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02.07.2015
Appends to race/event: 27.06.2015 // Marathon World Championships Val Gardena, ITA

87km, 4700m of climbing, 4.27h
Second Place, 2min behind winner Alban Lakata

I am writing this column in the train towards the XCO World Cup in Lenzerheide. Going to a race and not racing myself is quite a change, but I am looking forward to start working with our team riders, team staff, engineers and marketing people together. And yes I still love mountain biking with all it's disciplines and sure I keep on riding and stay fit. Might not as fit as I was last Saturday, but the new adventures will make up for it big time.

I was really happy that after 3 difficult weeks -from my crash to world champs- everything still came more and less together again. It was a roller coaster with up and downs. Finally I was really happy with my second place. Who ever knows me I wanted to be on top step of the podium but second is all I had, Alban was just stronger.

It was a serious climbing race. I did not know beforehand that it is possible to climb & descent 4700m during 87km in 4.30h.... Towards racing day I started to feel better and better since it was difficult to breath for me with the broken rips, especially the whole course was above 1500m.

During the race I felt terrible for the first 2hrs. Like an old horse breathing and the legs heavy. I knew over the first climb I will have to go into the downhill first, since there was a long single track ahead and the women who started in front of us were still on it. I just did not have it at that point and started descending in 10th place. Alban raced away of us during that section and I was stuck behind. After it we never got close to him any more and I was jojo'ing in our group, getting dropped on the climbs, fighting back during the downhills. Luckily after the super steep middle climb which I conquered in fifth place I managed to fight back in the descend into the group for second together with Paez & Periklis. My spirit was "celebrated a comeback"! Periklis we dropped in the second last downhill, and I was hanging on super climber Paez during the remaining 45min to the finish. I knew I am cleverer then him, plus I have the better punch. He was leading all the way during the pedaling downhill'sh stretch towards the finish trying to drop me, but in his draft it was more recovering then anything else. I waited until the very last moment before the final short downhill. I sprinted to the front dropped him a few seconds and managed to cross the line happily in second.

It was so so cool to see all the exciting team members and friends waiting for me. Not sure if the pavement is dry there again from all the tears....

A HUGE thank to everybody who has been involved in my career. I believe it was the key ingredient for my long career. I enjoyed every moment of it!
 
 
02.07.2015


CHRISTOPH SAUSER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM RACING

Morgan Hill, Calif., June 26th, 2015 - After a glittering career spanning more than two decades, Christoph Sauser, 38, has announced that he will be retiring from mountain bike racing in mid-2015. His last professional race will be the UCI Marathon World Championships in Val Gardena, Italy this weekend, where he will be gunning for a fourth Marathon World Championship title.

When asked how he was feeling heading into his last Marathon World Championships, Christoph responded, "One last shot to win Marathon Worlds before I retire from the pro circus! With my crash now behind me, which left me out with two broken ribs, I am very positive to put all my energy into this climber's course in the Italian Dolomites."

Sauser has enjoyed success from an early age. Initially a downhill racer in his teens, he found his true calling in the marathon and cross-country disciplines, winning three marathon World titles (2007, 2011, 2013), a cross country World Championship (2008), 14 elite World Cup XCOs, the Cross Country World Cup overall twice (2004 & 2005), and six Swiss National titles. The Swiss pioneer also made his way onto the top step of the podium in five ABSA Cape Epics (2006, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2015), as well as earning the bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

The Swiss pioneer attributes the longevity of his career on his ability to stay focused on the task at hand, and like any champion, a healthy dose of self-belief and a burning desire to cross the finish line first. He said, "ever since I started racing professionally, I have had supportive people around me who have inspired me to perform at my best. Their hard work allowed me to focus entirely on what I was at the races to do – which was to win. Without them, I would not have achieved what I have, especially such a long career, and I am super thankful for that."

Having spent the past eight seasons with Specialized Racing, it's not surprising that Sauser's future lies with the California-based company, shifting into a mentorship role under the official title of Global Sports Marketing Performance Director. The role will see him working closely with Specialized athletes in all disciplines, passing on what he has learned in order to help fine-tune their day-to-day and race-day routines in an effort to maximize their potential. Another key focus will be identifying and nurturing young talent. The concept of giving back is nothing new for Sauser, the founder of Songo.info – a charity that empowers underprivileged children through mountain biking.

"Mountain biking has been my life for over 20 years now, and I am very excited to be able to help develop the next generation of champions for Specialized." said Christoph.

