It has been months of preparation and countless hours of testing equipment. Now, finally, it is time to go racing.
On Saturday the Specialized Factory XCO team will line up at the XCO Città di Albenga race in Ligure, Italy for the first event of the 2021 season. The C2 race will give riders an opportunity to put their S-Works Epic to the test in a racing environment, which up until this point has only been training simulation.
In preparation for the race, the Specialized Factory racing team based themselves in Finale Ligure, a world renown mountain bike destination. This is the second training camp for the newly formed team which follows their first encounter in Stellenbosch, South Africa. For Jordan Sarrou and his teammates, it has been months since their last race and while the C2 race is a smaller event, the nerves and excitement ahead of race day still remain.
“I feel really motivated and excited to pin a race number again and to represent my sponsors. I hope the winter preparations that I did will pay off on race day. It is going to be great to race with my friend Gerhard and I look forward to a good battle on the race course. ” – Jordan Sarrou
During their time in Finale Ligure, riders had the opportunity to work with Marcel Keyser, Sr. Vehicle Dynamics Engineer to dial in suspension their suspension setup in anticipation of the natural style race course.
“It is an important part for me to have Marcel here for the suspension testing to help me set up the rebound and compliance of the fork and rear suspension. After the work we have done over the past days, I am really comfortable with the settings and I am excited to get racing tomorrow.” – Jordan Sarrou
While the World Champion will be on the start line in the men’s race, Gerhard Kerschbaumer is the clear crowd favorite. The Italian moved to Specialized at the start of 2021 and is chomping at the bit to get racing aboard the S-Works Epic.
“I feel really good for this race. I trained very hard and we started the year early in Stellenbosch. I feel that the shape is good, but tomorrow will be the first test. The bike is really good, the training is good and the team setup is really good. It is not my hometown race, but today on the course, it was very motivating to hear the people shouting for me and taking the photos. Italian people are very passionate and I love racing here in Italy.” – Gerhard Kerschbaumer
Sina Frei and Laura Stigger have formed a tight bond during their time at the two team camps, but this weekend they will line up as competitors. Stigger is really excited to get racing on Saturday and kick off the season with a strong result. “I am very excited to start the season with the race here in Italy. The week before the race we had a really special time with the team. We rode together, had some fun together and I think it is important to have training camps in preparation for the racing. The course is fast and is mostly single-track so I think it is going to be fun to race. I think Sina and I will push each other, but the main goal is to work together and have fun.”
Similarly, Frei is full of praise for her teammate and look forward to compete for race day honors on Saturday. “Of course I am excited to get the racing going. It will be a good test ahead of the world cup season and this week in Finale has been a really good time with the team. It is important to have a good vibe in the team and the last few days have been great. Laura and I are really good friends, but tomorrow we are competitors. Hopefully we can help each other if possible, but ultimately we will fight for the win and I am very excited to see the outcome of the race.” – Sina Frei
Words: Specialized Factory Racing
Photos: Michal Cerveny