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  1. Even if you don't have a gym in your back yard there's a lot you can do at home to keep fit during lockdown. Or you can "train via osmosis" from the couch. Check out the first episode of Fitter, Faster, Stronger for some tips from the World Champ. The bike community has given me many great memories… Now it's time for me to give something back and show you my training secrets in a new "How to“ series. Join me in EP1 in the gym to become FITTER, FASTER and STRONGER Nino Schurter on Facebook See more info and a Q&A with Nino on scott-sports.com. Video: RainedUpon Media
  2. With some time to kill following the Absa Cape Epic cancellation, Nino Schurter and the Scott Sports team got into the gym to share some of his training secrets. Click here to view the article
  3. Kate Courtney World champion Courtney was imperious and the American moved clear on lap two to forge a gap to the field that never looked in danger of being closed. Reigning World Cup champion Jolanda Neff suffered a horror start, however dug in to fight back to seal second place that keeps her 175 points behind Courtney. Jolanda Neff German Elisabeth Brandau secured her best ever World Cup finish in third with Neff's Swiss compatriot Sina Frei fourth and home rider Pauline Ferrand Prevot fifth. Sina Frei Courtney, 23, said: "Today I rode my own race, focused on my objectives and I am really happy it worked out. Race within myself and not let the pressure get to me. Of course having a rider like Jolanda - who is so strong on the climbs but also a maniac on the descents - behind you puts some pressure on but I just tried to stay focused and keep on the gas." Neff, 26, added: "The first lap cost me a lot. I am super happy I kept it together until the finish. We still have three races to go and I am starting to feel better the longer the season goes on." Sina Frei, Jolanda Neff, Kate Courtney, Elisabeth Brandau, Pauline Ferrand Prevot stand on the podium at UCI XCO World Cup in Les Gets, France. In the men's race, it was nip and tuck with six-time World Cup champion Schurter unable to drop Brazilian Henrique Avancini and Italian Gerhard Kerschbaumer until the last lap when he pulled clear late on. Nino Schurter His 32nd World Cup victory leaves him one short of Frenchman Julien Absalon's record of 33 with Avancini matching his best ever result with third place again. Henrique Avancini Gerhard Kerschbaumer Mathieu van der Poel could only finish 16th, leaving Schurter over 200 points clear of both the Dutchman and Avancini whose consistency is rewarded in second. Ondrej Cink Schurter, 33, said: "Tough course, really physical. Gerhard was super strong. Second to last lap I was surprised that I dropped him. It is hard to get gaps and, for a long time, it was an open race. This victory today was a big step towards overall victory. I really like the Val di Sole track and it would be awesome to catch up Julien's record." Stephane Tempier, Gerhard Kerschbaumer, Nino Schurter, Henrique Avancini, Ondrej Cink stand on the podium at UCI XCC World Cup in Les Gets. UCI MTB World Cup women's XCO at Les Gets result: 1. Kate Courtney USA 1:26.29 2. Jolanda Neff SUI +0.33 3. Elisabeth Brandau GER +1.05 4. Sina Frei SUI +1.15 5. Pauline Ferrand Prevot FRA +1.32UCI MTB World Cup women's XCO overall standings: 1. Kate Courtney USA 1265 points 2. Jolanda Neff SUI 1090 3. Anne Terpstra NED 815 4. Elisabeth Brandau GER 625 5. Sina Frei SUI 615 UCI MTB World Cup men's XCO at Les Gets result: 1. Nino Schurter SUI 1:22.10 2. Gerhard Kerschbaumer ITA +0.04 3. Henrique Avancini BRA +0.38 4. Stephane Tempier FRA +0.48 5. Ondrej Cink CZE +0.48 UCI MTB World Cup men's XCO overall standings: 1. Nino Schurter SUI 1160 points 2. Henrique Avancini BRA 915 3. Mathieu van der Poel NED 899 4. Mathias Flueckiger SUI 883 5. Jordan Sarrou FRA 698
  4. The all-new Scott Sparkle? Nino Schuter's Scott Spark RC 900: FrameScott Spark RC 900 Carbon HMX SL CustomForkRockShox SID Ultimate CarbonShockRockShox Nude RLC3Remote LockoutScott TwinLocWheelsDT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline Carbon 30MM, 29″TyresMaxxis Aspen 2.25 EXO TRHandlebar and StemSyncros Fraser IC SL Nino EditionGripSyncros SiliconHeadsetSyncros ProTop CapSyncros XR Computer MountSeatpostRockShox Reverb AXS 100mmSaddleSyncros Tofino 1.0BrakesSRAM Level Ultimate BlackboxBrake rotorsSRAM CLX 160mmShifterSRAM XX1 Eagle AXSRear derailleurSRAM XX1 Eagle AXSCassetteSRAM XX1 EagleCrank armsSRAM XX1 Eagle with Quarq power meterChainringSRAM 36TChain GuideSyncrosBottom BracketSRAM DubPedalsRitchey WCS V6Bottle cagesTopeak Shuttle carbon with Race Rocket pumpComputerGarmin Edge 130 Although Schurter has been testing the SRAM Eagle AXS electronic and wireless drivetrain for some time, 2019 is the first year he will be racing the retail ready product. The XX1 Eagle AXS wireless shifter and electronic-shifting rear derailleur are the brain behind the new shifting system. Schurter has been known to ride a 38T chainring for shorter races but in the multi-stage Cape Epic he has elected to race with a 36T chainring, with a Quarq power meter. The RockShox Reverb is also a new AXS product with electronic wireless actuation of the dropper seatpost. Schurter's mechanic has placed a blip button in the left silicone grip allowing him to easily activate the dropper post. A wire runs from the blip into the frame along the brake hose where it connects to a blip box for transmitting the signal to the dropper seatpost. The fork and shock are supplied by the team sponsor, RockShox. The RockShox shock uses the NUDE technology that Scott favours for their three-position TwinLoc lockout system. The fork appears to be something new from RockShox, the label reads SID Ultimate. The team was shy on information about this model but we are speculating that it might be an upgraded model on the SID World Cup. The RockShox SID Ultimate. Schurter rides his signature Syncros Fraser handlebar and stem combination. The handlebar and stem are integrate into a single carbon component. The cockpit is finished off with a Syncros top cap for mounting Nino's Garmin bike computer and Sahmurai Sword bar end caps concealing tyre plugs. SRAM's Level Ultimate brakes are charged with the task of slowing down the world's fastest cross country rider.
