Specialized has a rich history in XCO MTB which include an Olympic gold medal, numerous world titles and countless World Cup victories. For 2021, they are delighted to announce a new team with riders who they believe will lead them to even more success. One of their goals are to invest and keep devoloping young talents like Sina Frei and Laura Stigger in a competitive environment while defending World Championship stripes and chasing world cup victories with Jordan Sarrou and Gerhard Kerschbaumer.
Jordan Sarrou is the 2020 UCI MTB World Champion and joins Specialized on a multi-year partnership. The 28-year-old Frenchman has enjoyed riding Specialized bikes from a young age and expressed great excitement in joining the factory team – “It’s a big motivation for me and I’m very excited to ride for Specialized; they are the best brand for mountain biking and cycling, so it’s a huge excitement for me to join the family now.”
Winning the world title in 2020 was a dream for Jordan. In 2021 he has even bigger dreams of competing in the Olympic games and defending his world title – _“Firstly, my goal is to be at the start at the Tokyo Olympic Games, then to defend my world title and be on top for the World Cup races.”_
Brian Gordon, MTB product manager in Morgan Hill, California is excited to work with the new team of riders. _“Specialized Factory Racing is and has always been an integral part of product development at Specialized. There is no doubt that the energy and excitement around the
2021 team roster will motivate and inspire us to push the limits of product innovation in every aspect.” _The close tie between the race team and product team at Specialized has been paramount in building the legacy of Specialized Factory Racing and the Epic platform. The 2021 program will only see this tie grow stronger, pushing product design further into the future.
Alongside Sarrou, Specialized have signed former Italian National Champion, Gerhard Kerschbaumer. ‘Geri’ as his team mates call him has set his sights on the 2021 World Title which will be contested in his home country, Val Di Sole, Italy. Apart from chasing the rainbow stripes, Kerschbaumer will focus on the World Cup series and an Olympic medal – _“I have enjoyed my short time with the team. We are set up here at our first team camp and things are going very well. I come from a very small setup and having all of this support is very exciting for me. I never had a soigneur or a personal mechanic before and I need to get used to having access to all of this new information and product. I can learn a lot from Jordan who is the world champion and I look forward to 2021 with the team.”_
Benno Willeit who has been with the global race team for more than 10 years makes a return to the Specialized Factory racing team as program manager. Willeit has spent the last few years pioneering the E-bike racing category for Specialized and his wealth of knowledge and experience on the world cup circuit will be invaluable to the team’s future success – _“I spent the last few years with the E-bike and Enduro teams. It is great to be back with the XCO team, it is where I started my career and super happy to be here in Stellenbosch with our team. We have 3 riders who are new to the brand and it has been very educational for everyone to get a Retül fit and learn more about the equipment that they will be using for 2021 and beyond. The goal of this team camp is to get to know everyone intimately, but also generate content for our sponsors and riders. So far we are having a great time together and I am excited for the years ahead.”_
Sina Frei has an impressive résumé which includes U/23 World Champion,
U/23 European Champion, Swiss Champion and at 23, she is undoubtedly one of the women to look out for in the Elite category. Frei joins Specialized on a multi-year partnership and is excited to get back to racing – “_It is really exciting to join Specialized. I am already enjoying the team environment and it is such a great group of people to be a part of, everything is very professional”._
Joining her teammates on the S-Works Epic for the first time, Sina has been impressed with the setup of her new bike and the Retül fit process – _“From the first time I was on the bike, it has been super comfortable. Riding here in Stellenbosch, the bike is smooth and very precise in handling. I also had a Retül fit for the first time ever and the data is really interesting. I enjoy seeing the numbers and already, we have made a few tweaks which have improved my position on the bike.”_
Another talented rider who has been supported by Specialized, but now makes the step up to the factory racing team is Austrian, Laura Stigger.
While she could still race in the U/23 Category, the 20 year old Stigger made the decision to race in the Elite women’s category and has already made huge impressions on the mountain biking community.
_“I am very comfortable in this group. It is nice to get to know everyone better and I am excited to spend the next few years with this group of people. It is my first time in Stellenbosch and it is a big change from the Cross Country skiing that I have been doing back home in Austria. The riding, the food, the people are all awesome and I am very happy to be here.”_
Laura has big goals for the 2021 season including a World Championship medal and podiums at the XCO World Cups.
The Specialized Factory Racing Team will focus on the UCI MTB XCO World Cup season including the Olympic games, Sea Otter Classic, Specialized market activations and National Championships. The team is proud to be supported by SRAM, Rockshox, Wahoo, Cliff, HT Components, Retül, Roval, Motrex and Supacaz.
Source: Specialized Bicycles