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20.04.2015
Appends to race/event: 17.03.2015 - 18.03.2015 // Sea Otter Classic, Monterey/USA

Prior Sea Otter Classic the whole team arrived on Monday in Santa Cruz a surfing town south of San Francisco. We stayed in two big houses close to the beach, trained easy, digged trails, drank incredible coffee at Verve, bbq every evening, no swimming in ocean because a mountain boy does not like cold water and most importantly and the best: I got to know new team mates or caught up with the "old" once. Great group of people!

On Thursday we drove straight to the course, did one lap, back to the new hotel in Monterey and getting into race mode the next day. I haven't been racing for 4 weeks since I crossed the finish line on the last day of the Cape-Epic, so I was wondering how my body will cope this weekend of short racing?¿


Friday Short Track, 20min plus 3 laps, 14km
8th place, a few seconds off winner Nino Shurter

It was a super fast course (33km/h average speed) with a few hair pin corners. It was so cool to see our new Specialized youngsters racing in the top mix. Good motivation for the old dogs Todd and myself. Todd unfortunately did not get around Nino in the final sprint. I finished a few seconds behind them. Totally we were 5 Specialized riders in top 10!


Saturday Cross Country, 2 laps, 57km
35th place with broken chain, 8.33min off winner Nino Schurter

I was and to some point I am still bummed about my broken chain on the last climb of the first lap. I went to the front and wanted to break down the group in size but all I accomplished was braking off my chain. I did not have a tool or link with me. Thanks to Todd who helped me out with the tool but at the end I walked to the tech zone and got a new chain there. That saved me to get my hands dirty.

Our Specialized kids "killed it" again. Howard second plus Sam and Simon top ten. U23 and Juniors.... Simon (junior) would not even been allowed to race in our category!

Now I stay two days in Morgan Hill at the Specialized office before heading to Prescott for Whiskey 50 one of my favorite races in the calendar!
 

 
 
21.03.2015
Appends to race/event: 15.03.2015 - 22.03.2015 // ABSA Cape-Epic, Western Cape/RSA

I am sorry but I let Specialized doing the talking during the ABSA Cape-Epic. I am just too tired updating it by myself or I simply need all the energy for the next day....

An other reason why I am racing for the big S is, we also have the best media crew! Check out the links, there are amazing daily videos, pictures and write ups.
 
Link 1: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/prologue---2015-absa-cape-epic...
Link 2: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/stage-1---2015-absa-cape-epic/
Link 3: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/stage-02---2015-absa-cape-epic...
Link 4: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/stage-03---2015-absa-cape-epic...
Link 5: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/stage-04---2015-absa-cape-epic...
Link 6: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/stage-05---2015-absa-cape-epic...
Link 7: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/stage-06---2015-absa-cape-epic...
Link 8: http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/stage-07---2015-absa-cape-epic...
 
 
13.03.2015
Appends to race/event: 11.03.2015 // songo.info Champions Race, Stellenbosch/RSA

30min plus 3laps
around 10th place, winner Jaroslav CoolKavy

Thanks so much to every single person for making this race such a huge success and inspiring our kids. It will go a long way! For us Cape-Epic racers it is now a very short wait until the Prologue in Cape Town. I am always very busy leading up to our songo race but now I can concentrate fully for the big one. Feeling more then ready to tackle my last one as a pro. Jaro is also in incredible shape and we have the very best "insurance" with Erik Kleinhand and Nico Bell as backup team! Lets go!

Please have a read at Chris Whitfield's write up:

“South Africans aren’t into watching other people ride,” the cycle race organiser said with great conviction. “We’re a nation of doers and would rather participate than spectate,” he added, again with utter assuredness.
Generally speaking, he might be right. But this week on Wednesday evening he was wrong, and in circumstances he would surely have never dreamed about.
That afternoon the Stellenbosch township of Kayamandi hosted the Aramex songo.info Champions Race. In the field were some of the biggest names in world sport: they included reigning Olympic gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic, Sweden’s Emil Lindgren, Austrian legend Alban Lakata, Swiss multiple Absa Cape Epic winner Christoph Sauser, and that race’s reigning champion, Kristian Hynek, also a Czech.
The women’s field contained household names (well, in cycling households) such as Denmark’s world marathon champion Annika Langvad, Switzerland’s Ariane Kleinhans (the two of them are the defending Absa Cape Epic women’s category winners) and her countrywomen Esther Suss.
The men’s and women’s races also included many of South Africa’s best riders. In fact it might have been the strongest cycling field to grace these shores outside the annual Absa Cape Epic stage race and the occasional world championship which we host.
And why were these world-class athletes prepared to race through the dusty streets of an unglamorous Stellenbosch township on a makeshift course? Most of them are here for the Cape Epic, which starts on Sunday, but it seems unlikely that many would have bothered if not for some compelling reason.
The answer to the question is a long one, but here’s the short version: in 2008 Sauser – who had made Stellenbosch his second home – met Songo Fipaza, a community leader in Khayamandi and a man with a passion to improve the lives of local children.
Sauser had been hoping to simultaneously support a charity and circumvent a rule that does not allow riders from different trade teams to ride together in the Absa Cape Epic: by riding in “neutral” charity clothing two riders from different trade teams can compete together.
When Sauser met Fipaza he appears to have seen something special in the initiative and in 2009 songo.info was born.
The organisation’s vision statement says it aims to raise “healthy, happy and educated children who have the opportunity to go out and pursue the careers and goals they have dreamed of”.
It adds: “In our vision we see a community where there is significantly reduced alcohol and drug abuse, crime and social deviance, and teenage pregnancy. Our children have access to education, skills transfer, and knowledge on personal development and environmental care. Children are protected and have a safe place to grow and develop.”
On the top of a bank overlooking the start and finish line on Wednesday were the songo.info headquarters, painted white with the organisation’s bright logo across its side. In front of the building was a BMX track, through which the array of international professionals rode during their race.
Songo.info has become a place where the children of Khayamandi reach for dreams which they might never have allowed themselves in earlier times.
And there were thousands of people lining the course. Many favoured a place at the top of the bank where they could watch the cyclists going around the field below, up the bank, through the cyclocross track, off into the township and then emerging to drop down another part of the bank towards the start/finish line.
As Kulhavy went past the cry went up: “Cooooool Harvey!”.
As Sauser went past little voices shouted: “Christoph! Christoph!”.
When local boy made good Sipho Madolo went past they roared.
Afterwards Sauser was mobbed. Scores of little children crowded around him, attempting to high five the Swiss athlete, to touch his bike or to just be in close proximity.
Eventually a security guy came around and shooed them away. But there was no extinguishing that brightness in their eyes as they skipped away excitedly.
Christoph Sauser and Songo Fipaza have ignited that brightness through their time, commitment and generosity. Those athletes who took part on Wednesday night were paying respect to exactly that.
 

 
 
08.03.2015
Appends to race/event: 02.03.2015 - 06.02.2015 // Tour de Boland, Western Cape/RSA

5 Stages, 467km, 12.48hrs of racing
21st Place Overall, with two top ten finishes

It is a beautiful road stage race on open big roads in the Boland Region of the Cape. Well, not all open roads, the last stage included a steep small gravel road which we climbed three times. That was at the very end of it and definitely my best day, which I ended up 6th just a few seconds off the winner.

For this race we put a fun but strong team together of mountain bikers preparing for the Cape-Epic. Nico Bell, Konny Looser, Erik Kleinhans, Oli the Pinner and Lucien Besancon plus our always pro pro team manager Kandice Buys and mechanico Morne.

Every day included some specials:

day one: big headwind, bunch sprint
day two: heat wave, dehydration, big pass
day three: time trial, rest day for me
day four: big open roads, no corners, hilly, super fast
day five: off road, climbers stage

It was the perfect preparation for the big one the ABSA Cape-Epic, but before it, we takle the Aramex-songo Champions Race in Kayamandi. Will be good to be on the mtb again!

http://www.songo.info/events/2015-aramex-songo.info-champions-race/?id=117
 

 
 
02.03.2015
Appends to race/event: 01.03.2015 // Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge, Western Cape/RSA

55km, 2.15h, 1250m of climbing
Fourth Place, 2min behind winner Erik Kleinhans

My last race the Attakwas Extreme felt already a long time ago. I knew due my feeling in training I am in good conditions but during a short race like today where it is game on from the first minute on there is no mercy to play around first.

My February in Switzerland and the short visit to Israel passed very quickly. Enjoyed riding in the snow but also on nice dry roads down in the valley, on the indoor track, a few intervals on the indoor trainer, indoor track at the uci head quarter or backcountry skiing! Good variety!

I arrived in beautiful Stellenbosch this Tuesday. Great to meet all my friends and trained more and less easy every day. I have two weeks of quite hard training behind me and I felt to recover, especially with all the racing leading up the ABSA Cape-Epic as well.