About Christoph Sauser: http://www.iamspecialized.com/members/christophsauser

About Specialized: Specialized Bicycle Components was founded in 1974 by riders for riders. Based in Northern California, we focus on the rider’s need for functional and technically advanced products that provide a performance benefit.
 
 
02.07.2015
Appends to race/event: 27.06.2015 // Marathon World Championships Val Gardena, ITA

87km, 4700m of climbing, 4.27h
Second Place, 2min behind winner Alban Lakata

I am writing this column in the train towards the XCO World Cup in Lenzerheide. Going to a race and not racing myself is quite a change, but I am looking forward to start working with our team riders, team staff, engineers and marketing people together. And yes, I still love mountain biking with all it's disciplines and sure I keep on riding and stay fit. Might not as fit as I was last Saturday, but the new adventures will make up for it big time.

I was really happy that after 3 difficult weeks -from my crash to world champs- everything still came more & less together again. It was a roller coaster with up and downs. Finally I was really happy with my second place. Who ever knows me I wanted to be on top step of the podium but second is all I had, Alban was just stronger.

It was a serious climbing race. I did not know beforehand that it is possible to climb & descent 4700m during 87km in 4.30h.... Towards racing day I started to feel better and better since it was difficult to breath for me with the broken rips, especially the whole course was above 1500m.

During the race I felt terrible for the first 2hrs. Like an old horse breathing and the legs heavy. I knew over the first climb I will have to go into the downhill first, since there was a long single track ahead and the women who started in front of us were still on it. I just did not have it at that point and started descending in 10th place. Alban raced away of us during that section and I was stuck behind. After it, we never got close to him any more and I was jojo'ing in our group, getting dropped on the climbs, fighting back during the downhills. Luckily after the super steep middle section which I conquered in fifth place I managed to fight back in the descend into the group for second, joining Paez & Periklis. My spirit "celebrated a comeback"! Periklis got dropped in the second last downhill, and I was hanging on super climber Paez during the remaining 45min to the finish. I knew I am cleverer then him, plus I have the better punch. He was leading all the way during the pedaling downhill'ish stretch towards the finish trying to drop me, but in his draft it was more recovering then anything else. I waited until the very last moment before the final short descent. I sprinted to the front dropped him a few seconds and managed to cross the line happily in second.

It was so so cool to see all the exciting team members and friends waiting for me. Not sure if the pavement is dry there again from all the tears....

A HUGE thank to everybody who has been involved in my career. I believe it was the key ingredient for my long career. I enjoyed every moment of it!
 

 
 
21.06.2015
Appends to race/event: 17.06.2015 - 20.06.2015 // BiKE Four Peaks, AUT

4 days of total 270km, 8'860m of climbing, 11.35h racing time
2nd place overall, 5.32min off winner Juri Ragnoli

My crash in Gränichen really did not “went down well”… I was riding with my team mate Sam Gaze on the bike path next to each other. When we turned left off the path I did not see two big rocks in the drive way (for blocking cars off) and I crashed straight into the one with my chest and leg. Haven’t been in such pain since a long time. I almost had to puke and felt dizzy. I ended up 6 hours in hospital and left with pain and lots of painkillers plus a very bad feeling in my head. At that point I had no idea if I can race “Bike Four Peaks” or World Champs my final race as a pro.

Making the long story short my road to recovery was very painful and spiked with a lots of up & downs, but luckily more ups then downs.

I was already happy to be able to start “Bike Four Peaks” but my head and legs were not really into it on the first day. I did not have any “tunnel” vision and my legs felt one speed only. No acceleration! They were “sealed" and obviously I lost also a lot of time in the downhills to a charging Ragnoli who beat me by almost 5min on that day. Without a positive wonder the overall was out of sight!

Day two did not started any better, but luckily we did not climb as long as the day before, so I was hanging in there. Racing is such a mental game and coming close to the finish and charging over the last hills I got very excited, my heart rate finally also started to jump so as my legs span for free. The final sprint I lost by a few cm to Calle Friberg.

Day three was my day and also the kings stage. After a 10km neutralization we climbed 1300m straight up and it was Ragnoli and myself braking away. I tried hard to drop him on the following climbs but he could stay on. We more and less charged uphill by more then 400 wattages all the time. Also the long and fast downhill to the finish did not made any difference, but this time I won the sprint and finally I won a race again since the ABSA Cape-Epic. It was also the first day I did not take any painkillers and I started to feel very positive for worlds.

