One of the most powerful teams from the past few years is even stronger in 2019. With the addition of World Champion Kate Courtney and European Champion Lars Forster, SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing heads into another promising XC World Cup season. Team director Thomas Frischknecht alongside team captain Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht and the crew have met for the very first team camp in the US. Warm temperatures and great trails in Tucson, Arizona, offered the perfect conditions for 10 days of quality training. On top of that, SCOTT SRAM’s first team gathering was a great way to get to know each other. Final verdict: “The team spirit is awesome, the riders are extremely motivated and the staff are on fire.” Good reasons for Thomas Frischknecht and his team to look optimistic towards the 2019 season and set high goals.
First stop: Cape Epic
The team’s focus in 2019 will be on the World Cup, as well as the World Championship in Mount Saint Anne, Canada, in late August. For the male riders the season gets spiced up with the Cape Epic in South Africa (March 16th-24th), which will be the first highlight of the year. This time the Olympic and World Champion will team up with young gun, Andri Frischknecht. The Swiss team is feeling optimistic towards the world’s most prestigious MTB stage race. “We all know by experience that this unpredictable race can go either way”. Nino Schurter says. “With Andri, we have a good chance to be in the mix for the top placings. He is a proven talent in stage racing. You never know, it could possibly go super well like it did in 2017, when we won the Epic, or it can go down the drain with mechanicals, illness or other misfortune like last year.”
2018 Swiss Epic winner, Andri Frischknecht adds “Riding the Cape Epic with my mentor N1NO is like a dream coming true. I’ll give it 100% and a bit more to take this opportunity and show what I’m capable of.”
More contenders themselves than just a backup team are Lars Forster and Gert Heyns. SCOTT-SRAM’s European Champion and the South African Marathon Champion will compete under the name DSV/SCOTT-SRAM, which is the fusion of both teams they are racing for. With Cape Epic rookie, Lars Forster – known for his big engine – and SCOTT rider, Gert Heyns – a well experienced Cape Epic rider and stage winner – the two champions are likely to be in the mix for this year’s podium battles.
For Lars Forster, it’s going to be his first Cape Epic. He is excited to finally be at the race: “I’m looking forward to this great event. With Gert, I’ll have an experienced partner on my side. I’m optimistic that the Cape Epic is going to be a great build up to the World Cup season, which is my primary goal this year.”
World Champion Kate Courtney will be racing the World Cup and World Championship but for a great part of the season she is on a different schedule than her male counter-parts. US Cup races, the Sea Otter Classic, as well as the PANAM Games in Mexico in April form the build up for her World Cup season.
Team director Thomas Frischknecht: “For Kate, it’s important to continue developing as a top 10 World Cup racer just as she did last year and not be primarily seen as only the World Champion. Winning the World’s title at only 22 years of age proved what she is capable of. But it’s not realistic to believe she can repeat winning at the highest level all the time. However, being so young, she still has great room for improvement and is able to learn things quickly. It’s going to be exciting to see how her season unfolds this year.”