Electronic Suspension Wins Again & More Things We Learned from the Lenzerheide XC World Cup 2023

Jun 12, 2023 at 7:14
by Ed Spratt  
The Specialized team mates lead the way off the line.

Carrying on from the incredible racing at the season opener in Nove Mesto the second round of the year in Leznerheide delivered plenty of moments to get excited about. From fresh tech winning gold medals again to struggling World Champions, the Swiss course was both cruel and kind to riders hoping for World Cup glory. As the teams and riders pack up their kit and try to get prepped for another weekend of racing in Austria we take a look at some of the stories we spotted in Lenzerheide.

Electronic Suspension Takes A Second Elite XCO Win in 2023

While electronic suspension seems to have come and gone in Enduro racing, it is starting to gain traction in XC. Following Tom Pidcock riding electronically controlled suspension to an Olympic gold medal, the British racer has continued to see success with this system including a win at round one in Nove Mesto. This past weekend in Lenzerheide Nino Schurter appears to have joined Pidcock as we spotted the World Champ running a SID fork with RockShox's Flight Attendant system. How much these systems actually played in securing the wins for these riders is not clear and giving fresh tech to some of the World's best racers will always increase the chances of a win. It will be interesting to watch if these systems become mainstream and are used by the whole XC field or if they disappear similar to the setups we previously saw from Enduro racers.
Nino is running Rockshoxs new flight attendant equipped fork.

Loana Lecomte Become Only Elite Woman to Win Back-to-Back at Lenzerheide

Another record achieved this weekend in Lenzerheide was Loana Lecomte becoming the first Elite Woman to take the XCO win in consecutive years. Previously Jenny Rissveds was the only Elite Woman to win more than once in Lenzerheide as she took the victory here in 2016 and in 19, Nino Schurter remains the only Elite Male rider to do this. With her win on Sunday Loana now joins this exclusive club of multiple Lenzerheide winners after her impressive show of strength. Sadly with no Lenzerheide round coming up for the next two years at least, Loana won't be able to challenge Nino's triple wins from 2016-2018. Although if Loana is after a triple victory she will be carrying great confidence into Leogang where she has taken the top spot for the past two years.
Loana Lecomte leading out compatriot Pauline Ferrand Prevot.

Another Swing & a Miss for Pauline Ferrand Prevot

After a slow start to the 2022 season, Pauline Ferrand Prevot ended the year in spectacular fashion as she secured not one but four rainbow jerseys across XCC, XCO, XC Marathon and even gravel. The off-season also brought some big changes as the multiple World Champ headed to Ineos to ride alongside teammate Tom Pidcock. Coming into 2023 it was hard to bet against Pauline Ferrand Prevot. So far the promise of a winning performance is yet to pay off as at both races the French racer has fallen just short of the win against last-lap attacks from Puck Pieterse and Loana Lecomte. While Puck Pieterse could only find five seconds on Pauline Ferrand Prevot, the implosion caused by her attempt to match Loana Lecomte's prowess at Lenzerheide sent her almost forty seconds back. As we head into the next round at Leogang, Pauline Ferrand Prevot will want to pick up some of the winning speed she held last year. Even more so if she wants to carry some confidence into a very important home Olympics in Paris next year.
Absolutely gassed Pauline almost ran away with it.

Nino Schurter Finally Breaks the Win Record

No story in Lenzerheide beats the perfect moment of strength, determination and unmatched skill as Nino Schurter finally having his 34th World Cup win. Heading into 2023 there is not a lot left for Nino Schurter to achieve in XC racing as only the total win record hanged over his head. Nino Schurter equalled Julien Absalon's record of 33 wins at last year's Petrópolis World Cup.

While Nino Schurter couldn't quite get to the front of the race at Nove Mesto crossing the line in third, the fairytale ending of achieving such an incredible total of wins at his home race will have made it all the sweeter. Not only did his ride in Lenzerheide break records, Nino Schhurter also stamped his authority over the Elite Men's XC field playing an excellent tactical game to roll across the line 15 seconds up after a fairly relaxed (for a race) final lap. Of course, while the record has been broken we still have plenty more races this year, could we see Nino Schurter go even higher than 34?

What a moment.

