Over the 4 days, riders take on a prologue and 3 stages. In the process they will tackle 100km of snow covered trails and nearly 2’500m 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 turnaround point, riders cross the Saane river on a narrow bridge. Riders race back along the Saane. With the Finish Village in sight, riders take a sharp right turn and 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, a high-speed downhill past the Finish Village awaits. Once at the bottom, riders head out southbound on the cross-country tracks. After this 1.5km flat section, the final climb (500m long, 50m high) is in sight. Another short but fast downhill and all that is left is the final push towards the finish line. The pro riders will take to the course from 15:45 onwards.
On the first day, 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. The route takes the riders from the “Promenade” in Gstaad through little roads and trails along the Saane river to Rougemont. In Rougemont the riders will reach the turning point and from there they will take an alternate route back to Saanen. The historical village of Saanen 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. The final stretch to the finish village at the Gondola station Gstaad-Eggli, requires riders to make use of their final energy reserves.
The second stage of the Snow Bike Festival is a scenic ride to the Lauenensee. From the start in the Promenade of Gstaad the route leads the riders into the idyllic Turbach valley. 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 final stage of the Snow Bike Festival guarantees a thrilling finish to the event. From the starting line, riders head out via Feutersoey across the hilly terrain towards Gsteig. Just beyond Feutersoey, the riders will be met by the first short climb of the day, 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. However, before riders can collect their finishers medal, one final obstacle awaits. The riders must conquer the “Eggli” climb (4.7km and 475m of climbing) one final time. Once atop the Eggli, unlike the spectators the riders won’t have time to enjoy the spectacular views, as a final thrilling downhill to the finish line awaits. The UCI race will likely be decided on this final climb and downhill. A heartbeat finale is guaranteed!