  5. Nino Schurter & Matthias Stirnemann. Photo credit: Greg Beadle / Cape Epic. Schurter’s title defence was over before it really began in 2018. Matthias Stirnemann, with whom Schurter won the 2017 Absa Cape Epic, started the race with an illness. Though the pair placed fourth in the Prologue, one second faster than eventual race winners Jaroslav Kulhavý and Howard Grotts, their race effectively ended halfway through the opening marathon stage. By the end of the stage they had lost over twenty minutes to their general classification rivals. Schurter’s dream of becoming the first rider to defend the Absa Cape Epic crown since Christoph Sauser in 2012/2013 was over. In 2019 he will line up alongside Swiss Epic champion Frischknecht for his sixth Absa Cape Epic. Despite having won virtually every major title in the sport his motivation still burns as bright as ever. “I still love racing – I still love to challenge myself. This hunger of racing at my best is not any smaller than years ago” the seven-time XCO World Champion stated. Both he and Frischknecht are pragmatic about the lessons they can take from the 2018 race, where Frischknecht crashed out during Stage 3. “The lesson was an Absa Cape Epic can go all directions. To the good and to the bad” Schurter reflected. “Illness, mechanicals and injuries is not something you can 100% avoid, you can only try to limit the risk” the Swiss star reasoned. “It was a bummer [crashing out in 2018] for sure, but anything can happen in the Absa Cape Epic” Frischknecht added echoing Schurter’s sentiments. The 24-year-old was quick to shift the focus to this year’s race however: “For me a dream comes through competing the Cape Epic with my mentor Nino Schurter. I’ll give it 110% and see this as a great opportunity to show what I’m capable of.” Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht. Aiding Schurter and Frischknecht in their bid to regain the title for SCOTT-SRAM are Forster and Heyns. The pair will be riding in the colours of DSV / SCOTT-SRAM as the South African Marathon Champion’s sponsors are also represented on the team’s jerseys. It will be Forster’s Absa Cape Epic debut, but in Heyns he has one of South Africa’s most talented riders to help bridge the divide in experience. “I heard a lot of great stories about the Absa Cape Epic”, Forster said. “I’m super excited to finally be at the start line of the world’s most prestigious stage race” Gert Heyns. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje. Fortunately, the European XCO Champion’s anticipation for the race does not purely involve expecting to suffer. “I‘m looking forward to race through some beautiful scenery and shred some nice trails too,” he smiled. With Heyns at his side, he should be able to find moments aplenty to enjoy, especially on the technical descents, amidst the suffering. “I am a much more complete racer than back in 2014, when we won the final stage, Absa African Jersey and finished 6th overall. I have matured a lot as a rider in the last few years and can't wait to race in this prestigious event again.” Heyns revealed. “Although the competition has definitely increased every year, I am confident that if everything falls into place, a podium finish would not be impossible. But our main objective for the race is to support Nino [schurter] and Andri [Frischknecht] in their quest for victory. It has been a few years since I last started the Absa Cape Epic, in 2016. It was a year that was full of drama; I had to withdraw from the race due to illness while leading the Absa African Jersey classification. Over the last few years I did not have a team mate with whom I could compete in the event, so I opted to rather focus on my studies during that period,” the DSV rider said. Lars Forster. The partnership of SCOTT-SRAM and DSV is a special collaboration arranged for the 2019 Absa Cape Epic by two top former professional cyclists: Thomas Frischknecht – mountain biking legend and owner of SCOTT-SRAM, and Malcolm Lange of Lange Sports – multiple South African road and track champion and owner of DSV Pro Cycling. Heyns stated: “A few months ago we got a call from Thomas Frischknecht, the manager of the SCOTT-SRAM team, asking whether I would be interested in teaming up with Lars Forster for the Absa Cape Epic. There is no doubt that Lars is an amazing athlete and definitely a rider that's up for the task of competing at the sharp end of the race. I feel very privileged to have been granted this opportunity and I am very thankful for how accommodating everyone was in making this collaboration between SCOTT-SRAM and DSV work.”
  6. Albstadt in the dry is a fast proposition but in the wet, a different animal emerges. In the elite women’s race, most of the pre-race talk surrounded the winner of Friday evening’s Short Course race, Annika Langvad. The Dane had won the opening round in Stellenbosch but right from the gun the series leader was in trouble and seemed to be slipping backwards. olanda Neff performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool. Neff’s now trademark start line smile belied the ruthlessness of what was to come. By the end of lap two the technically supreme Swiss had amassed a two minute lead and never looked back. There were big rides too from the reigning overall title holder, Yana Belomoina. Returning to the track where she had taken her first ever victory after missing the first round due to a hip injury, she rode to a superb second place. Holland’s Anne Tauber matched her result in Stellenbosch with another third. Yana Belomoina, Jolanda Neff, Anna Tauber perform at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool. Neff said: “The conditions were my best friend today! I was happy when I knew it was rainy and muddy. We had a real mountain bike race and I loved every second.” Big rains were promised for the elite men’s race, but they never arrived. Conditions remained tricky however and it felt like the emerging stars of Mathieu Van Der Poel and Samuel Gaze were set to make their presence felt. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool. For Gaze’s Specialized S-Racing however, it was to be a weekend to forget. Despite arriving in Germany riding a wave of confidence of the back of some great early season success, first Jaroslav Kulhavy retired with drivetrain issues only for Gaze to retire shortly after. Last season, Schurter had done the impossible and achieved the perfect season but 2018 hadn’t been as kind. He’d lost out to Gaze in South Africa and a freak mechanical had put him out of the Short Track race at the start of the weekend. Those results relegated him to the third row of the starting grid but the defending champion went from the gun and was at the front before the end of the start loop. He forged on until only Tempier was left and, clearly not fancying leaving it to a last lap sprint, he pushed hard on to the penultimate to finish on his own. Tempier finished second, with Van Der Poel third, and crossed the line to the Swiss holding his Scott bike proudly aloft - the boss was back. Photo credit: Nino Schurter performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany Schurter said: “It is a good feeling to get my first win of the season, it is a nice relief. The third row definitely makes it more difficult from the start. I want to go for another win next weekend now.” Stephane Tempier, Nino Schurter, Mathieu Van Der Poel stand on the podium at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool. The series continues next weekend in Nové Mesto in the Czech Republic.
  7. The summer heat of his second home town of Stellenbosch, will be the perfect preparation for what he believes is the best way to start the season. Schurter had an astounding 2017, a year in which he utterly dominated mountain biking, beginning with his victory in the Absa Cape Epic, and then following that up by winning all six legs of the UCI Cross Country World Cup and his fifth Cross Country World Championship. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Absa Cape Epic. Sportzpics. With the UCI MTB World Cup returning to Stellenbosch the week before the Absa Cape Epic, Schurter could set himself up for a repeat of last year if things go his way. “The new schedule is truly the perfect schedule for me,” said Schurter, who will take part in his fifth Absa Cape Epic. “Having the first World Cup round in my second home is something I am looking forward to and I hope this schedule will remain in the years to come.” Schurter said the Absa Cape Epic victory, his first win of the year, was a large part of his success in 2017, setting him up from the start with a victory that came as a “wonderful surprise”. Schurter and his Scott-Sram team, had a long-term plan to win the race in 2018. Little did they know that it would kick off a dream season that will become the stuff of legend. “To be honest, the 2017 season also beat my expectations,” said Schurter. “Winning the Absa Cape Epic already was a wonderful surprise. The World Cup was, for sure, my main goal, but winning all of them was nothing I had planned on. Only when I saw I could be the first one to win five world cup races in a row, did I get some extra motivation to go for it. And after winning five, I said to myself, ‘Why not win them all?’ The icing on the cake was the World Championship at the end.” “Winning the Absa Cape Epic was the base for the perfect season. It really spiced up the soup. Going to the first World Cup already having a major victory helped tremendously for the rest of the season. It is the biggest stage race to win and something I’m super proud of.” Schurter will team up with fellow Swiss Matthias Stirnemann once again, while Michael van der Heijden and Andri Frischknecht of the Scott-Sram Young Guns, will be their support team. There are very few teams who can call on a back-up consisting of riders who won two stages on their debut Absa Cape Epic. Schurter said he had been very impressed with their performance, and believes they are definitely a pair to watch for the future. He and Stirnemann have formed a close bond, with Schurter smiling as he recalls how “funny” his teammate can be both on and off the bike. They had humour, luck (not one mechanical in 2017) and strength in depth, the perfect combination. And now, after the snow of Switzerland, Schurter has the warmth of Stellenbosch. Could a perfect 2018 be on the cards?
