London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Burry Stander

Burry Stander in action at Houffalize

Burry Stander

  • Age: 24
  • Nationality: South African
  • Team: Specialized
  • Best results: Under-23 World Championships 2009 Canberra 1st, World Cup Pietermaritzburg 2012 2nd
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 4

He says: “The Olympics is my number one focus, but in mountain bike racing anything can happen. You’ve got to take the whole season as it comes and take your chances and opportunities whenever they come. I’m happy to have had good results so far this year, so I’ll continue to try knocking on the door. I haven’t had a win yet this year and I’d really like to pull a win off before we get to the Olympics just to get that confidence boost.

I know the course pretty well. It’s quite loose over hard pack; it’s quite challenging actually. The weather will play a big factor, and how the course changes when it has a ton of riders going round for two weeks leading up to the Olympics.

I feel like anyone in the top ten can win on that course. It’s got similarities to the track at Nove Mesto and you saw how close the racing was there. I feel like the climbs are even shorter on the Olympic track, so that means the racing will be even closer. I can see ten guys in the space of a minute. Whoever keeps it together on the day, no mistakes, will win. Obviously good legs are going to help, and maybe some sprinting legs as well.

I think the organisers have done a great job in making it wide open, so that anyone can come in and win. I think its going to be a really exciting with the winner not being decided until right at the end.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Burry Stander

Stander's S-Works Stumpjumper hardtail

  • Bike: Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper Carbon 29
  • Frame: FACT IS 11m carbon fibre
  • Fork: RockShox Reba, 90mm travel with BRAIN
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX/Specialized, 10-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Specialized Roval Control SL carbon, 29in
  • Weight (approx): 19.5lbs

He says: “I’ll race the Stumpjumper 29er hardtail; I’ve raced it the whole year. I’ve been sticking to that bike with the Olympics in mind, trying different tyre set-ups, always thinking what going to be best on the Olympics style terrain. It’s not the time to try something new, but I’m sure we’ll have some special existing equipment for the race.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Florian Vogel

Florian Vogel

Florian Vogel

  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Team: Scott-Swisspower
  • Best results: World Championships 2008 Val di Sol 2nd, World Championships 2009 Canberra 3rd
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 10

He says: “I went to the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, but I didn’t finish. So you could say I have some unfinished business.

The Olympic course in London is pretty nice. It’s all man made, which is kind of special for a mountain bike course, but it’s a good thing for spectators. I think it’s a pretty physical course to ride with a lot of short steep climbs and we will see a really nice race with lots of action.

I would bet on Nino Schurter for the win. I know him quite well, and to me he’s the strongest at the moment. But there are some other guys who are also quite fast, like Julien Absalon and Jaraslav Kuhlhavy. They are, for sure, strong guys and I think they really focus on the Olympics. One of these three guys will win.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Florian Vogel's Scott

Vogel's Scott with 650B wheels

  • Bike: Scott Scale 650b(27.5in)
  • Frame: HMX net carbon fibre
  • Fork: DT Swiss XRC-100, 100mm travel with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XRC 950, 27.5in
  • Weight (approx): 19.5lbs

He says: “I am going to race the Scott Scale 27.5in, or 650b, or whatever you call it! I think we have a pretty good set-up. We are working on some new tyres specially made for the Olympic course, which can be an advantage. But for the rest it’s pretty much the same set up we ride now.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Jaroslav Kulhavy

Kulhavy is another strong contender

Jaroslav Kulhavy

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Czech
  • Team: Specialized
  • Best results: World Championships 2011 Champery 1st
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 3

He says: “There’s always an amazing atmosphere at the Olympic Games. They are the main event of most sports, but in cycling I think maybe the World Champs is more important. In road cycling maybe the Tour de France is more. But more people, everywhere, know about the Olympics; it’s another dimension.

It’s not a classic course. It will be a special race because the first half of the race will be too fast, then it will be really hard. It is really fast and technical with big stones and rocks.

I think maybe five guys can win: Nino Schurter; Julian Absalon; Burry Stander; and maybe some guy from Cannondale, Manuel Fumic or Marco Fontana.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Jarolsav Kulhavy's Epic 29er

Kulhavy's Epic 29er

  • Bike: Specialized S-Works Epic Carbon 29
  • Frame: FACT IS 11m carbon-fibre, full-suspension with BRAIN
  • Fork: RockShox Reba, 90mm travel with BRAIN
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XO/XX with Type 2 derailleur and Specialized S-Works carbon cranks, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Specialized Roval Control SL carbon, 29in
  • Weight (approx): 21lbs

He says: “I still don’t know which bike will be better in London. It’s a big problem for me because I tried the hardtail and the Epic. I will decide perhaps three days before the race. The track is fast with sharp corners, so the hardtail is better there because it’s shorter and better for corners. But some sections are really dangerous for getting a flat tyre.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Jose Hermida

Hermida is always a crowd favourite

Jose Hermida

  • Age: 33
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Team: Multivan Merida
  • Best results: Olympics Athens 2004 2nd, World Championships Monte Sainte-Anne 2010 1st
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 8

He says: “London is going to be my fourth Olympics. I started in 2000 in Sydney with 4th position, then in Athens, let’s say it was my peak with 2nd, and Beijing 10th.