Day four’s profile did not have any long climbs and the racing was pretty nervous. Unfortunately I had a double flat tire at the same time in a rockier gravel descend in the four mens leading group. Luckily I brought two big co2 with me, plus I could plug the tires with my super South African plugs. The hole fix took me 3-4minutes and it was still an hour to go to the finish. I had an incredible run and almost caught the leading group again, well missed it by 30sec at the end. Probably my best performance this week next to yesterday’s stage and even with the double flat I could defended my second place overall.

Now I am looking very positive ahead to World Champs. One week to go….
 

 
 
26.05.2015
Appends to race/event: 24.05.2015 // Trans Vesubienne Nice, FRA

93km, 3300m of climbing, 6.11h, with 5’ time penalty 2.16h
Second Place, 2.50min off Alexis Chenevier

Racing Trans Vesubienne is like a mini holiday with a big push on Sunday morning! I travelled with my old mechanic Pädi plus we had awesome support from Specialized France.

The start is up at 1500m back in the mountains of Nice a town called St. Martine la Vesubie. No bling bling there like at the coast where the finish is. I love to stay up there. Just incredible trails to ride, a few super restaurants & boulangeries and this year the weather was good too.

I arrived with a brand new Stumpjumper Bike in my luggage and could not wait to go and ride it on Friday for 3hrs for the first time. It is the best bike I’ve ever ridden and I am not saying this as sponsored Specialized rider! Not only that it is so light and stiff, it also handles like a Enduro Bike downhill but as twitchy like my Epic due its short chainstays and low bottom bracket. For going uphill I locked my shock out and even out of the saddle with the trail geometry/position I felt super comfortable and fast. There was no technical uphill section I could have done any better with my Epic. The command post gave me lots of confidence especially I could ride the tight corners much faster since I could “steer” with my butt as well and had the weight where I wanted. In my eyes this is the biggest advantage of a dropper post. With the saddle far out you have to go behind the saddle which often is not the ideal positon, often it is very low above the saddle. One of the best features is the SWAT box in the downtube. (check pictures) This allowed me to do the race without any backpack and I still had all the spares I needed. Tire wise I’ve chosen Fast Track 2.2 Grid Casing in the rear and Ground Control 2.3 Control Casing in the Front. Very Unique also my INpower Rotor Cranks with power meter. Those cranks are so incredible stiff & light (only 50gr heavier then the REX1) and I have my power data showed on my Garmin. I tried to climb not below 360 Watts so it was a good “ass kicker” in the race, since I was out there riding more and less by myself.

But the best bike does not help much when you take a wrong turn in the middle of the city in Nice with 2km to go….

The start of the race is at 6am. Means I had to wake up after 4am. I cut up 2 bananas added chocolate powder, fromage blanc and maple sirup to it. Very easy to eat at that time! It just got bright half hour before the start and it was still very cold. Already after 1h it was pretty much lonely racing since it is so technical every rider more and less has to check or concentrate for himself and can not have eyes for the competitors too much. Still I ended up racing a lot with Alexis together who won the last 2 editions. After mid of the race I extended my lead up to around 3min. I never pushed in the downhills too much. The risk of the crash or technical problem is too high especially there was no big need for it since I was climbing much better then Alexis. I had zero drama out there in the beautiful country side. Not even close to a crash once neither to a mechanical which is super rare on this crazy challenging course. My frustrating drama only happened in the city of Nice. We rode through a semi dry river bed for a long time with ugly scum of water which we had to cross a few times. Already there it was poorly marked and so many times I thought I am wrong I must have missed the exit of it. Finally back in the city streets I thought the last sign which I have seen is going left on the bike path but it meant going over a bridge. Big bummer! Obviously after a while I have not seen signs any more but two mountain bikers which followed me for a while just told me to go straight. Well I ended up at the sea and found the finish line but from a complete different direction after I tried to find my way through the city. I still crossed the line first, but Alexis protested for my detour and I got a 5min time penalty. Just enough that he could win the race. I was pretty frustrated to lose such a difficult race on the last 2kms just because I judged a sign wrong.

Big thanks to my friend & mechanic Pädi, plus Specialized France who looked so well after me over those few days. Feeding is a big challenge in the middle of nowhere, racing around 24234 corners on cliffy small roads from one to the other feed zone!
 