  8. In the women’s race, Belomoina channelled the confidence gleaned from her maiden victory in Albstadt and promptly set about disappearing into the distance. Yana Belomoina performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra. Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool. The 24-year-old seemed to get faster with every lap and soon had a sizeable lead, leaving reigning world champion Annika Langvad in pursuit alongside seasoned veteran Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå. Langvad, who had triumphed at the recent XC Marathon World Champs, was in good form and happy with her performance at a track which traditionally hasn’t been kind to her. It was Belomoina, however, who would secure another win by 97 seconds on a day when she truly decimated the field and showed the kind of electrifying form she’s in. She said, “It was a great race. It’s unbelievable. After my win in Albstadt, I had so much motivation for this. Now I have a lot of points and I hope I can retain my leader’s jersey.” In the men’s race there was drama at the start when Germany’s Manuel Fumic broke his chain right from the gun. But before it had even sounded, the field was rocked by the news that Jaroslav Kulhavy would not be starting due to illness. Nino Schurter performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra. Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool. All eyes were on the big Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel as he seemed set about his continued harassing of series leader, Schurter. The reigning champion, though, was in no mood to wait around for any attacks and went full gas from the start and, in reality, was in a league of one all day. A group of three formed behind him consisting of Mathias Flückiger, Sam Gaze and Jordan Sarrou. It was the canny Flückiger who would storm to a sprint for the line to clinch second place from Sarrou with the series moving on to Lenzerheide in Switzerland on July 9. Schurter said, “I am super happy. Love this course. Super tactical. I feel at home here. Amazing to win here. "Here at altitude, you need to pace the race and have a gap. I was able to go hard where I wanted." Flückiger added, “The track was pretty awesome. I am pretty happy. I waited until the finish to sprint because, with the altitude, you pay for it otherwise.” Women’s result:1. Yana Belomoina Ukraine 1hr26ms04s 2. Annika Langvad Denmark +1m37s 3. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa Norway +1m56s 4. Linda Indergand Switzerland +2m25s 5. Emily Batty Canada +2m44s Men’s result: 1. Nino Schurter Switzerland 1hr23m28s 2. Mathias Flückiger Switzerland +0.18s 3. Jordan Sarrou France +0.19s 4. Samuel Gaze New Zealand +0.33s 5. Florian Vogel Switzerland +0.51s
  9. Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Scott? I’m the guy who pulls all the strings together during development. I take inputs from the racing team, designers, and engineers to produce the best option and determine the product direction.We have a Design team and an Engineering team, and we all work closely together for the best results. Before we start any project, we have very clear goals: for example with the new Spark we said that we want to win the Olympic games so we need 1) the lightest bike and 2) the fastest bike. Those were our two main goals. To go light you are limited in terms of shapes, you can’t go too crazy with your tube shapes: it gets too heavy. A simple round carbon tube is still the lightest. As soon as you start with more designing: with square tubes, with ribs etc. the frame gets heavier. Of course, it is also important that the bike looks good. Maybe the engineers want to go with a different suspension setup: but then the bike does not look fast, not sexy. Then you have to make a call not to go that way. I’m the guy leading this all and making the call on which direction to go. The Scott Spark RC that Nino Schurter rode to victory at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. You can view the full bike check here. Photo credit: Anthony Churchyard What was behind the decision to change the shock position and mounting on the new Spark suspension? The old suspension was very efficient. But we wanted to have good suspension performance, not only efficiency. If you are carrying the extra weight of the suspension by riding a dual suspension rather than a hardtail, then you should have the benefit of the suspension working perfectly.Then we started investigating different options and decided on the new design, which is maybe not as efficient as the old one, but overall is much better. The new Spark was launched last year. How long have you been working on that bike? The first discussion started after the Olympic Games in London 2012. There we had the first brainstorm: discussing the way to go. Then the project really launched two years ago.In that time, we tested a lot of competitors bikes to get a feel for what is on the market and what we can do better. Is there ever anything that you ride where you think: This is really clever, why didn’t we think of this? Of course, there are competitors bikes that are very good. They are very smart and have very good solutions, and we have to start thinking how we could do it better. Scott is not a company where we take the best bike in the market and copy it, we want to make it our own way with our own design. In the build up to the 2016 Rio Olympic games, was it a conscious decision to go 29er? Nino was always pushing for 27.5 but I was convinced 29er was better, and I tried to convince him. That was the reason I developed both wheel sizes: so that we were 100% on the safe side for Olympic Games. It was a huge project for us to have both frames, both wheel sizes ready in the same time.When you start a project like that you have to think about what will be the best in three years time. When you start development you can’t think what is good now, you have to think about what will be good in the future. What is good on the market now is already history. You have to start thinking about what is going to be better. That is why I pushed to have both wheel sizes. Having proven the value of the 29er wheel size on the 100mm XC bike, will you keep both wheel sizes going forward? You will see next year already that we will drop the 27.5 on the 100mm bike. Even Nino is happy now on the 29er, and we have too many models: we have a huge range, it is too much for the dealers, it is almost impossible for them to have everything in the shops. It was just confusing, so we have decided only to move forward with 29ers for this segment. The Scott Spark RC that Jenny Rissveds rode to victory in the mixed category at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. You can view the full bike check here. Photo credit: Anthony Churchyard The advent of one-by drive trains: has this affected frame design? Of course. This frame has been designed only for 1x systems. It allows us to make this axle wider, and therefore stiffer. The Spark frame has almost the same stiffness value as the Scale hardtail frame. This was always a goal, a request from Nino: he wants a full suspension but it needs to be as stiff as a Scale, and there 1x helps a lot. For the engineers, it is easier. Working with SRAM on components, at what stage in the design process do you sit down with RockShox to discuss the suspension for the bike? You have to start ongoing communication right from the beginning, it’s a full partnership, a fully open discussion. On the suspension design, is it collaborative? We want to design it the way we want because we firmly believe our suspension design is the most advanced in the world. With our 3 position Nude shock you have reduced air volume in the middle position so you have less sag for pedaling, and with less sag you also have a steeper head angle which is better for steering and flat sections. So this bike started at the London Olympics, are you already looking at Tokyo 2020? What’s next? Will we see more 1x specific bikes? Of course, you have to. With the introduction of Eagle, a 2x system makes no sense for most people, especially with dropper posts becoming more common on cross-country bikes. If you have two 2 shift levers and a remote lockout and dropper post lever the cockpit becomes too cluttered. Where are you looking to improve the current bike? There are some points where we know we can improve. The next step I can see is maybe electronic. Shifting? Something else. Electronic suspension? We’ll see. Of course, there is still a lot of potential. Frame material and carbon technology: do you still see scope for much improvement there? Of course, the room gets smaller and smaller there, but there is room for improvement. We work with some carbon manufacturers of pre-pack carbon fibres discussing how we can make them lighter and stiffer. At the moment, carbon is here to stay and I don’t see any other material at the moment that can challenge it. Graphene is not so easy to handle on a bike frame, but we are always working and checking these options.Also with the suspension partners, there is always communication backwards and forwards to try and make improvements. If the designer had to design the perfect bike, how different would it look? Very different. Much more integrated, all the tubes would not be so smooth, they would be more “designed”.When they come up with a design you have to discuss with them, listen to their ideas, you can’t just say “this will never work” or it will be too heavy. We us 3D simulation software to simulate the carbon layups on the tubes. There you can calculate the weight quite accurately. The first prototype is a 3D printed frame which can be done fast and cheaply, then we can get an idea of the product in real life, you can’t always see details on the screen. But at the same time the engineer starts the 3D model. We usually go through six or seven prototypes before we get to the final design. How long do you field test prototypes for? The first prototype frame we rode in the winter of 2015, about 6 months before we launched the bike. If the engineering team had to design the frame how would it look? Completely different. Every tube would be straight and round. The suspension would be more or less the same. But that’s the best part of the job, the challenge designing the best possible product: balancing design and engineering.
