- New pro riders for one of the world’s most recognized
mountain bike brands are training in SA.
- Stellenbosch has an abundance of trails and sport science facilities, making it the ideal off-season training hub.
- Northern Hemisphere riders love coming to Stellenbosch for training – even during lockdown.
Specialized has announced a powerful factory mountain bike racing team for the 2021 season. The Californian brand revealed its new team members during a training camp in Stellenbosch.
Each season many of the world’s best mountain bikers spend a month or two in Stellenbosch, during peak summer, to escape the northern hemisphere winter and benefit from the excellent trails and training facilities.
With Specialized’s South African operations being headquartered in Stellenbosch, the choice of venue as a training destination for its elite mountain bikers, is made that much easier.
For the 2021 season, Specialized has a fresh team roster, preparing to compete at the UCI’s World Cup events. The deferred Tokyo Olympics will also be a meaningful personal goal for riders on the Specialized team.
Rainbow stripes for Specialized
Current men’s World Champion, Jordan Sarrou, is the most significant new addition. The Frenchman has clear goals for this year. "I want to be at the start at the Tokyo Olympic Games, then to defend my world title and be on top for the World Cup races."
Sarrou’s Specialized Epic S-Works mountain bike is finished in a brilliant rainbow colour design, which echoes his status as current World Champion, wearing the iconic rainbow stripe jersey.
Italy’s Gerhard Kerschbaumer is the other lead male rider and for him, the Stellenbosch training camp has been a welcome experience, to riding for an elite team.
"I never had a soigneur or a personal mechanic before and I need to get used to having access to all of this new information and product. I can learn a lot from Jordan who is the world champion and I look forward to 2021 with the team."
The Swiss and Austrian riders love Stellenbosch
Recognizing the competitive value of female racers, and the significant popularity of mountain biking amongst South African women with a penchant for outdoor activity, Specialized has signed Sina Frei and Laura Stigger.
Frei is a hugely accomplished junior rider with the Swiss having won virtually everything in women’s U/23 cross-country mountain biking.
Using the advanced Retül fit process, the team can rapidly get their new riders comfortable on Specialized’s bikes and components. Making small yet meaningful adjustments, and then having the proximity of excellent trail diversity around Stellenbosch to test, creates the opportunity for rapid advancement.
Sina has already seen progress with the integration of her set-up. "Riding here in Stellenbosch, the bike is smooth and very precise in handling. I also had a Retül fit for the first time ever and the data is really interesting. I enjoy seeing the numbers. We have made a few tweaks, improving my position on the bike."
The team baby for this season will be 20-year old Austrian, Laura Stigger. Despite being eligible to race in the u/23 category, Laura’s ambitions are lofty and she has committed to a season in the women’s elite ranks.
"It is my first time in Stellenbosch and it is a big change from the cross country skiing that I have been doing back home in Austria. The riding, the food, the people are all awesome and I am very happy to be here."