 
 
16.05.2015
Appends to race/event: 10.05.2015 // Marathon European Championships Singen, GER

2 laps, 98km, 2800m of climbing
did not finish due broken shock

Luckily this race was not marked deep red in my calendar, but obviously I wanted to defend my title on this super fast course without any technical sections. I also like those courses. Drafting, tactical, lots of rhythm changes and at end also hard since it is 2800m of climbing.

No idea why I had a first flat tire 5min into the race on a asphalt climb. I did not even bring spare parts since I thought it is impossible to flat on a course where the biggest bump is almost as much as the change from gravel to asphalt. Thanks so much to my Dariusz MIroslaw to give me a co2 bomb at that point!!! I ended up chasing for almost half hour and just when I made it to the leading group (not to the front of it) the course bottlenecked into a very narrow walking section. Right there it formed a 3 men leading group with Jaro and I was still stuck behind. The train was gone, but that did not matter anyway. My fork lost air, my tire too so I flatted again, changed wheel in tech zone, re-pumped my shock, and just before completing the last lap I lost air again in my rear tire. An other pit stop but a few minutes my shock completely blew and that was it. Luckily close to the hotel, luckily also this race was not too far away from home. I was back at dinner time…. Super well done to my team mate Jaro who showed his big power and won a few seconds ahead of surprising Sascha Weber.
 
 
29.04.2015
Appends to race/event: 24.04.2015 - 26.04.2015 // Whiskey Off-Road, Prescott/USA

Friday Short Track, 20min plus 3 laps, 17km, 450m of climbing
3rd place, 2sec behind winner Sam Gaze

Whiskey 50 is one of my favorite weeks in my schedule. It is not only the racing and good organization itself what makes it special, it is also the unique town with the famous Whiskey Row and its saloons, the great trails combined with the landscape and good weather plus the cheerful spectators.

With Sam, Howy, Todd, our two mechanics John & Brad, manager/soigneur Kandice we were a very strong and fun force during and next to racing. Results often also reflect the atmosphere in the team!

The short track course was really hard with lots of climbing and the surface was 100% tarmac held the middle of Prescott. I have chosen my full suspension Epic bike since you can only use one bike over the weekend for both races and Sunday was a real full suspension course, and with the Epic we have the best fully on the market!

I took it very conservatively for most of the race. From my position it was great to see all my team mates always racing in the mix for a breakaway. On the last lap just before the top of the course I attacked and made a few seconds. I knew Sam would be the best sprinter, either me now or himself in the final stretch before the finish. I led the field until the last two corners, Sam came around with Zandstra on his wheel and won the sprint comfortably. I cannot remember when I ever finished 3rd in a Short Track. I was super happy with it!


Sunday Marathon, 78km, 2000m of climbing, 3.06h
5th place, 5min behind winner Howard Grotts

It rained a lot during the night what is very unusual for dry Arizona. It was also pretty cold at the start but more and less dry. I have chosen my skinsuit and underneath a first layer jersey, knee and arm warmers. I rather over dress a little. It is easy to give away the extra clothes at the feed zones in case I get too warm.

Since Sea Otter Classic I’ve been racing with a sweet power meter from Rotor! In combination with the Rex cranks and oval chainrings the best power meter on the market. Super reliable, very light, stiff and simple to handle! http://inpower.rotorbike.com The wattage pushes me during the race and gives me great feedback in training!

The race itself did not go according to my gusto. Already after 20min leading into a long single trail stretch I had a rear flat tire. I first tried to fix it by myself. Sam stopped next to me and offered me his wheel. True friendship and teamwork! Thanks a million Sam! After this 2min pit stop I started chasing. It took me a good 45min until I was luckily in the leading group again. I must admit the chasing was hurting in my head and legs especially since the race is in between 1700-2100 altitude meters. I was hanging now in the leading group on the hard rolling wet gravel road towards the big climb. Howard Grotts my team mate climbed like Pantani just clean. No chance I could have hang on any more. At the end I reached the top of the course in second together with Zandstra hanging on my wheel. Now more and less 30min of single trails with sharp rocks were ahead of us. Often one flat tire never comes alone… number two happened 15min before the finish. I had no more co2 bomb with me. A spectator helped me out, but I got passed by an other two riders while I was fixing it and finally finished 5th.


This year’s racing in America was not close as successful as last year where I could win both, Sea Otter and Whiskey 50. All in all it was still a really cool trip. A big thank to the whole "Specialized Family”! We have a good balance of professionalism and fun. It is all about the balance :-)
 

 
 
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.
 

 
 
  
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