On his birthday, the eight-time World Champion gives his overview of the current Mountain Bike situation. “I love Italy, what a show in Milan versus Fontana. Can’t wait to return to the action
Thirty-four years, an incredible palmares and a voracious desire to keep on winning. After conquering eight World titles and one Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016, Nino Schurter cannot be easily taken over. Nevertheless, this year, even the Swiss champion had to deal with an unexpected opponent: the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It is an unprecedented juncture: everyone has to adapt, athletes included – explains Schurter (born on May 13th, 1986) from his home, in Tersnaus, in the Rumantsch-speaking area of Switzerland. “In Switzerland, there has been no proper lockdown, and I have managed to keep on training outdoors. I spent much more time home with my family during these uncertain times, and that has been a special treat for me, given my absence during the regular MTB season“.
However, Nino keeps on training for a future start, hoping to make up at least some races later this year. “I’m waiting for an updated calendar by the UCI, I honestly hope to race soon this year. During the latest weeks, I followed the pre-seasonal training schedule, usually planned for the month of February. Last week, I had a big endurance training summing up 30 hours of activity. My condition is good, and when the racing season starts, I’ll be ready“.
Internazionali d’Italia Series announced a few weeks ago its decision to postpone the 19th edition to 2021. Nino Schurter, third placed of the 2019 race in San Marino, leaves a door open to a return to the main Italian Cross-Country circuit next year. “I love to race in Italy. I am used to spend a lot of time in Massa Marittima, Tuscany, where my brother runs a Bike Academy. Plus, Tuscany is a great place for training. Among the Italian memories, the big battle with Marco Aurelio Fontana in Milan is one of the most significant. At the final sprint, I was a bit faster, making the victory a special one to me“. In addition, Schurter’s winning streak in the Val di Sole MTB World Cup event (2010, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018) has strengthened the connection between the Swiss rider and Italy.
Whether it will be this year, or the next one, Schurter looks destined to become one of those athletes able winning in three different decades. Across this period, Mountain Bike technologies have evolved considerably. “Suspensions were a game-changer: from hard-tail frames to fully suspended ones. Together with wheels and large tires, today we run tires with increased traction and little rolling resistance“.
One thing is certain: Schurter’s 2020 big goal is postponed to 2021. “My major goal was to defend the Olympic title in Tokyo, and the 2021 racing program will depend on the World Cup races before the OG“. An extra year of racing does not scare Nino Schurter: he will be ready, as usual.