7 April 2014
After taking taking on the gruelling, eight-stage Absa Cape Epic, cross country world champion Nino Schurter is working on making a swift turnaround as he prepares for the opening round of the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, which takes place in Pietermaritzburg from 11 to 13 April.
During the exhausting adventure through some harsh Western Cape terrain, Schurter and his partner, South African cross country champion Phil Buys, managed to recover a lot of the ground that they lost early in the race to finish in a respectable fifth place overall.
“I am super-stoked about the Cape Epic,” the Scott-Odlo MTB Racing star hero said in a recent statement.
“Even though we lost a lot of time during the first two stages and also fell out of contention for the overall win, we dominated the second half of the race, winning two stages and coming second twice, including the final stage. It was a great experience.”
Now, having completed his third Epic, Schurter has less than two weeks between the demanding multi-day marathon and the World Cup opener at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg. He has admitted he is a little unsure what to expect as it is the first time he has been in such a position.
Short preparation time
“The preparation time will be short and I have no experience as to how I will recover after a stage race in such a short time,” Schurter said.
“My biggest competitors should come into Pietermaritzburg fresher than me and besides from Lukas Fluckiger and Jose Hermida I’m pretty much the only top rider that tried to do well in Cape Epic as well as Pietermaritzburg, so I guess time will tell.
“I am taking it one event at the time. We wanted to do well at the Cape Epic, but the World Cup is just as important, so it is going to be difficult to find the right mix of preparation.
“Pietermaritzburg is a race that really suits me, so I hope I can do well again as I did the past three times that I have participated there,” he added cautiously.
Schurter has won every time he has competed in Pietermaritzburg, landing two World Cup wins and the winning the World Championships last year.
Schurter is a regular visitor to South Africa, usually training in the Western Cape in the European winter and has thus been in the country for some time, having prepared for and then ridding in the Cape Epic.
However, having just put in an energy-sapping eight-day effort in the Epic, the Swiss star has not had a lot of time to recover before he heads returns to his cross country roots.
“I was in Stellenbosch for three weeks in February and stayed in South Africa in between Cape Epic and Pietermaritzburg,” he explained. “I took two rest days and since Wednesday I’m back training more intensely. to cross country race conditions.”
No major surprises
Having become a regular venue on the World Cup calendar, Pietermaritzburg no longer serves up major surprises for riders and although the conditions are very different to what most of the riders are used to, they have become accustomed to the conditions in Pietermaritzburg.
Despite having been in the country for an extended period of time, though, Schurter does not feel that he has an edge over the other riders who will jet in right before the start of the World Cup on 13 April.
“I would not say that this is an advantage regarding getting used to the conditions. I know what I can expect of the race track in Pietermaritzburg, no matter where I come from beforehand,” he said.