Sina Frei, Gerhard Kerschbaumer & Laura Stigger Join Jordan Sarrou on Specialized Factory Racing

Jan 8, 2021
by Sarah Moore  
Photos by Michael Cerveny


We found out that Jordan Sarrou had signed with Specialized Racing on January 1st, and today we find out that he will be joined by Sina Frei, Gerhard Kerschbaumer and Laura Stigger on Specialized Racing in 2021 as Simon Andreassen and Alan Hatherly join Cannondale Factory Racing.

bigquotesSpecialized has a rich history in XCO MTB which include an Olympic gold medal, numerous world titles and countless World Cup victories. In 2021, we are delighted to announce a new team with riders who we believe will lead us to even more success. One of our goals is 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.Specialized Bicycles


Gerhard Kerschbaumer
Sina Frei

Jordan Sarrou
Laura Stigger

Jordan Sarrou is the 2020 UCI MTB World Champion and joins Specialized on a multi-year partnership. The 28-year-old Frenchman said he has ridden Specialized bikes from a young age and expressed great excitement in joining the factory team.

bigquotesIt’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. 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.Jordan Sarrou



bigquotesSpecialized 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.Brian Gordon, MTB product manager


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.


bigquotesI 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.Gerhard Kerschbaumer


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.

bigquotesI 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.Benno Willeit


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.

bigquotesIt 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.Sina Frei

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.


bigquotesI 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 Stigger

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.


47 Comments

  • 26 0
 Specialized getting strategic with their PB Fantasy League picks
  • 14 0
 Without disrespecting her teammates, I would put my entire fantasy budget on Laura Stigger.
  • 2 0
 @dolores: Looking forward to seeing more of this young rider. Do you think she'll bump up to the Elites full time? Other than the World Champs of course. She's only 20 so she has to race in the U23 there.
  • 2 0
 @Augustus-G: she already raced elite WCs so there is no going back now.
  • 3 0
 Hi @Augustus-G, Austria only has one place available for the Olympics. Elisabeth Osl (not sure if she retired), Laura Stigger and Lisa Pasteiner need the points to increase their chances of being on the Olympic team, so I have no doubt that Laura Stigger will be in the elite category.
  • 1 0
 @dolores: Good point!
  • 1 0
 @prevail: Apparently there is an exception this year on the Road side of the house. Don't know if it extends to the MTB side. Considering what Dolores posted I doubt it will become a factor.
  • 9 0
 Looking like it's going to be a very interesting year ahead for Big Red S fans. I'm still going to miss Annika. Such a class act. Now, let's hope we get more races in this year.
  • 4 0
 amen to that. Annika is the best. What an amazing rider and role model as a person.
  • 1 0
 Annika was a beast. Untouchable at her best.
  • 7 0
 Aaaand there's the answer to "what the hell is happening at Specialized?"

Kerschi and Sarrou are very, very, good, but trading two young phenoms for late/mid career guys seems like a small step backwards...