Between winning the World Championships and the Olympics it’s a difficult question. It’s like who do you like more your mother or your father?! I always say the same; the Olympics is more like the Oscars for film or for actor, and the World Championships is like a Pulitzer for the media. It’s your community; your community showing you respect. For me I think the World Championships is more important.

The Olympics is like a big cloud that covers everything during the season. When we get close to the Olympics it’s going to be the main focus for everybody, but one month after we have the World Championships. I touched the glory of the World Champs in 2010 and I liked it. I got addicted to those rainbow jerseys so I’m going to try again this year to get the jersey back in Austria.

If I’m honest I was one of the first guys to be really critical of the course last year when I saw it for the first time on Youtube. I thought it was against the philosophy of mountain biking, which from my point of view, is to use the natural terrain you have on a mountain. But after training a couple of days on the course I changed my opinion. I have to show my respect to the guys in England that they worked hard to get the Olympics and they worked hard to build a course. And the course finally looks more and more mountain bike. It’s a really fast course; technical but really fast. It’s a good course for me but it’s going to be a really hard fight. It’s only 50 guys in the race and probably the top 30 will be able to make the top 10 or 5.

Nino Shurter is showing incredible shape right now. I think he is even more mature than last year, and he has grown up in the brain and the body. And the killer Kulhavy from last year is back. Absalon is going to be there. I hope I’m going to be up there too. But the Olympics is not about who is the strongest; it’s about who makes less mistakes and who manages the pressure. Most of the time, the Olympic champion has these qualities.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Jose Hermida

Jose will buck the trends and ride a 26in wheel bike

 

  • Bike: Merida 0.Nine Superlite Team-D
  • Frame: High modulus carbon-fibre
  • Fork: DT Swiss XRC-100, 100mm travel with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Alex Pro XCR, 26in
  • Weight (approx): 19lbs

He says: “The lucky bike I will use in the Olympics will be a 29er. It’s going to be the first time a 29er bike takes part in the Olympics. For sure, many, many 29ers will be in the Olympics.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Julien Absalon

Absalon has already won two Olympic gold medals

Julian Absalon

  • Age: 31
  • Nationality: French
  • Team: Orbea
  • Best results: Olympics Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 1st, 4x World Champion
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 2

He says: “My main goal for the season is the Olympics. You have no bigger event. It’s every four years, so if you miss out on one, you need to wait four years. And also when you win a World Championship you win the biggest race in the mountain bike war, but when you win the Olympics you touch everyone, all the media, all the people, it’s much bigger. So the level will be really, really high.

The course is fun to ride. It’s totally artificial, but I think it’s hard and also technical. It will be a good show for the spectators.

For sure, Nina Shurter will be one of the favourites. Maybe also Jaroslav Kuhlhavy, Hermida or Ralph Naef. Marco Fontana is doing a great season this year, and his team mate Manuel Fumic, so maybe ten riders can fight in front.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Julien Absalon

Absalon feels most comfortable on 26in wheels

  • Bike: Orbea Alma
  • Frame: Monocoque carbon fibre
  • Fork: RockShox Sid World Cup, 100mm travel, with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Mavic Crossmax SLR, 26in
  • Weight (approx): 20lbs

He says: “I will ride the 26in Alma. It’s the same bike I’m always riding, because the feeling on the 26in bike is better, and I think for the Olympic course it’s the best bike.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Manuel Fumic

It will be the third Olympics for Fumic

Manuel Fumic

  • Age: 31
  • Nationality: German
  • Team: Cannondale Factory Team
  • Best results: World Championships under-23 2004 1st
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 5

He says: “This is going to be my third time at the Olympics. In Beijing I was really close to a medal; I was fighting with Shurter and Sauser for the bronze medal until the last lap and then I got a flat tyre and finished 11th. But it’s ok I am looking forward to London now.

My strategy is simple; to get a medal! This is the only strategy!

It’s difficult to predict these big races like the Olympics; they have their own rules. It’s really important to get a good day, prepare well, focus well and then anything can happen. The one guy who you didn’t see running at the front at the World Cups, maybe he can also join the top guys.

It’s nice that it’s open. You can’t really point out one guy who is going for the gold medal. I think it makes it interesting for the sport.

The course is a typical Olympic course. It has to suit every man from all over the world. So, in the end I think you won’t find any guy that says it doesn’t suit him. It’s going to be a fast one and I think it’s going to be interesting for the spectators because I think you will find a lot of guys in the front at the beginning. It will look like a road race, then each lap some guy will get dropped. I think it’s going to show people out there how interesting our sport is.”