The race unfolded very quickly today. Erik Kleinhans attacked after 10min and stayed clear with Johann Rabie on his wheel. It was the plan that he hits it hard at the beginning, then Nico Bell and myself will just sit down and leave the chasing up to the other competitors. (Erik & Nico riding Specialized RSA and will be Jaroslav’s and my back up for ABSA Cape-Epic). 10km before the finish Nico and I ended up riding by ourself for the last podium spot which shinned for Nico.

Very happy with my current shape two weeks before the big one!
 
 
10.02.2015

I love to spice up my routine and when I got invited to Israel for to promote the Israel Epic -a three day stage race north Israel- I was excited about it. Not often the official tourism is behind it such a visit. Business flights, special airport corridor, my personal driver etc. but way more important the people were so friendly plus I learn so much about Israel, its citizen and problems.

Two nights I spend in Tel Aviv. The vibe reminded me about Cape Town, except there is no table mountain, but on the other hand I have seen only one police car within two days and yes there are mosques and minarets. Did you know 20% of the population in Israel are Arabs completely tolerated and accepted?

The Epic Israel is organized by Idit and Gal two avid mountain bikers who have been racing all over the world picking up the best ideas for organizing they're own race. I am very happy to see how well the race develops due the right people behind working all professional plus the most important so many riders are hooked up riding the bike becomes such a passion in life.

For more infos check the links below.


 

 
Link 1: http://www.epicisrael.org.il/en
Link 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUwgB0EbK5Y&list=UUaV-w1lKKBiDqhK...
 
 
19.01.2015
Appends to race/event: 17.01.2015 // Fairview Attakwas Extreme, Outdshoorn/RSA

121km, 2600m of climbing, 4.52hrs
First Place, 4.25min ahead of Stefan Sahm

I started with my training seriously for the new season since I am here in South Africa mid December. I stayed quite fit during my off season. I believe it is important not to lose too much fitness so I don't have to grind myself for weeks until the quality training hits in.

Racing out of training is always hard especially when it is the first race of the season in January and on top of it it is the Attakwas Extreme, probably the hardest one day race in South Africa. If you make it through without mechanicals it is already a huge bonus too! My bonus this year was that the competition was not as good as last year plus I know I have the very best bike and tires (Renegade Control)! We rode very slow the first two hours where one year ago we never looked back that year I came out so cooked off the Attakwas Valley. So I was not unhappy to safe some energy at the beginning but the time record obviously was out of reach. There was even a bonus of zar100’000.- for the first guy finishing below 4.30h but that is a mission (almost) impossible. Ok never say impossible…
It seems it is almost a mind game entering the Attakwas valley after 2hrs into the race. More and less everyone rides his own speed, conserving energy or what is left. Hardly no group riding anyway since it is slow and rough going. I really believe with my S-Works Epic Brain suspension technology I have a big bonus, especially I come out of it more recovered. The only survivors were Gert Heyns and Stefan Sahm. Gert did not look good any more and got dropped at the beginning of the never ending gravel roads towards the finish near the sea. Also Stefan ran out of power later so it was a long time trial to the finish. I was surprised that my finisher time was also my new personal record since we went so slow for the first 2hrs. The last year’s all time record (4.47h) from Huber is still untouched tough.

Hats off to every finisher or tried to finish or just got stuck out there and had at least a great story to tell afterwards!
 

 
 
12.11.2014
Appends to race/event: 07.11.2014 - 09.11.2014 // Wines2Whales, Western Cape/RSA

Friday: 74km, 1500m of climbing, 3.08h
First Place, 7min ahead of Team Kargo

Saturday: 68km, 1200m of climbing, 2.35h
First Place, 3min ahead of Team Kargo

Sunday: 76km, 1200m of climbing, 2.52h
Second Place, few seconds behind Team Kargo

This year I was racing it and not only taking part of this amazing organized trail-wonder stage race. songo.info is the official charity of w2w and offers us a great platform to raise money and awareness.
We sold my songo.info entry since my original paying partner had to go for a business trip, so I jumped into Konny Looser's free spot. Great decision since I could ride with race speed through the flowy trails plus Konny is a fun Swissie which I know since a long time. The perfect combo and i loved it! But was so much more about racing though! I really enjoyed the company of the whole songo crew and guest riders over the three days. Lots of laughing, eating and drinking and thanks god to all the hours in the saddle next to it, it kept us balanced...

The first 2 days Konny and I "dominated" the trails and we won with a good margin, the last one we took it more conservatively but I must admit, it would have been very very hard to break away (if even possible) of the very strong Kargo boys. We raced on a high level or thats how it felt to me.

