Over the 4 days, riders take on a prologue and 3 stages. In the process they will tackle 130km of snow covered trails and nearly 4’000m of climbing.
The prologue is a time trial course along some of the beautiful winter hiking trails just outside of Gstaad. Spectators breathing down the riders necks cheering them on as they get their snow biking adventure underway.
From the start ramp in the Land Rover Finish Village, riders first head north in the direction of Saanen. Shortly after the a flat and fast start riders cross the Saane river on a narrow bridge. Riders continue to race along the Saane past Saanen. With the the Town of Saanen in sight, riders take a sharp right turn across the river and immediate left onto a single track past the Saanen air field. After 5km’s of slightly downhill racing are faced with the first climb of the event. Short, but steep, this 500m long and 60m high climb will open up the first gaps in the field. Once atop, riders cross the so-called “Röstigraben”, which is the border between the French and the German speaking parts of Switzerland. “Rösti” as you may know, is a famous Swiss German dish that is not traditionally served in the French part, hence the word “Röstigraben = Rösti ditch”. A nation divided by a traditional dish. Once at the bottom, riders have an undulating ride towards the turnaround point at 6.5km going into the second major climb of the flat route with 740m long and 70m high climb. After the climb comes a tricky straight downhill section, with some “soft snow” patches that can through riders over the bars. After this the routes open up for easy passing on the gradual uphill next to the Saane river back to the Land Rover finish village. The pro riders will take to the course from 15:45 onwards.
Stage 1 of the 2019 Snow Bike festival is set to be one of the most exciting stages of racing history seen in the world of stage races! Riders will make their way to the the start of stage 1 by train and cable car to the top of the Rinderberg. The Restaurant Rinderberg Spitz will be the start of a 6km fast and exciting downhill dropping a total of 1050meter to the town of Zweisimmen, skilled riders are set to make an early advantage and could play a big role in the outcome of the 2019 edition. After reaching Zweisimmen riders will be faced with a 6km climb to Saanenmöser, from here it will be undulating but fun riding towards Gstaad, but don’t get excited yet as we will be going past the top of the town and up the valley of Turbach, at 25 kilometers riders will make a sharp turn coming back down towards Gstaad onto the cross county slopes of Turbach. Winding roads will take the riders down to the top of the Wispile slope where riders will encounter a steep slope down to the Saane river, with a flat 2km ride on the snow to the Land Rover finish village in Gstaad.
On the second day, the route takes the riders from the “Promenade” in Gstaad through little roads and trails along the Saane river to the historical village of Saanen that is known for its famous ancient chalets as well as the little airport, which is one of the coldest areas in the valley. Once the riders pass through Saanen the route will guide them to Chalberhöni which will then lead them up the Eggli. The 7km climb up the Eggli, forces riders to conquer 590m of climbing. It tends to become harder and steeper towards the end, but the effort is well rewarded as the view of the Alps around Gstaad are breathtaking. The final downhill is on a sledge trail and requires concentration and skill. At the bottom riders head out via Feutersoey across the hilly terrain towards Gsteig. Just beyond Feutersoey, the riders will be met by another short steep climb, followed by an equally short downhill. Once in Gsteig, the riders will ride straight through a cow stable, a real highlight for both riders and spectators. From there, riders make their way back towards Gstaad.The final stretch to the finish village past the Gondola station Gstaad-Eggli, requires riders to make use of their final energy reserves.
The final stage of the Snow Bike Festival is a scenic ride to the Lauenensee. From the start in the Promenade of Gstaad riders start with a big climb that leads the riders back into the idyllic Turbach valley like on Stage 1. Once back out of the Turbach valley, there is a bit of time to recover on a flat section where the riders can enjoy the spectacular view into the valley around Lauenen. Awaiting the riders at the entrance of Lauenen is a very steep and challenging uphill, known as the “wall of Lauenen”. The picturesque village of Lauenen and the surrounding area are a great spectator point where good photographs are guaranteed. Shortly after the village, the climb to the Lauenensee (Lake Lauenen) begins. It is 3.5km long and 150m high climb to this stunning little nature paradise. From there, hiking trails, narrow roads and single tracks bring the riders back to the finish line in Gstaad. The stage guarantees a thrilling finish to the event with an expected sprint finish at the end.