  10. The announcement of the Spark RC saw a number of changes over the previous Spark. Most noticeably was the geometry which saw the bike becoming longer and the angles slacker. The aim was to make the bike more capable on technical trails without losing any advantage in power efficiency and forward momentum. Looking at the team's and Nino's results, it is tempting to say that they might have got it right. Scott-SRAM MTB Racing ride with RockShox suspension components. They use the new SID World Cup and the metric Deluxe shock. Both components are using a new damper that the team are calling Black Box. Despite our best attempts, the team were unwilling to reveal what the Black Box technology might be. The Scott TwinLoc remote system adjusts the fork and shock compression settings. With SRAM as a naming sponsor, it's unsurprising that the team ride their state of the art XX1 Eagle drivetrain. Nino has opted to go with a 36 tooth chainring with a Quarq power meter. Like most pro teams, Scott-SRAM MTB Racing have opted to go with the attention-grabbing gold cassette and chain. Nino turns the cranks using a pair of Ritchey WCS v6 pedals. The Scott-SRAM MTB Racing ride on DT Swiss wheels with Nino opting for the carbon XMC 1200 Spline set for Cape Epic. The rims have undergone a special Olympic gold medal decal treatment. Maxxis's lightweight Aspen tyres are Nino's choice for the eight days of Epic. The cockpit features components from Scott's Syncros range which includes carbon handle bar and seatpost, stem, saddle, and grips. There are mounts for a GoPro and his Garmin bike computer and a Topeak saddle bag that contains a tube. For more information on the accessories, spares, and nutrition used by the Scott-SRAM MTB Racing team check out this article. Specifications FrameScott Spark RC 900 Carbon HMX SL CustomRear ShockRock Shox Deluxe Black Box / 100mmForkRock Shox SID World Cup Carbon / Charger Black Box Damper / Boost / 100mmRemote LockoutSCOTT TwinLocHeadsetSyncros FL1.5 / TIB bearingStemSyncros XR1.5 / -17° or -25°HandlebarSyncros FL1.0 SL Carbon T-Bar / +/-5mm / 9° / 680mmGripsSyncros FoamSaddleSyncros XR1.0 SL CarbonSeatpostSyncros FL1.0 SL Carbon / 10mm seatbackBrakesSRAM Level UltimateShifterSRAM XX1 EagleRear DerailleurSRAM XX1 EagleCassetteSRAM XX1 Eagle Gold / 10-50TChainSRAM XX1 Eagle GoldCranksetSram XX1 Carbon Eagle 175mm Q-168mm 36TWheelsDT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline Carbon 29”TyresMaxxis Aspen 2.25 x 29Bottle CageTopeak shuttle cage carbonComputerGarmin Edge 20PedalsRitchey WCS v6
  11. You are back at the Cape Epic this year, after not riding it last year. Does a race like the Epic have a big impact on your XCO season in terms of fatigue afterwards, and how does it fit into your training for the year? It’s quite different racing, if you intend to do well at Epic you need to train differently than you would for cross country races. But it’s early in the year and you can also use it as preparation, as a hard week. But then you need to be careful that you don’t go too far over your limits. I have reached a lot of my goals, and that’s going to be one of my next goals: to try and win the Cape Epic. In the past, I was just here to see how it went, more for training than racing. This year and especially next year are going to be different. After coming close in 2014, are you looking to make the podium this year? For sure, if we can get on the podium it will be great but if we see that Matthias [stirnemann] or I are struggling then we do not want to destroy ourselves. I do not think we have a chance for the overall podium this year, we haven’t raced yet. All the others guys have been training specifically for Epic, they already have races in the legs. For us, it is to get experience for Matthias, and also the other two members of the team.I’m quite relaxed, I don’t feel there is any pressure right now. I am looking forward to it - it is an awesome event. What advantages do you and Matthias Stirnemann have in the quest for the podium? We have a similar riding style and we are quite similar physically. We have a good chance to get away in technical stuff, and maybe being able to deal with the very high intensity riding from cross country will be an advantage. Why are the Swiss so good at mountain biking? It’s a great place to ride a bike. There are a lot of mountains, a unique trail network of hiking trails through the Alps that you can also ride on. From nearly everywhere in Switzerland you can start from where you live and go on a ride. Now more and more of the ski regions are building trails for summer, the winters are getting shorter and shorter, and they need to do something in the summer. Nearly all the ski resorts now have built bike parks, and offer different kinds of bike activities.We also have a really great cup, the Swiss Cup. You don’t have to drive far to get to the races. From any place in Switzerland you can probably get to all the races in under three hours, and from seven years onwards you can take part in races. The same weekend you also have a pro race, that’s one of the main factors. You are well known for your gym routines which have been documented in The Hunt for Glory video series. Do you think you do more gym work than your competitors, and is it something that you feel gives you an edge on the course? You need to be complete physically and as a mountain biker you need to be athletic in every way. For me, it is a must to do something like that to be successful. Just going out and riding is not enough for a mountain biker. You need to challenge your body in new ways: such as the co-ordination exercises. In my eyes that makes the difference. You have been to South Africa several times in the last few years. What do you think of the trails here? Here the trails are quite different to what we’re used to. In Switzerland, we have a trail network that goes through the whole country, the trails are quite old, and natural.Here the land is mostly privately owned, you have nice trails, but each are privately owned and managed, and access is controlled. Then the surface is quite different. We are used to more natural rocky trails, and here the dirt is quite different: more loose and sandy over hardpack. It’s good to ride here and get that practice. The opening leg of the 2018 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup will be held in Stellenbosch a week before the 2018 Absa Cape Epic. You mentioned that you would like to try and win the Epic next year, will you be racing the World Cup as well, how does that fit into your Epic preparation? Next year I will be here early, I would like to do some racing before the Epic as preparation, so the World Cup fits into that well. Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann during the Prologue of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville, South Africa on the 19th March 2017 Photo by Ewald Sadie/CapeEpic/SPORTZPICS You rode a 650b bike at the top end of the field for several years, while most of your competitors were on 29ers. With the release of the new Scott Spark RC 29er just before the Olympics last year you made the switch to 29er. Was there anything specific about the design of that bike that allowed you to make the swap comfortably and did you have to adjust your riding style at all? The bike has changed quite a bit. The first 29er frames manufacturers just blew up the size to fit the bigger wheels. The new Spark is really built around 29er wheels and the geometry has changed quite a bit. Also with Boost wheels are now much stiffer. So you won’t switch back to 27.5? No. But the 27.5 still makes sense for shorter people. I think for a lot of women- the 29er bike is just too big, and weight is an issue. Jenny won the Olympics on 27.5. I still believe if you are not tall it makes sense to go on 27.5 inch wheels. Jenny Rissveds is riding with a dropper seatpost at Epic, with an eye on maybe keeping it on for XCO. Is that something you would consider? Yes, we are starting to test more and more dropper posts. But for me there is not the right product out there yet. They need to be a bit lighter, and for cross country you don’t need that long travel to drop. For me, it doesn’t make sense to put one on. But dropper posts are going to be the future in cross country racing for sure. Do you make changes to your race bike for Epic compared to your cross-country bike? Yes, I ride softer suspension because you don’t ride as aggressively and a bit harder pressure in the tyres just to avoid flats. Will you be aiming to defend your Olympic title in Tokyo in 2020? Yes, that is the goal. I already have the most Olympic medals for a mountain bike racer but I don’t have two gold medals like Julien Absalon, so I’d like to defend my title in Tokyo, and see if I can get another medal. Four medals in four games would be amazing. What can be done to clean the sport of drug use? Just more controls, more testing out of competition. In some countries the system is not working. We in Switzerland already have quite a good system, we get tested by three different kinds of organisations, and there is a lot of out of competition testing. But I hear that other countries do not have a lot of out of competition tests. There is no organisation that is ensuring that testing is consistent in every country.I would say that cycling in general, and definitely mountain biking is cleaner than some years ago. Cross country mountain biking requires technical skills, and is a one day event, not an ultra endurance stage race like Tour de France, so it’s not just all about your engine. And there is not as much money at stake as on the road, so that also why I have the feeling that in mountain biking there are just a few cheating, I don’t think there are a lot- I don’t think I would be able to win races if it was that bad. I think on road it may be worse.
