DirtDaniel Hespeler


DirtDaniel Hespeler

Professional mountain bike team Cannondale Factory Racing, a UCI register ELITE Team, takes you behind the scenes at one of their three preseason camps in the heat of South Africa. Learn about the equipment, the new riders, the approach for the season and enjoy some real behind the scenes images of what happens when some of the worlds best riders prepare for 2017.

After a few months without travel it feels new and exciting to sit in an airport again with new goals in mind. Leaving behind a colder Europe the team flies to the warmer climates of South Africa, a new direction for the Cannondale Factory Racing XC approach in 2017. The team gathered already in December and January for two weeks, with another two weeks coming up in February. The team uses the time for quality training in the off-season, equipment testing, and planning the upcoming season.

Hello summer: Stellenbosch being in the Southern Hemisphere seasons are offset to Europe, and within an 11h flight and no time zone difference or change you land in summer. The Stellenbosch area, where the team sets up its camps is like paradise: wine, warm weather, and amazing trails. This coupled with the sports University and all sorts of training facilities in town, it creates the perfect surrounding.

The old and the new: Without exaggeration, 2017 could be something like a fresh start for CFR. Transitioning some long-term relationships, and starting new ones that will define a new direction for the team. Overthinking all our processes and ways of doing things and defining new approaches. Here are the new and some "old" faces of CFR.

Manuel Fumic, Helen Grobert, and current #3 in the world - Maxime Marotte form the core of the World Cup team. Missing in the pictures is Henrique Avancini who opted to miss the camp and train at home, preparing for the Absa Cape Epic. Hannah Grobert had to study for her exams forcing her to miss the camp too, but came to South Africa to support Helen, right after the camp was over.

Not just on the rider side, but also on the sponsor side there is a few changes to CFR for 2017. ENVE stepped-up their support for seatpost and handlebar, on top of supplying the best-in-class wheels. SRAM supplies the full XX1 Eagle drivetrain. Prologo, Schwalbe, Northwave, DT, RSP, 88+ The Headshock Clinic, RockShox, Quarq and Knaus motorhomes are long-term and proud partners.

The South African lifestyle is a nice balance to the hard and focused training. Good food and taking it easy is rooted deep in the culture of the Western Cape.

With a new year there is new equipment. Fresh bikes, fresh kit and a lot of time to test, adjust and play around with the new equipment. Spending time as a group early in the year leaves a lot of room to adjust the oh so important equipment.

Manuel Fumic: The German MTB star learned a lot in 2016, after what was probably the worst year of his career results wise.  A lot of things were questioned and a lot of changes were made for the season ahead. One of them was the move to train under CFR Performance Manager Phil Dixon. A fresh Mani has high goals for 2017 and works hard to reach those.

The Western Cape is a popular wine area and new teammates Manuel and Maxime found a common interest. Good wine. Lots of talk, and opportunities to try a glass or two in some of the best cellars in the world in between some of the best riding in the world. When you are missing the correct tool to open the bottle and the project becomes a team effort with creativity becomes the mantra to make good things happen.

With high goals in mind, there is a lots of things to plan. Phil Dixon and Team Manager Daniel Hespeler spent a lot of time discussing and creating a roadmap for the season. Hard interval sessions bring back memories of how it feels to race, which helps in the planning phase.

Helen and Hannah: A major change for 2017 is the addition of Helen and Hannah Grobert to CFR. A whole new era and a new motivation for everybody with Helen being the World Cup racer out of the two. Hannah is her partner in crime and took the challenge to support Helen along the way while completing her studies and race national events. It is important to have somebody you love and trust on your side, so bringing your sister along for the ride is a logical teammate.

Days off are a good chance to explore the beauty of the area of South Africa where team camp are being held. The Western Cape has a lot to offer and we will be back soon.

Featured Product