But on the women's side Stigger and Frei is a pretty kickass duo.
  • 1 0
 Sarrou is young isn't he. I don't see Kersh learning from Sarrou.
  • 1 0
 @Madfella: 28 ain’t that young for a pro athlete.
  • 1 0
 @nattyd: Late twenties seems like prime career stage for many pro riders in different disciplines. In Sarrou and Kerschbaumer they have a couple of excellent riders who are poised to deliver top results today. The women's side with Frei and Stigger seems more focused on the development side, as riders who are knocking on the top tier for potential wins, but probably not quite there yet. Seems like a healthy balance across the team.
  • 1 0
 @Ginsu2000: I don't disagree with anything you said, and they certainly did get younger on the women's side. But, my point is that a rider who is 23 and who has won a top tier race in his first try is strictly more valuable than a 28 or 29 year old who has won the same number of premier races in half a career.
  • 1 0
 @nattyd: My turn to agree with you. There's more career potential in a 23 year-old rider who has already demonstrated the ability to finish on, or even on top of, a world cup podium than there is in a rider aged 28 or 29 with only a handful of top results (Sarrou's impressive world championship notwithstanding). I suppose the way I look at it is that the concept of long term 2-way allegiance between riders and a specific team seem to be shifting toward an emphasis on what benefits will each side receive during the next 2-year contract period. Under that model, there's less reason to think of riders as a development project (that may only be serving the next team they move on to) and more about which riders can deliver the best results:cost ratio over the contract period. In other words, even though we may agree there's more projected value in the remaining career of a 23 year-old high performer, that value is now more likely to be spread across multiple teams. It's all about short term gratification for both sides in the 2-year contract. That's kind of sad to me, since I liked the concept of a rider and team forming a career long relationship.
  • 1 0
 @Ginsu2000: Yep, makes sense. My old conventional wisdom is that regardless of the length of a contract, a rider under contract is much more likely to stay with the team when it expires, given the activation energy to make a switch (unknown bike, unknown team culture, new location, etc.). The chances of re-signing probably go up if there has been success during that contract period. But, it seems like moves between teams are increasingly common, so maybe the narrow view of the contract period should dominate the assessment.
  • 7 0
 This explains Alan and Simon moving on. This is another strong team that has podium, and victory, potential in both men's and women's XCO.
  • 2 0
 These moves are dope in my opinion. Sarrou and Kershbaumer should be race win or podium contenders for the rest of their contracts and they now have two talented young women to build around long-term. I am looking forward to the season even more now. Add to that the signing of Cody Kelly on the enduro side and I like what Specialized is doing.
  • 1 0
 These moves are dope in my opinion. Sarrou and Kerschbaumer should be consistent podium or race win contenders for the remainder of their contracts and you have two talented young female riders to build around long-term. I am looking forward to the season even more now.
  • 3 2
 So Stellenbosch is mentioned 3 times in this article without any reference to where in the world Stellenbosch is or where these pictures were taken.... I know where it is, but what about everyone else?
  • 2 0
 @Acid11 Google is their friend too!!! Smile
  • 2 3
 @Augustus-G: Google? Seems like an easy excuse when you've cut corners in your article and haven't provided the needed, relevant information so you then expect the reader to go and do the work you should have done in the first place. got it....
  • 5 0
 You obviously dont drink enough wine and/or watch enough XC racing.
  • 2 2
 @paulskibum: True!! but I did grow up near Stellenbosch and just thought it might be of value to the article and readers for them to mention it, you know, for all those other people who also don't drink enough wine....
  • 5 1
 Are you the North American that is the reason why all US films say "London, England" whenever a scene is set in London?
  • 2 1
 @lukeb: if it's London, it must be London, Arkansas (HAHAHAHAHAHA)

Or, London, Ontario for us Canadians
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: In vino veritas!
  • 1 0
 @lukeb: for dramatic effect. Once you see the generic London eye and bridge shot you already know lol.
  • 2 0
 @Acid11 Slow day at the internet copy-editing desk? We commend your ability to assist less geographically-inclined individuals with your superior knowledge...
  • 2 0
 Stellenbosch is in the Cape Winelands of the Western Cape (a province) in South Africa. The photos are a mix from trails around the World Cup course from 2018 (Stellenbosch), but mostly from the iconic "G-Spot" trail (just above my house Wink )
  • 1 1
 Stellenbosch is in South Africa, near Cape Town, where they have held UCI WC rounds before. Many of the XC teams come here for training and team camps this time of year as the weather is ideal and it leads into the Cape Epic
  • 1 0
 A lot of people know where Stellenbosch.
  • 1 0
 @lukeb: It’s nice to see that it’s a Canadian for once. Usually it’s the Stars and Stripes flag for stuff like this. But yeah, I know where both Stellenbosch and London are.
  • 4 0
 What a team!!!
  • 3 0
 Where is Gerhard looking? Wink
  • 2 0
 Specialized and Santa Cruz are going to be going at it this year! Can't wait!
  • 1 0
 Hopp Schwiiz!!! Great to see Sina Frei on the team.
  • 1 0
 Promo shots in sunny SA by the look of it!
  • 2 2
 No Blevins, boo. That kid shreeeeeds.
  • 8 0
 Blevins went to Trinity so he can follow the MvDP, Wout, Pidcock model and have support in multiple disciplines.
  • 1 0
 He'll still be on a Specialized....just for another team....
  • 2 0
 I just don't think Blevins was dedicated enough to push himself to be the best he could be. He has lots of other interests in life, which isn't a bad thing. But it might keep him from being the best XCO racer he could be. To be one of the best at XCO, you gotta put in the boring hours on the bike and well as the VO2max intervals to build the engine. Without a doubt though, he has plenty skills!
  • 1 1
 Signing for the team with the best lawyers must be great
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