 

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Manuel Fumic Flash 29er

Fumic will opt for his Flash 29er hardtail

  • Bike: Cannondale Flash 29er Ultimate
  • Frame: High modulus carbon fibre
  • Fork: Cannondale Lefty 29er Carbon, 90mm travel, with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX/XO Type 2 derailleur, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Mavic SSC, 29in
  • Weight (approx): 18.5lbs

He says: “I’m going to ride the Flash 29er hardtail. At the moment we don’t have the perfect solution, but for that thing I think SRAM is already working on it (11-speed), so we will see. But I think we don’t need two chainrings.. Now I know which bike I will use, so I can finally focus just on the bike and then we’ll see what special things we will see on the Olympic bike.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Marco Fontana

Fontana racing at Houffalize

Marco Fontana

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Team: Cannondale Factory Team
  • Best results: Olympics Beijing 2008 5th
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 7

He says: “The Olympics in Beijing in 2008 was the biggest experience in my life. The Olympics are something so big you can’t really describe. You have to go there and watch and be part of the whole thing to just imagine how it feels.

I always say that the Olympics are something that everybody can watch, that everybody will know about. You know, Italians in general, not people that do cycling or like cycling. You can become such an important person in Italy. This is a really good thing for me and for the sport because I can bring the sport to another level if I win the Olympics.

I have friends that say they are watching mountain biking instead of Formula One, which is crazy if you think about it. The London course is exactly like this. It is fast because you don’t have that much altitude meters up and down, but at the same time has these technical spots where you can show how good you are riding your bike, the skills of the riders. I think it will be one of the best shows we can have for our sport.

Nino Schurter has proved he can win every race, and I think the course suits him well. You can’t take Absalon out of the game because he won twice and he’s still impressively fast when he wants. But I really want to be one of the guys who is there for winning and not just part of the game.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Marco Fontana's Flash

Fontana's Flash

 

  • Bike: Cannondale Flash 29er Ultimate
  • Frame: High modulus carbon fibre
  • Fork: Cannondale Lefty 29er Carbon, 90mm travel, with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX/XO Type 2 derailleur, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Mavic SSC, 29in
  • Weight (approx): 18.5lbs

He says: “I have to say I am feeling really comfortable with my 29er. I think our sport is getting so close for the top spots, that switching bikes is never a good thing. If you have a look last year to the World Cup overall, the strongest guy, the fastest guy, was always the one that took a decision and kept on that bike. If you are not and if you’re your switching, the position is changing, everything is changing a little. I prefer to work a lot on tyres, fork set-up, wheel set-up and gear ratios. Then I’ll be ready for the race.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Moritz Milatz

Moritz Milatz

Moritz Milatz

  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: German
  • Team: BMC
  • Best results: 2009 World Cup Madrid 3rd
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 16

He says: “The Olympics are the most important race for me. They are only every four years, it’s only a selection of a few riders, and also, you feel that the whole world is watching you, not only those interested in cycling and mountain biking.

The course is really fast and you just have to be ready at the start to go fast and follow a fast group. It’s a very open area; there can be a lot of wind. It will be a special race.

I think Niño Schurter is a strong favourite, especially on this course. Also Julian Absalon; it’s also a good course for him. We will see.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Moritz Milatz BMC TE01

The BMC TE01

  • Bike: BMC Team Elite TE01 29
  • Frame: Carbon fibre
  • Fork: DT Swiss XMM-100, 100mm travel with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XR1450, 29in
  • Weight (approx): 23lbs

He says: “I prefer the 29er bike because it’s a fast course. I haven’t done many races on the 29er until now, but I think I will ride it because it’s a fast course with no sharp corners that you need to accelerate from. You can go high speed through all the lap, and the extra weight of the wheels is not that important.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Nino Schurter

Unless luck intervenes, Schurter will take home a medal

Nino Schurter

  • Age: 26
  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Team: Scott-Swisspower
  • Best results: Olympics Beijing 2008 3rd, World Championships 2009 Canberra 1st
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 1

He says: “Everything is focused on the Olympics for me. I have been doing less races than other years, so I really can focus.

The Olympics are a really special event every four years. If you have the chance to go to the Olympics and win a medal its the biggest dream for an athlete.

It’s a special course; all man made. It’s really fast with a lot of corners, short uphills and short downhills and it’s really nervous. But it’s a course that I like, it really suits me and I am looking forward to it.

Absalon is still one of the favourites. Jaroslav had a really great season last year and in Nove Mesto he showed is still in good shape. Then I would say Burry Stander as well. There are maybe ten riders who have the chance to win the race, so it’s quite open.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Nino Schurter 650b Scott

Schurter will also be aboard a 650b Scott

 

  • Bike: Scott Scale 650b(27.5in)
  • Frame: HMX net carbon fibre
  • Fork: DT Swiss XRC-100, 100mm travel with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX, 20-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XRC 950, 27.5in
  • Weight (approx): 19.5lbs

He says: “My Scott Scale 27.5in will suit the course in London. That was one of our main reasons why we developed it. You have a lot of narrow corners, so you really need a bike that has good handling around. But then you have a lot of fast sections, so the rolling conditions have to be great. It had to roll over some rocks. They have put in a lot of rocks and there you have an advantage with bigger wheels. I would say our 27.5in is the perfect bike. I wanted to really get used to that one bike.”

[poll id=”7″]