Ariane Lüthi and Alice Pirard finished second behind Team Meerendal CBC (Esther Süss and Jennie Stenerhag) on Stage 1 of the Perskindol Swiss Epic, after suffering a double puncture early on in the event’s Queen Stage over 92km with 3000m of climbing.
“We had a good start and dropped just behind Jennie and Esther into the first downhill and managed to overtake them,” Lüthi explains. “The downhill was super rocky – quite fun actually – until I smashed into a rock that was stronger than my tyres,” she says.
Lüthi suffered a double flat only 15km into the stage and the team had to set about plugging both tyres. “There were four holes to fix, but Alice did an amazing job.” So well did Pirard fix the holes, that there was no need to even change the wheels at the tech zone – something which would’ve been possible only 40km later.
By this time Team Meerendal had disappeared out of sight. Lüthi and Pirard got back into racing and fought back, riding with the team who would eventually place third, before dropping them on the final downhill to finish second and limit their loss to Meerendal to 13 minutes 14seconds on General Classification.
“Esther and Jennie were definitely stronger on the climbs and they deserved the win today. We would’ve like to have challenged them a bit more, especially on the downhills,” Luthi said.
“We’re still in good spirits and motivated; and we’re definitely going to keep fighting for that jersey,” she said. “I’m going to mount some Specialized Ground Control tyres and go bombproof so as not to flat again,” Lüthi concluded.
Today’s Stage 2 will see riders tackle a loop from Leukerbad over 70km with some 2500m of vertical gain.