  12. Nino Schurter & Matthias Stirnemann of SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing celebrate winning the 2017 Absa Cape Epic during the final stage (Stage 7) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Riding as a team for the first time, Schurter and Stirnemann (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing), along with their Young Guns back-up team, dominated the final few stages of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. It meant they went into the final stage with a seven-minute gap over second-placed Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized). With Sauser’s experience, however, Schurter and Stirnemann were taking nothing for granted on the 85km Grand Finale. “Today the plan was just to get to the finish. We didn't want to do anything stupid,” said an elated Stirnemann. “It was quite emotional for me, because anything can happen and at the beginning we thought Christoph and Jaroslav would attack, so we just wanted to stay with them.” Andri Frischknecht & Michiel Van der Heijden of Scott-SRAM Young Guns celebrate winning the final stage (stage 7) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS As has been the case all week, though, Sauser was unable to find his legs when he needed them most. “Right after the start we noticed that Christoph wasn’t doing so well,” said Stirnemann. “Then I started to relax and we just rode sensibly so that there were no punctures or crashes.” The Absa Cape Epic debutant could hardly believe that he had won the event on his first attempt. “This is amazing, just amazing. I really can’t believe it. I think I need to go home now and take it all in before I realise what this means. It’s been great to ride in the yellow zebra jersey, and of course even better to finish in yellow and win the Absa Cape Epic.” Schurter, a bronze, silver and gold Olympic medal winner in cross-country racing, the win comes in his fourth Absa Cape Epic – his previous best had been a fifth place in 2014. The current Olympic and world champion, cool and calm as ever at the end, admitted that the strategy was always to come and win the Absa Cape Epic, but only in 2018. “The plan was to come here in 2018 and win, but we are a year early!” said Schurter. “This is very special. To win the Olympics and then come to South Africa and win the Cape Epic, that is great. After Rio it was always my intention to come and win the Absa Cape Epic, but this has taken us by surprise. I thought next year would be our year. We are ahead of schedule.” The 2017 Absa Cape Epic winner had nothing but praise for his back-up team of Van der Heijden and Frischknecht. “I have to say, our backup team was outstanding. To come here in their first Cape Epic and do so well is incredible. They are very special guys and they make the team very special. They made no mistakes all week.” Past champions like five-time winner Sauser have emphasised that the Absa Cape Epic can only be won with a back-up team. That point was proven yet again by the SCOTT riders. “You need a back up team to win this event, and as we have seen this week you need a good back up team,” said Schurter.” Grand Finale stage winner Michiel van der Heijden could barely contain his excitement, grinning from ear-to-ear after a phenomenal debut at the race. “I can’t describe it; this is just unreal,” he said. “We have two stage wins - which I never expected at the start of the Absa Cape Epic - and the team has won overall. It’s incredible. We have definitely surprised ourselves. The strategy for this year was for us to check the race out and then to come back in 2018 and help the SCOTT team win. Now I don’t know what we’ll do net year!” Prologue winners and race leaders for the first four stages of this year’s Absa Cape Epic, Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini, also finished with big smiles in Paarl despite dropping down to fifth in the overall standings. “We had more ups than downs this week,” said Fumic. “Overall, it was a good week for us. We came here to win the Prologue and we achieved that. Now we are going to drink lots of red wine and gin & tonics.” The lead bunch during the final stage (stage 7) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Christoph Sauser, who came out of retirement to try and win his sixth Absa Cape Epic, believes that the performances of cross-country specialists have changed the nature of the race, which is normally considered a marathon riders event. “I think this year has shown that the dynamic of the Absa Cape Epic has changed,” said Sauser. “Previously you could go slow and warm up in the first hour, but this year it has been full on for the first hour of the race. You needed to ride really hard as there was no let up. Going forward, I think we will see faster starts now and riders will have to change the way they train, focussing more on speed and cutting back on long hours as the race starts to get closer.” Asked whether he’d consider racing again in 2018, Sauser said, “I think now it’s time for retirement.” 2017 Stage 7 Men Stage Results1. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 2:57.14,9 2. Trek-Selle San Marco 2 13-1 Damiano Ferraro (Italy) 13-2 Fabian Rabensteiner (Italy) 2:57.32,3 +17,4 3. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 2:57.53,2 +38,3 Overall Results 1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 26:35.06,5 2. Investec-Songo-Specialized 3-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 3-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 26:43.13,9 +8.07,4 3. Centurion Vaude 2 16-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 16-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 26:54.41,3 +19.34,8 4. Kansai Plascon 7-1 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 7-2 Max Knox (South Africa) 26:55.39,2 +20.32,7 5. Cannondale Factory Racing XC 8-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 8-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 27:04.57,0 +29.50,5 6. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 27:08.58,9 +33.52,4 7. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 27:36.12,8 +1:01.06,3 8. Topeak Ergon Racing 4-1 Alban Lakata (Austria) 4-2 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 27:48.45,2 +1:13.38,7 9. Centurion Vaude 6-1 Jochen Kaess (Germany) 6-2 Markus Kaufmann (Germany) 27:52.40,6 +1:17.34,1 10. Claes - Carabin 24-1 Frans Claes (Belgium) 24-2 Sebastien Carabin (Belgium) 28:03.21,3 +1:28.14,8
  13. Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann of Scott SRAM MTB Racing during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 25th March 2017, Schurter and teammate Matthias Stirnemann were comfortable throughout Stage 6, winning ahead of South African Max Knox and his Colombian parter Hector Paez (Kansai Plascon). In doing so, they opened up a lead of almost seven minutes in the overall standings ahead of second-placed Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized). Third on the day went to Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude 2.) Stage 6 was labelled as the 2017 Absa Cape Epic’s Queen Stage - the toughest of the seven stages. Riders set off from Oak Valley Wine Estate and were soon confronted with the major obstacle of the day, a daunting and lengthy climb up the Groenlandberg. It was on the way down from that crest that Sauser and Kulhavy’s race was effectively ended, with the former suffering yet another puncture. It allowed SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing to open their lengthy time gap. Jaroslav Kulhavy and Christoph Sauser during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS “The plan was basically to stay with Investec-Songo-Specialized the whole day and make sure they didn’t get away from us,” said Schurter. “We thought they might make a move today, but after Christoph got a flat on the first major downhill, we were able to attack and get away. From there we just went like it was another cross-country race. For us, it’s been eight days of cross-country riding.” Once again at this Absa Cape Epic, the pace was set at the start by South Africans Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes (PYGA Euro Steel). This time they were joined by Rohrbach and Geismayr. By water point 2 the Centurion Vaude 2 pair had opened a 45 second gap between themselves and the chasing pack (PYGA Euro Steel again succumbing to their 2017 puncture curse), but soon after they were caught by SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing, the SCOTT-SRAM Young Guns and Kansai Plascon. The Young Guns then punctured with Kansai Plascon and Centurion Vaude 2 dropping off the pace after water point 3. For the final 5km it was all Schurter and Stirnemann. “I don’t know what happened today, but it was much less suffering than yesterday! It was a good day on the bike,” said Stirnemann. “Every day I feel like I am getting stronger on the bike. I recovered well last night; that showed this morning when I could get my rhythm a lot quicker.” Max Knox of Kansai Plascon during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS By the time the riders returned to Oak Valley a big crowd had gathered, and there were huge cheers for the first South African rider home. Reigning South African marathon champion Knox and Paez (a multiple Colombian national champion) have been in good shape all week, but have been rumbled by bad luck at inopportune moments. Today things finally went their way. Knox, tired but elated with second on the day, had nothing but praise for his teammate. “The stage was tough, very tough. The pace was hard,” he said. “I have to say, my partner Hector is incredibly strong. I was riding at the limit, pushing myself to go harder the whole time. I was dropping off and barely hanging in, but Hector just kept encouraging me, kept pulling me along. He’s incredible. I have been feeling off my game all week, but he has been immense.” Thanks to a steady week-long performance and an excellent Stage 6, Knox and Paez now also find themselves in third overall at the Absa Cape Epic. “This has been such a cross-country race so far; for us marathon racers there have only been two days that suited us, one of which was today. It’s amazing to be on the podium at last and great to come second today. Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr of Centurian Vaude 2 lead the bunch during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS “This is such an amazing field this year; it’s been great to ride alongside world champions and Olympic champions. We’d obviously like to stay in the top three overall, but it’s not over yet. Tomorrow is another shorter day and the cross-country guys will be firing again.” After another untimely puncture, five-time champion Sauser all but conceded defeat. “I have been in these situations before, so I can deal with it, but I am obviously very disappointed,” he said. “I just had no energy on the bike, especially after the puncture. It will be hard, but I will have to get up to race again in the morning. I think now, unless there is a major catastrophe, our chances of winning are over. Nino and Matthias are too strong. I don’t think we can catch them.” 2017 Stage 6 MenStage Results 1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 4:26.38,9 2. Kansai Plascon 7-1 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 7-2 Max Knox (South Africa) 4:26.55,0 +16,1 3. Centurion Vaude 2 16-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 16-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 4:27.52,2 +1.13,3 Overall Results 1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 23:37.13,3 2. Investec-Songo-Specialized 3-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 3-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 23:44.02,4 +6.49,1 3. Kansai Plascon 7-1 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 7-2 Max Knox (South Africa) 23:52.00,0 +14.46,7 4. Centurion Vaude 2 16-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 16-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 23:56.35,2 +19.21,9 5. Cannondale Factory Racing XC 8-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 8-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 24:02.19,7 +25.06,4 6. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 24:11.44,0 +34.30,7 7. Bulls 1-1 Karl Platt (Germany) 1-2 Urs Huber (Switzerland) 24:26.38,7 +49.25,4 8. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 24:36.57,0 +59.43,7 9. Topeak Ergon Racing 4-1 Alban Lakata (Austria) 4-2 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 24:43.04,3 +1:05.51,0 10. Centurion Vaude 6-1 Jochen Kaess (Germany) 6-2 Markus Kaufmann (Germany) 24:49.16,8 +1:12.03,5
  14. Team SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing let us into their camp to reveal what they take along on a typical stage of the Absa Cape Epic. A view from the top: Some of the seldom seen elements for success at SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing. Yes, that's a saddle bag - a Topeak Weatherproof Dynawedge to be precise. Fitted to none other than XCO World and Olympic Champ Nino Schurter's bike. Not something you'd see the team sporting in an XCO, but at the Cape Epic the riders need to be self sufficient. This pouch houses a spare Maxxis tube, with a little extra room to slot in other small items. This Topeak Mini 20 Pro multitool is not shy of tools. With 23 functions it sports allen wrenches up to 10mm, T10 & T25 Torx wrenches, screw drivers, spoke wrenches, emergency tire levers, and a chain tool. Oh, and a bottle opener for good measure. The team also carry a pump along, mounted in the conventional spot adjacent to the bottle cage. This Peak DX II from Topeak is designed for mountain biking and adds just 155 grams. Scott's MTB RC shoes are their top end model, designed for stiffness through the carbon outsole and light weight. It fastens using two Boa IP1 systems. Protecting their heads is the Scott Centric Plus helmet. It's an aerodynamic, yet well vented helmet which features MIPS for added safety. Keeping it simple: CO2 canister with the Topeak adapter attached, wrapped in some duct tape which secures a few cable ties - both of which can prove very useful for mechanical quick fixes. A spare chain link is neatly tucked beneath the Garmin mount straps. Swiss Sports Nutrition brand SPONSER provide sustenance during the racing. We spotted their High Energy bar, a tube of Liquid Energy gel, Energy Gums and Electrolyte Tablets. Oakley EVZero Shades GoPro Hero Session Garmin Edge 1000 A Sahmurai Sword tyre plug tool tucked neatly into the crank axel. Another Sahmurai Sword to be packed in a pocket. Now take a look at Nino Schurter's race bike in our Bikes of the Epic feature.
  15. Thanks to another strong ride they also moved into the overall race lead after the 84km Stage 5. Nino Schurter & Matthias Stirnemann of SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing celebrate winning stage 5 & taking the Overall lead during stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 24th March 2017. Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Second on the day was previous stage winners Michiel van der Heidjen and Andri Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM Young Guns), giving the SCOTT teams excellent back-to-back victories. Third went to Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized) who had dropped back to nearly two minutes behind Schurter and Stirnemann at one stage but fought magnificently to finish 17 seconds behind on the day. After five superb days, it was eventually a mediocre day for Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing XC). They’ve held the yellow zebra jersey since Sunday’s Prologue, but a puncture and bad day on the bike for Avancini handed the overall race lead to Schurter and Stirneman. Thanks to a ninth-place finish on the day, Fumic and Avancini have dropped to third overall, while Sauser and Kulhavy lurk in second, just 50 seconds off the front in the overall race. On another fast day, SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing had to dig deep for the stage win, as Sauser (who was feeling off his game for the first half of the stage) and Kulhavy chased to the bitter end. Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy during stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS. Stirnemann was left breathless after crossing the line, and had to take a few minutes to compose himself before talking to the media. “The stage win feels great, especially after the start I had,” said Stirnemann. “In the beginning I was really struggling for rhythm. It took me quite a while to get started, but I think after the first climb of the day I started feeling much better. It was fast again from the start. In fact the whole stage was hard going…” After trailing off, he asked the waiting media to excuse him while he took time to recover. Schurter on the other hand looked ready for another 84km. “It’s absolutely amazing to win the stage,” he said. “On the first big climb of the day I noticed that Christoph was struggling; that’s when we decided to go for it. Both the SCOTT teams were feeling good, so it’s great that we have now taken two stages for the team.” After moving into yellow, Schurter expects an exciting finish to the Absa Cape Epic. “The yellow zebra jersey is obviously a bonus,” he said. “The cross-country guys have really been doing well at the Absa Cape Epic this year; we’re happy to continue the form. Tomorrow though; anything can happen. We look forward to it.” Earlier in the day the pace was set by the all-South African pair of Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys (PYGA Euro Steel). Eager for a stage win, Beukes and Buys bolted out of the start chute, setting a high tempo from the word go. Unfortunately they suffered a torn sidewall, which put paid to their stage chances. Sauser meanwhile was struggling with an ailment and made an effort to conserve his energy. Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes of team PYGA Euro Steel experience a technical issue during stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS “I felt horrible at the start,” said the five-time champion. “I felt slightly ill, had no rhythm and just couldn't get going. It was suffering, but it was suffering of the highest level. The pace was fast and we just had to hang in. I always know what I don’t have at the start of the ride, I will have at the end of the ride, so I knew I just had to hang in there and everything would come right.” With the SCOTT teams slowing slightly after their efforts today and yesterday, Sauser and Kulhavy were able to chase them down, though Sauser admits their tactics were slightly off. “Strategy-wise, I think we were actually too conservative on the day. We went a bit slowly on the trails, and in retrospect I should have lead Jaro through the trails because I know them so well. That was my only complaint for the day. Finishing strongly though definitely puts me in a better headspace for tonight and tomorrow.” Stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic is billed as the Queen Stage - the toughest of all seven. It features the daunting Groenlandberg climb and a number of vicious up and downs - perhaps a day for the marathon experts to exert some control. “I wouldn’t say we are favourites,” says Sauser. “Everyone has shown that they are so strong this week; and the terrain is super rough out there. The potential for mechanicals is very high. Tomorrow is another wait and see day.” New race leaders Nino Schurter & Matthias Stirnemann of SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing celebrate on the podium during stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS. Meanwhile, the 2017 pacesetter is sanguine about the remainder of the race. “We had some bad luck today, and my friend also struggled,” said Manuel Fumic. “But we made it, we kept fighting. That happens at these events. We are not disappointed at all; our performance has been amazing and we are very happy. Now, you know, there is no yellow jersey on us, so maybe tomorrow we have some fun. Now we party on the trails.” 2017 Stage 5 MenStage Results 1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 3:50.38,5 2. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 3:50.39,4 +0,9 3. Investec-Songo-Specialized 3-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 3-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 3:50.55,9 +17,4 Overall Results 1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 19:10.34,4 2. Investec-Songo-Specialized 3-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 3-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 19:11.24,7 +50,3 3. Cannondale Factory Racing XC 8-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 8-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 19:19.46,4 +9.12,0 4. Kansai Plascon 7-1 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 7-2 Max Knox (South Africa) 19:25.05,0 +14.30,6 5. Centurion Vaude 2 16-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 16-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 19:28.43,0 +18.08,6 6. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 19:31.05,8 +20.31,4 7. Bulls 1-1 Karl Platt (Germany) 1-2 Urs Huber (Switzerland) 19:37.15,6 +26.41,2 8. Centurion Vaude 6-1 Jochen Kaess (Germany) 6-2 Markus Kaufmann (Germany) 19:55.15,7 +44.41,3 9. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 19:55.33,0 +44.58,6 10. Topeak Ergon Racing 4-1 Alban Lakata (Austria) 4-2 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 19:57.31,7 +46.57,3
  16. The 2017 Absa Cape Epic sports the strongest men’s field in the 14-year history of the race, with up to six teams aiming for the top step of the podium. Several years of a special focus on the women’s race has born fruit in recent editions: the standard of the field has steadily got stronger and the racing more exciting. The trend continues in 2017 and the racing is bound to be thrilling as a number of the world’s top marathon racers pit themselves against one another. Click here to view the article
  17. Elite Men Nino Schurter competes in the men's cross-country race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 2016. Pascal GUYOT / AFP There will be many races within the race, but two stand out: The battle of the Olympic gold medallists: Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, who took home the gold in 2016, will be in the field racing against his great competitor Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic, the 2012 Olympic winner. Schurter will be riding with compatriot Matthias Stirnemann (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) and Kulhavy with Swiss Christoph Sauser (Investec Songo Specialized). The battle of the five-time winners. Sauser has been tempted back from a one-year retirement in a bid to beat his great rival Karl Platt to being the first to six wins. German Platt won the inaugural event in 2004 and bagged his fifth win in 2016. Platt will be riding with Swiss Urs Huber (Bulls) again this year. Karl Platt [front] and teammate Urs Huber in action during the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik - Sportzpics But there are several others who will also be eyeing the top step of the podium. Foremost among these may be Austrian strongman Alban Lakata, who has finished second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the Absa Cape Epic and is desperate to add a first to his long list of accomplishments. He will be riding with Czech Kristian Hynek (Topeak Ergon), himself a former winner of the race, and hoping that the bad luck that has dogged him over the years is finally a thing of the past. Another team that will be hoping their luck has turned will be Centurion Vaude’s German combination of Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess. They appeared headed for a win in 2014 before falling foul of a broken frame and have since been held back by injuries. And dark horse Italians Damiano Farraro and Samuele Porro (Trek Selle San Marco) raced to third place in their first Absa Cape Epic in 2016 and showed they have the pedigree to challenge for an overall win. Christoph Sauser racing the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS. A South African with an eye on the podium will be national marathon champion Max Knox, riding with Columbian Hector Páez (Plascon). The South African has been in great form in 2016 and his partner is a tough and experienced rider who has notched up a series of successes over the years: expect them to be at the sharp end of the racing. Significantly, all of these teams have strong back-up teams – a prerequisite to winning the Absa Cape Epic these days. Other teams in the race who will be targeting stages include Manuel Fumic of Germany and Brazilian Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing), the South African pairing of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga), Germans Martin Gluth and Julian Schelb (Silverback OMX Pro), and Switzerland’s Konny Looser, who is riding with up-and-coming South African Matt Beers (RED-E Ryder), another who has been in great form recently. Hansgrohe Women The winning team from the past three years has broken up with Annika Langvad returning to her studies after winning the Cross Country World Championships and the Absa Cape Epic in one year. Her partner Ariane Luthï of Switzerland – but South African-based – will be riding with German Adel Morath (Spur). Team Spur Specialized's Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad on their way to overall victory in the ladies category during the final stage of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Luthï is vastly experienced at stage racing and her success at the Absa Cape Epic – she has also won the Mixed Category on two occasions – will give them some edge in a race that demands both cool heads and strong legs. Morath debuted at the race in 2016 and finished third overall with Briton Sally Bigham. They will face a huge challenge from German mountain biking legend Sabine Spitz, who will be riding with South Africa’s Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health). The 45-year-old German raced her first Cape Epic in 2016, finishing second overall with Ukranian Yana Belomoina, after a career that has seen her win gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games and world championships in both cross country and marathon disciplines. Spitz’s appetite for the Absa Cape Epic was clearly sparked in 2016 and she and Belomoina dominated the second half of the race, winning the last three stages. Team Sport for Good's Sabine Spitz and Yana Belomoina on their way to stage victory during the final stage of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS De Groot, by contrast, was in imperious form early on in 2016 and she and partner Jennie Stenerhag of Sweden won the Prologue and Stage 1 before the latter fell victim to a heart condition. There are other teams that will be aiming for the podium and perhaps getting on to the top step. Switzerland’s Esther Suss is a former Women’s and Mixed Category winner and will be riding with the aforementioned Stenerhag (Meerendal CBC). Both are wily competitors and while they might not have the firepower of the top two teams they will know that a lot can happen over eight days. Another European pairing, Hielke Elferink of the Netherlands and Switzerland’s Cornelia Hug (Meerendal CBC1), will also be poised to strike if the top teams falter. The former has two Top 10 finishes at the Absa Cape Epic and Hug is an accomplished marathon specialist with some excellent results over the years. Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian of Team Dormakaba will be the African team to watch in the challenge for the women's title Besides De Groot, South African interest will focus on local youngster and rising star Candice Neethling and her Namibian partner Vera Adrian (Dormakaba). They come off wins at both the Berg&Bush and Sani2c and will fancy their chances of a stage win or two. Another young and promising South African, Mariske Strauss, will be teamed up with Briton Annie Last as Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro and will also be hoping to make an impression. Dimension Data Masters There are always several races within the race at the Absa Cape Epic and few are as fiercely contested as the Dimension Data Masters category.In 2016 it was won by Dutchman Bart Brentjens and Brazilian partner Abraao Azevedo (CST Brentjens MTB) for the third year in succession, but they had to see off strong challenges in all those years. Besides winning the category for riders of over 40-years-old, Brentjens and Azevedo finished 14th overall in 2014, 16th in 2015 and 21st last year – remarkable performances given the quality competition from the phalanx of professional riders. Brentjens is a former overall winner, taking the title in 2005 with Belgian Roel Paulissen. Bart Brentjens and Abraao Azevedo on their way to victory and the overall lead in the Masters category during stage 3 of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Saronsberg Wine Estate in Tulbagh to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Wellington, South Africa on the 16th March 2016. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS. In 2017 Brentjens and Azevedo will face a formidable challenge from two Absa Cape Epic debutants who have a long and distinguished mountain biking pedigree. Germans Thorsten Keller and Max Friedrich (Craft Rocky Mountain) have been at or near the top of the sport in their country for many years. 44-year-old Keller has raced internationally since 1991, was a member of the German national mountain biking team and has notched up several podium positions since he started racing in the master's category. Friedrich has a similarly stellar career and in 2012 finished just 0,97 seconds behind winner Brentjens in the four-day Alpen Tour Trophy stage race. He has been the German marathon champion in the master's category six times and is familiar with South African conditions, having twice won the mixed category at the Cape Pioneer Trek. Then there’s one of the biggest names in world cycling, former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans. Evans started his career as a mountain biker and won the World Cup series in 1998 and 1999 before turning to the road. He will be racing with another Tour de France veteran George Hincapie (BMC Absa Racing Team). Although they have played down their chances of success, they are both pedigreed racers and will go for it if they get a sniff. The South African challenge is likely to be headed by the crack combination of Hannes Hanekom and Ben-Melt Swanepoel (@40). Both have finished the Absa Cape Epic eight times, with the former’s best finish being 17th overall and the latter eighth. Their experience and familiarity with the conditions should make them strong challengers. But keep an eye out for the Lamond brothers Nic and Simon (Podium Sports), who have both been consistently near the front of the race over the years and are skilled riders. Grand Masters Two teams are likely to dice it out for this category, which was introduced in 2013 and has proved to be far more competitive than anticipated.Swiss legend Barti Bucher and his Austrian partner Heinz Zoerweg (Meerendal CBC 3) have won the category twice since then and finished second overall in 2016 after a poor Stage 1 set them back. Bucher knows the top step of the Absa Cape Epic podium well – he has also won the Master's category twice and the Mixed once. Besides his two successes with Bucher, Zoerweg won the Grand Masters category with Andrew McLean in 2014. Robert Sim [L] and Udo Boelts [R] during stage 4 of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Wellington, South Africa on the 17th March 2016. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS They will, however, have to overcome 2016 winner Robert Sim and his fellow South African Doug Brown (Robert Daniel) if they are to win the category this year. Sim took the Grand Masters trophy in 2016 with German Udo Boelts and has a long history of podium finishes in the Master's category. Brown has twice won the Master's category and is looking to add a first to his second and third-place finishes in the Grand Masters. They will give the Europeans a stern test and Sim will be aiming to repeat his amazing performance in 2016 when he and Boelts finished 25th overall. This race should provide a thrilling sub-plot to the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Virgin Active Mixed The presence of Olympic gold medallist Jenny Rissveds is bound to fire up the racing in the Virgin Active Mixed category.The Swede has suggested that her objective will simply be to finish the race, but she has such outstanding ability that she is likely to be at or near the front anyway. The 22-year old will be riding with team manager Thomas Frischknecht of Switzerland (SCOTT SRAM Next Level), a former cross country and marathon world champion and still very strong on a bike at 47. Catherine Williamson and Johan Labuschagne at the 2016 Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race. Photo: Full Stop Communications Two other teams are likely to be among the front-runners. The English/South African combination of Catherine Williamson and Johan Labuschagne (RBI Tech-Mitas) have both performed excellently in the Absa Cape Epic before: Williamson has won the Women’s category and Labuschagne notched up a second in the Mixed category. She has a reputation as a tough and determined competitor and their combination should be formidable. Then there is 2016 Olympic triathlete Mari Rabie, who will be racing with Corrie Muller (Fairtree Capital). Rabie has never done an Absa Cape Epic before but is a strong cyclist and her partner has finished the event seven times – including the very first race in 2004– and notched up a second in the Master's category. Rabie thrilled South Africans by competing strongly at the Olympics, where she finished 11th overall.
  18. On August 21st 2016, N1NO Schurter completed his collection of Olympic medals by winning Gold in Rio de Janeiro, after winning the Bronze medal in Beijing in 2008, and Silver in London in 2012. Click here to view the article
  19. The 5x UCI MTB World Champion had not only set himself the biggest goal, but also put himself under tremendous pressure to succeed in his Hunt for Glory. Now that the hunt has ended in glory, N1NO breaks down the last few years for us.​
  20. In August he won gold at the Olympic Games after earlier winning the 2016 mountain bike cross country World Championship. Now Switzerland’s Nino Schurter has set his sights on another major achievement: winning the Absa Cape Epic. Click here to view the article
  21. Schurter is the biggest name in world mountain biking right now, with three world championships, three World Cup titles (for accumulated points over a season) and gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals. In 2017 he will take on the world’s premier mountain bike stage race, the Absa Cape Epic. He will be riding with fellow Swiss mountain biker Matthias Stirnemann for Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team. They will be supported by the Swiss/Dutch pairing of Andri Frischknecht and Michiel van der Heijden. Asked if he was going for a win, Schurter said: “Next year is going to be a test for us. Matthias, Andri and Michiel have never ridden the Cape Epic before. If we succeed, it’s maybe a goal for the coming years.” Stirnemann is only 24 and widely regarded as a future mountain biking star. He and Schurter recently finished third overall in the six-day Swiss Epic after a poor prologue and opening stage. They went on to win two stages against some of the riders they will confront in the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Schurter described winning the Cape Epic as “a goal for the future”, but his pedigree and competitive nature is such that he is bound to give it a shot in 2017. He has taken part in three previous Absa Cape Epics, twice with fellow Swiss rider Florian Vogel. In 2010 and 2013 Schurter and Vogel approached those races as extended training sessions for the upcoming cross country season and finished 13th overall on both years. In 2014 Schurter rode with South African Philip Buys and they finished fifth overall, including two stage wins. “After an amazing year of winning the World Champion title and the Olympic Games I am looking forward to a new challenge and I want to compete in the Cape Epic after a two-year break,” Schurter said. “I’m really looking forward to coming back to the Western Cape … I really love the place and especially the trails and how all the mountain bike places are developing there.” He described the Absa Cape Epic as an “amazing event with awesome organisation”. And the key to success on an event that confronts you with significant distances day after day? “To get through without any serious issues, like mechanicals, and staying healthy.”
  22. What does it take to be a champion? World class talent, world class drive, and world class equipment. To develop the best products, it is important to get feedback from the best athletes in the world in order to create podium worthy bikes. Check out how Nino shaped the development of the new Scale and Spark in the latest release of “Hunt for Glory.” Click here to view the article
  23. If you race mountain bikes, you’ve learned to love to suffer. No one knows this better than World champion Nino Schurter. Learn more about Nino’s strategically tough interval training to get an idea of how the pro’s get their endurance training dialed. Time for a sufferfest. Click here to view the article
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