Sweet Dreams are made of this.
The newly refreshed SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing Team gathered recently in Tucson, Arizona for their first training camp. They've also set out plans for the 2019 Cape Epic.
Tucson, Arizona. With the addition of World Champion Kate Courtney and European Champion Lars Forster, SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing heads into another promising XC World Cup season. Team director Thomas Frischknecht alongside team captain Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht and the crew have met for the very first team camp in the US. Warm temperatures and great trails in Tucson, Arizona, offered the perfect conditions for 10 days of quality training. On top of that, SCOTT SRAM's first team gathering was a great way to get to know each other. Final verdict: "The team spirit is awesome, the riders are extremely motivated and the staff are on fire." Good reasons for Thomas Frischknecht and his team to look optimistic towards the 2019 season and set high goals.
Top: Lars Forster, Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht, Kate Courtney- that's how the 2019 team looks like.
Bottom: SCOTT-SRAM shredding the trails at Starr Pass, near Tucson, Arizona.
Photography: Margus Riga & Jordan Clark Haggard
With some long base miles on Mount Lemmon (2500 m.a.s.l) near Tucson, Arizona, fun mountain bike trails on Starr Pass and gym sessions with the team's physio, Julia Hegar, the crew put in some quality training to ramp up for the 2019 season.
First stop Cape Epic
The team's focus in 2019 will be on the World Cup, as well as the World Championship in Mount Saint Anne, Canada, in late August. For the male riders the season gets spiced up with the Cape Epic in South Africa (March 16th-24th), which will be the first highlight of the year. This time the Olympic and World Champion will team up with young gun, Andri Frischknecht. The Swiss team is feeling optimistic towards the world's most prestigious MTB stage race. "We all know by experience that this unpredictable race can go either way. ,N1NO Schurter says. "With Andri, we have a good chance to be in the mix for the top placings. He is a proven talent in stage racing. You never know, it could possibly go super well like it did in 2017, when we won the Epic, or it can go down the drain with mechanicals, illness or other misfortune like last year."
2018 Swiss Epic winner, Andri Frischknecht adds "Riding the Cape Epic with my mentor N1NO is like a dream coming true. I'll give it 100% and a bit more to take this opportunity and show what I'm capable of."
SCOTT-SRAM Cape Epic Team, Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht.
More contenders themselves than just a backup team are Lars Forster and Gert Heyns. SCOTT-SRAM's European Champion and the South African Marathon Champion will compete under the name DSV/SCOTT-SRAM, which is the fusion of both teams they are racing for. With Cape Epic rookie, Lars Forster - known for his big engine - and SCOTT rider, Gert Heyns - a well experienced Cape Epic rider and stage winner - the two champions are likely to be in the mix for this year's podium battles.
Eyes on the prize - European Champion, Lars Forster.
For Lars Forster, it's going to be his first Cape Epic. He is excited to finally be at the race: "I'm looking forward to this great event. With Gert, I'll have an experienced partner on my side. I'm optimistic that the Cape Epic is going to be a great build up to the World Cup season, which is my primary goal this year."
Kate Courtney: "Learn from the best!"
World Champion Kate Courtney will be racing the World Cup and World Championship but for a great part of the season she is on a different schedule than her male counter-parts. US Cup races, the Sea Otter Classic, as well as the PANAM Games in Mexico in April form the build up for her World Cup season.
Team director Thomas Frischknecht: "For Kate, it's important to continue developing as a top 10 World Cup racer just as she did last year and not be primarily seen as only the World Champion. Winning the World's title at only 22 years of age proved what she is capable of. But it's not realistic to believe she can repeat winning at the highest level all the time. However, being so young, she still has great room for improvement and is able to learn things quickly. It's going to be exciting to see how her season unfolds this year."
For her and her long time mechanic, Brad Copeland, it did not take long to embrace the team spirit of SCOTT-SRAM. Kate had this to say: "The team camp was the first of what I know will be many incredible experiences as a part of this world class team. It has already given me a huge chance to learn and develop as an athlete with a completely new level of support both in terms of team atmosphere and equipment. I’ve landed on a new motto this year: fun is fast and fast is fun. Looking forward to an amazing 2019 with SCOTT-SRAM!"
Kate Courtney, US & World Champion, training on the trails of Tucson, Arizona.