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A cross-country race in the shadow of the Eiger

12:00 16th August 2011 by David Arthur @davearthur
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On Sunday 14 August 2011 the Eiger Bike Challenge, Switzerland’s most spectacular amateur cross-country mountain biking event took place in the beautiful Jungfrau Region.Almost a thousand bikers, men, women and children, participated.

After the mud bath of the 2010 race, bikers were relieved to have perfect biking weather for this year’s Eiger Bike Challenge – dry, sunny and pleasantly mild.

It was a very close race between the men in the long distance, 88km event. The challenging route, taking in two big mountain passes, the Grosse Scheidegg and Kleine Scheidegg was hard fought until the very end. Within 5km of the finish it was still anybody’s title.

Lukas Buchli, who launched his professional bike career after winning the race in 2006 has had a great deal of success, even becoming Swiss Champion in 2008. Despite close calls at Grindelwald in subsequent years – he’s made it onto the podium every year since 2006, he hasn’t been able to retain his title. Rival Urs Huber, has been the dominant force at this event in recent years, winning in 2008 and 2010, and placing second in 2009.

It was no surprise to see them both ahead of the field Sunday. Giving them a run for their money at the start was Alexandre Moos. Despite being a strong contender and keeping pace with the two favourites, he lost ground in the middle section. However, he put in an incredible performance on the final downhill, catching up with the two leaders once again.

Huber proved to be the strongest and fastest man, taking the title in 4 hours 25 minutes and beating his own course record, set in 2010. Alexandre Moos put in an explosive sprint to overtake Buchli on the final stretch, putting him only 17 seconds behind Huber.

Buchli’s disappointment was bitter, despite his podium place, as he finished just 5 seconds behind Moos, in third place. Buchli’s performance overall in this season’s iXS series has been consistent enough to earn him the iXS-classic leaders jersey, which he was awarded on Sunday.

In the women’s race, favourite Erika Dicht was in a class of her own. Despite crashing and splitting open her lip, she won the race in 5 hours 25 minutes, a full 50 minutes before Andrea Kuster who took second place. Alexandra Clement put up a hard fight and came in just a minute behind Kuster for third.

British contenders rise to the challenge

Some Brits were also flying the flag for us in Switzerland. The best-placed being Mike Davies from Middlesex, who finished the long distance in a very credible 4 hours 45 minutes. Neal Crampton also put in a notable performances finishing in 5:12.

As the name Eiger Bike Challenge implies, this event has a breathtaking alpine backdrop. The colossal mountains with their spectacular peaks and glaciers are a constant sight. And the most imposing of all, the world famous Eiger towers mightily above the racers.

www.eigerbike.ch

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