Switzerland’s Tortour is a series of endurance cycling events that cover the country’s landscape across the calendar. The most recent event in the series was the 2019 Gravel Winter stage race held February 8-10.
The gravel stage race is actually probably the “easiest” among the series events.
The three events held last August were the Tortour 1,000km non-stop ultra-endurance race (eat your heart out DKXL and TransIowa!), the Challenge 550km race and the Sprint 390km race. The Tortour ride might as well been called Ride Around Switzerland, as it traveled a loop across pretty much around the entire country.
The Tortour Winter Gravel route was, fortunately, a bit more low-key than its ultra-endurance cousin.
The origin of the Tortour gravel event hints at the close relationship between cyclocross and gravel. The stage race started as a “Cyclocross” race, and the organizers have since rebranded it as a gravel race, even though elements of both disciplines are present at the event.
The 2019 Gravel Winter event was based in the municipality of Glattfelden, which is located along the Rhine River north of Zürich—and 2020 Cyclocross Worlds host Dübendorf. Day 1 of the Gravel Winter event was a 20km, 300m of climbing prologue to “Get you in the mood for what is yet to come.” Day 2 was a 73km day with 1,500m of climbing, and Day 3 was 84km long with about 600m less climbing.
Categories for the race included Women’s and Men’s Open, Masters, Two-person team and a mixed-gender two-person team. Perhaps of interest for U.S. cycling fans, former American pro rider and doper Tyler Hamilton raced in the two-man category along with former Swiss road pro Martin Elminger.
Final results were determined by the best time across the three stages.
Swiss rider Jutta Stienen won the Women’s race by over 12 minutes after winning all three stages. Stienen is 46 years old and still races professionally on the road in Europe. Veronika Heule of Germany finished second and Maria Ossowska of Poland third.
The Men’s race brought out some Swiss cyclocrossers who race on the EKZ Tour and international circuits. The elder statesmen of the group Simon Zahner took the win with his big ride in Stage 2. Swiss Cyclocross National Champion Timon Rüegg finished second and Lukas Winterberg third.
Hamilton and his partner overcame a flat tire and bad time in the prologue to win the two-man overall title by six minutes.
Full results for all categories are available online.
If the Tortour Gravel stage race is of interest, the next one takes place in the Summer of 2020.
Results for the solo Women and Men races and a photo gallery provided by the race organizers are below.
Photo Gallery: 2019 Tortour Winter Gravel