Thanks to every one who joined and supported us over those days of riding and also to Stillwaters the organization who puts this amazing race together and allows us to be the official charity.
 

 
 
11.10.2014
Appends to race/event: 10.10.2014 - 12.10.2014 // Roc d'Azur, Fréjus/FRA

Sunday Cross Country
55km, 1500m of climbing, 2.12h
6th Plance, 2.12mn off winner Jordan Sarrou

Every year the level and speed increases so much here at Roc. I am sure with my Friday and todays performance I would have won a few years ago (almost) easily. Most of the riders especially the Frenchies going for it. Well me too but it is more and less trying.... Not only heart & head have to be into it, also the whole training and then you still need a super day. Oh well the time of easy winning is over. I still remember my first win here in 2005, when we went for a whole day of mini motocross riding & drinking above Monaco. The next day I won the race (almost) easy.

Today we started super fast again and held the pace all the way until the finish. As in previous years I was not strong enough to race over the firs steep climb with the leaders. I found myself in the second group racing for 4th or 5th place. At the end I sprinted against Carabin from Belgium and this time I lost it.

It feels good to go into the off season with two solid results. Mid December I am still racing Wines2Whales -a three day stage race in South Africa- with Konny Looser.



Friday Marathon
82km, 2270m of climbing, 3.39h
Second Place, 4.29min off winner Maxime Marotte


Since the Swiss Epic my racing life was very quite. My knee was still hurting on and off. Luckily I could enjoy my Enduro bike a little bit. Lots of the time I had to stop doing some stretching, coffee stops or taking gondolas. Riding downhill was no problem and thats the most fun with such a cool bike as the Enduro is.

Unfortunately I had to cancel the Iron Bike Einsiedeln and Extreme sur Loue in France. I wish it would have rained at those races (sorry my egoism :-) but it was all super sunny and warm. Well at home I made the best out of it and I did those Enduro rides.

So I had no idea how my knee and fitness will cope here at the Roc d'Azur Marathon. I knew there is no warm up for the first few kilometers. We are racing completely flat out from the gun on, more and less until the end. Or at least that how it felt to me. Marotte was lead out by his team mate Tempier and we never seen Marotte until the finish line any more. I was in the first chasing group with Huber, Fanger, Paulissen and Porro. We all did our part of leading but this year I did not try to break away over the last climbs before the long flat stretch to the finish. I rather saved my energy for a good attack before a technical trail along the beach. It worked out perfectly and only Fanger could hang on. We two worked together until the airport field where the finish line awaited us. I put all my energy together for the last time and sprinted over the line for second. A place I was really pleased with, after a month of dealing with my injury.

The sea is still very warm here and I was a happy beach boy afterwards, although I probably look more pro on the bike though....
 

 
 
21.09.2014

I seriously don’t like to drop out of a race, especially due an injury! On Friday I tried everything to get myself over the first big climb, but around 200m before the summit the pain in the outside of the knee was just too much. Like a knife stabbing me during every pedal stroke.

I was really looking forward to this race, since it is basically in my backyard knowing most of the trails, the towns, the mountains and also be with the entire team together on the road again.

Never I have found a better place then to ride then in the Valais/Wallis. The options of technical & flowy trails are endless and the views breathtaking. Unfortunately our racing pace was also breathtaking. I had to deal with a cold/flu from the start on which made my days not easy at all. We pros always started like monkeys day by day. Every team wanted to go into the long single tracks first so that builded a dynamic like there were intermediate finish lines along the way.

The prologue Jaro and I finished in fifth place, the first day in second and on day two I hit the deck…. I hit my pedal on a flat single trail on a rock and I immediately flew over my handle bar. Not super man style, much much more like a meteorite. No sliding, impact only! I was so much in pain. Whole back, hips, hand and also headache. Somehow and also with big help from Jaro we still finished fifth, five minutes behind the winning team Vaude on that day. After it, it just went downhill. The following stage I could not ride the very steep uphill to Grächen any more, since that outside knee pain became too much. I ended up walking and I had small hopes for the next day. There I could rip off my number plate of the handle bar after 2h into the race. Luckily I found a nice single trail down to the valley and a shuttle from the organizer brought me up to Grächen. I still wanted to go to the finish in Zermatt but not in a car… Anyway we made the best out of it and took the train up to Gornergrad and rode our freeride bikes downtown Zermatt. Interestingly standing on the bike & walking is no problem, but as soon as I need to pedal the pain is back again. Oh well riding down is anyway more fun then uphill!
 

 
 
  
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