At the London 2012 Olympic mountain bike test event earlier this month, the first time the course had been raced on ahead of the big race next year, we trailed the top racers after the awards ceremony to scope out their race bikes.
Here’s a roundup of some of the fastest bikes.
Christoph Sauser’s Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper Carbon 29er
Christoph Sauser has the entire Specialized range at his disposal but his preference is the S-Works Stumpjumper Carbon 29er.
A FACT 10m carbon frame with all the modern touches; tapered head tube, curved seat tube to bring the rear axle as far forward as possible, 71.5 degree head angle and a sub-20lb all-up weight. Read more about his bike here a previous article here.
Catharine Prendel’s Orbea Alma Team
The women’s winner at the test event was Canadian Catharine Prendel. She’s another sponsored by Orbea and so used a similar Alma Team with 26in wheels just like Julien Absalon and Georgia Gould.
Jaroslav Kulhavy’s Specialized Epic 29er
He really needs no introduction. Jaroslav Kulhavy is the name to remember as the first rider to ride to World Cup glory aboard a 29er, and at the time of writing has just wrapped up the 2011 UCI World Cup series with one round remaining.
The Czech rider has been campaigning this season on the same Specialized Epic 29er, and is the bike he opted for at the Hadleigh Farm International fitted with a Fast Trak S-Works front tyre and a rear Renegade Control.
We asked Kulhavy about the course, and why he chose the Epic 29er: “As far as the track it is very much physically demanding. Compared to the video that is available, it is much more difficult, because the video was taken from the newly created rolled track dominated by the paths with the put soil and send. There were bigger stones in the stored up track and when it started to rain, it tracked out and the stones appeared on the surface. That´s why the track is now quite challenging and sliding compared to the new one.
“That was the main reason why I decided to choose the Specialized 29 “Epic, even though I had decided before leaving for the race that I would go on hard bike 29” HT. I think that in a year the track will pass more changes and generally will be more broken.”
Georgia Gould’s Orbea Alma carbon hardtail
US cyclist Georgia Gould uses the same Orbea Alma carbon hardtail that Julien Absalon picked for the demanding Essex course, though she opted for 26in wheels – she has been spotted racing on a 29er recently.
Julien Absalon’s Orbea
Two-time Olympic mountain bike champion Julien Absalon is one of the most consistently successful racers on the cross-country circuit and the Frenchman has a long relationship with Orbea, his bike supplier for the last few years. Read our full report on his bike here.
Images: Joolze Dymond, www.joolzedymond.com