Now that the first round of the UCI World Cup in Stellenbosch is out of the way, many pro riders are finalising their preparation for the Cape Epic. With Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann the reigning champions, there will be some pressure on the team to perform!
Here’s a look at how the SCOTT-SRAM Team Mechanic Yannick turn’s Nino’s XCO machine into a stage race weapon.
The XX1 Quarq cranks remain (in 175mm) but the chain ring drops from a 38t to a 26 or 34, depending on the stages. There’s a multi tool in the axle too!
Schurter also uses a Sahmurai SWORD in his handlebars, it’s a ready to go tubeless plug set and reamer, made by marathon and stage race royalty, Stefan Sahm. The pedals are from Ritchey.
Compared to settings for an XCO World Cup, Nino Schurter runs less air in his suspension, for a more supple feel to help prevent fatigue. ‘Tokens’ which are volume spacers in the fork and shock, are added to help the suspension ramp up more instead of just blowing through the travel. The TwinLoc system means lockout and handling isn’t compromised by lower pressures.
The tyres are Maxxis Aspen EXO TR 29 x 2.25″, with 80mL sealant per tyre. Nino had some special tyres for the Olympics with 170tpi (not the 120tpi for this set) and the team have developed a new tread pattern. But it’s not shown here – although we are keen to see it.
The bars are 680mm with a 90mm stem with a negative rise. The narrow bars suit XCO starts, and given how most stages of the Cape Epic start – that’s still useful!
The wheels are still DT Swiss XRC 1200, 28 spoke, carbon rimmed and with DT Spline hubs. They have a 25mm internal rim measurement.
Nino uses the Maxle with lever up front, and a similar unit at the back with a removable head – for faster wheel changes. Discs are both 160mm for the SRAM Level Ultimate brakes. The group set is SRAM Eagle XX1 – probably not the eTap prototype we saw him using in the World Cup.
A spare tube goes into a Topeak saddle bag, a little different compared to some who choose to attach their spares lower on the bike. But saddlebags work!
There’s also some gaffa tape on the seat tube – this will work as a tyre boot, or for a number of other uses.
Each rider, including Nino, carries a quick link. Schurter has his with his Garmin mount.
With a Topeak pump on the frame, a larger 750mL bottle compared to a 500mL (note, you can only carry one bottle on a Scott Spark within the frame) the bike is ready to go.
How can you optimise your bike setup for a stage race?
Why not take cues from above? Nino isn’t doing anything to change his bike fit, mostly it’s about carrying spares on the bike in a secure and lightweight way, and for the Cape Epic, running tyres with more puncture protection. The slightly softer suspension has been done while also changing how the suspension ramps up – which isn’t something most of us can do in our own workshop – but it does highlight the benefits of custom suspension tuning. Nino has also lowered his gearing a little to maintain strength for the whole 8 days.
So the best advice we can take from this multiple world champion is – don’t do anything crazy! Take the spares you need, and run equipment that will be reliable.
Photos: Jochen Haar