Welcome to Episode #3 of #Whatsbehind, a series of photostories bringing you behind the scenes of Professional XCO Mountainbike Team Cannondale Factory Racing (CFR). This Epsiode follows the team over the course of three weeks in the first part of the 2017 XC season, starting in England, travelling to Nové Město in the Czech Republic, and finishing the trip off in Albstadt. The 2017 journey, and with that the preparation, for the team began back in December of 2016 in South Africa, where the team traveled to for the best possible climate and MTB terrain in the world. EP #1 showed the team in at training camp, setting the foundation for what you see here in EP #3. In early May, Helen Grobert, Maxime Marotte and Manuel Fumic headed to London and set their camp up in Hadleigh, at the 2012 Olympic venue, which has become one of the best trail centers in the UK. A good playground for some final equipment testing and the final touches on the fitness needed to be in the race as they head into the first World Cup in Nové Město and straight after over to Albstadt/Germany. Episode #3 not only shows the best images from the UK camp and first WC races, it also shows some of the key factors needed to be one of the best MTB XCO teams in the World. Enjoy the images by Michele Mondini.
Hadleigh Park, located close to the sea and east of London, a little town now famous for being the Olympic MTB Centre back in 2012 for the London Olympic Games. The Olympic track has been transformed into a trail center where people can ride on the Olympic course and other purpose built XC trails at the training center to get a flavor of XCO race courses. CFR chose the location for final preparations leading into the World Cups, and as a team, one more time test race equipment to be sure about the choices to be made once World Cup #1 comes around. The camp in Hadleigh finished off with an HC race, which Maxime Marotte won, Manuel Fumic finished in 3rd, and Helen Grobert came home in 5th. A good test for the big ones ahead.
The Team. Moutainbike XCO racing is an individual sport, where you race for individual goals, but the team is needed for a critical support structure and help the athletes to perform at their best. Long days and many late nights are often on the schedule throughout the season, and the people behind the scenes deserve a ton of credit and a lot of respect. CFR is composed of a Team Manager, A Sportive Director, 2 Physios, 1 Lead mechanic and 1 Mechanic support, 1 Suspension technician, 1 Chef, 1 Truck driver and usually 1 or 2 additional support crew per event when it comes to racing on the World Cup circuit.
Determination. To succeed at the highest level of the sport it takes a lot of determination. Lofty goals, pressure, loads of training and the normal daily routine life throws at you make it a tough job. Athletes are a special kind of people and everything is focused on one point: The start gun of World Cup #1.
Fun. A crucial part of life and a crucial part of sport. What athletes do and what staff goes through is hard enough, so why not enjoy while you can.
Tech. Modern MTB XCO racing has become a complex mission. Hardtails, full suspension, dropper posts, different wheels and tires for different terrain, and all this combined with the stress of racing with no technical/equipment failures while doing so is the job of the tech crew. Usually the first ones up and at work in the morning and the last ones at night to lay down are the mechanics, so a good cup of coffee always helps. And the tech crew always have the right tools on hand, even when it’s time to be creative when the bottle opener is missing you still need to get the job done!
Performance vs. Passion. Everything is pushed to the limit in modern sport, and the finer details of performance has become more-and-more important. A very scientific approach in training, psychology and recovery is the critical base to do well. The real difference on top of all this is found through the passion of each individual on the team. Athletes need to live a certain way of life, and so does the support crew. One big component of this life is the passion for bikes and the desire to compete.
Nové Město na Moravě. World Cup #1. Crowned the best World Cup Event in the last 5 years, the venue in Nové Město delivers. A venue specifically built for Biathlon and XC skiing in Winter, it offers everything an XCO MTB destination needs to hold a successful events. 25,000 spectators lining the course speak a language of racing, and the noise they make is unbelievable.Nové Město was a success for the team with Maxime Marotte finishing 4th after a massive crash in lap 1 and Manuel Fumic finishing in 12th. Helen Grobert delivered her 2nd best career WC result, and proves she is one to count on for the future, with a 7th place and just seconds off the podium. Cannondale Factory Racing leaves Nové Město and heads towards Albstadt where in just a weeks’ time the 2nd round of the World Cup will start.
Fans. Cycling is booming and thousands of people come to watch their heroes race the UCI MTB XCO World Cup series across the globe. The teams open their doors in the team area for fans to come in, feel the vibe and get up-close with the athletes. There are few sports where you can interact and be with your heroes so close and personal as bike racing. Manuel Fumic is a fan favorite, wherever he goes. In Albstadt, close to his home, he is a superstar and he spent some extra time with the local kids, racing their bikes.
Lifestyle. What would life be without some style. Style does not have a definition, so enjoy some of our favorite examples of the CFR style.
Albstadt. Albstadt in Germany is a small little town between the fields and the forests. It is only 80km from the CFR team base and therefore counts as the our home race. Manuel Fumic is the local hero, and thousands of people come just to see him race. With a clear plan and high ambitions, the team tackled the Albstadt week. The weather once more delivered and we found ourselves in 30 degrees and blue skies. Maxime repeated his podium performances finishing 5th on the climbing intensive course, and for most of the race long followed by his teammate Mani, until he flatted on the last lap pushing him back to 9th. Helen had a first row start for the first time in her career in the Elite ranks, but just did not have the day she needed. A big crash and a mechanical resulted in taking her out of the team's home race. The form and fitness are there, the luck will come. Thank You Albstadt and Cu next year, and the year after, and the year after for Worlds in 2020.
Celebration. The moment when you realize you achieved something big. The moment when you feel all the stress falls off your shoulders. The moment when you are exhausted, but all you really want to do is celebrate what you just accomplished. This is the moment we capture here. Time to celebrate, then refocus and come back even stronger for rounds three and four of the UCI MTB XCO World Cups in Andorra and Lenzerheide. Stay tuned for the next episode of #WhatsBehind with CFR.