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edspratt avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2017
2,851 articles

  • 62 0
 If you would give the great electronic suspension to the everyone except the current top10 riders, would it still win?
  • 37 5
 its like the "flat pedals wins medals", ignoring all the results made with clipless. Its usually the rider not the gear.
  • 21 0
 @t-stoff: I never thought anyone actually believed flat pedals win medals. It was what we flat pedal riders said to ourselves to justify our choice. Sam Hill made it possible to say, but only he makes it actually work.
  • 43 0
 I could have electronic suspension and a motor and Nino would still beat me
  • 28 0

Not sure if anyone else saw it but Lopes ran his eBike against one of Sep Kuss' (one of the top climbers in the world) KOMs in Colorado. Even in Turbo he didn't beat the KOM that Sep laid down. Pretty insane.
  • 3 2
 @salespunk: He must have been on a MTB? The difference between a 'good' amateur athlete and a top pro is less than 100W in most cases, pound for pound, with Lopes being heavier and on a heavier bike I would have thought the 250W+ an ebike puts out would more than make up the difference, but if he was on a nobby tired MTB that could slow him down a lot more.
  • 4 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Lopes knows how to pedal a bike. I remember seeing videos way back when of him handling the field at a local CX race quite comfortably. 50-year-old Lopes with his relatively bulky body versus featherweight Sep Kuss in the prime of his career as a pro tour roadie, going h2h on a sustained climb though? Everything tips way, way in favour of Kuss. I'm not surprised he was able to make up the 250w from an e-bike, depending on the duration of the climb. If the climb was only a few minutes, the power gap is likely to be larger in absolute watts than the 100 you suggest. The longer the climb, the lower the spread in absolute watts, even if it's similar in the % discrepancy.
  • 2 0
 @Ginsu2000: he's a beast and way above average!

We can approximate it though with real data, a top level climber like Sep is pushing ~6w/kg (ish).

Assuming Lopes is 170 lbs and say his bike weighs 15 lbs more than a typical road bike his total weight + added bike weight is 185 lbs or 84kg.

I say he could conservatively pump out a climb at 300 - 350w, lets say 300w from legs + 250w from bike (both on low side) that is 550w.

550/84 = 6.5w/kg

On a MTB - that changes things due to rolling resistance.
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: What I'm saying is that the numbers you are using above are FTP i.e. 1 hr. If the KOM is only a 10-minute climb, the absolute gap in watts that Kuss can pull is likely to be noticeably higher, seemingly more than 250w in this case.
  • 2 0
 @Ginsu2000: @RadBartTaylor it was about a 10 minute singletrack climb. Lopes thought he would take it easily on the eBike and then got to the top and realized that he was way behind Sepp's KOM. He then did another attempt where he went all out, but from what I remember he was still a few seconds behind.

Even if he did get it by a few seconds the fact that a then mid 40's pro MTB rider that was winning short track UCI events at the time (anyone remember when Lopes won those first few events and UCI changed the rules to stop him?) can barely keep up on an eBike vs a pro climber is just insane. I tried finding the video, but unfortunately it didn't come up with my searches.

BTW Sepp publishes is power output most days and it is crazy to look at. On Stage 9 of the Giro the final climb was 28 miles and 5.7K of vertical. Without pushing he averaged 255w over 1h40m and 17 mph going uphill at the end of a 140 mile day with 13K of vertical 9 days into a grand tour. Mind blown...

  • 1 0
 @salespunk: Lopes won the UCI XCE (X-Country Eliminator), which is a lot closer to an extended BMX race on mountain bikes than it is to a 20-minute XCC short track race as we currently know it. Very short at 1-2 minutes, no real climbing to speak of, and pedalling all in mostly a few shorter bursts. Tailor-made for someone like Lopes. Even at his best fitness, I highly doubt he would have ever gotten so much as a sniff if they had World Cup XCC at that time.
  • 20 2
 My acoustic suspension just sounds better...
  • 9 7
 You're sure? It is nowhere near as much rock and roll. If you want to do it properly, ride your race. Then after the finish line, smash it to pieces, jam it into your wheels, maybe set it on fire if you're feeling inspired. Yes you may never have seen this in the era of acoustic suspension and you might say it is bad to destroy a perfectly fine piece of gear but this is the new school yo. Embrace it or stay hopelessly behind. A few decades from now, those "relic'd" and unrideable suspension components will be worth many times their original value (even when compensated for inflation). And kids will have these posters hanging in their rooms of Loana smashing her bike after a happy and successful race. We're only at the start of electronic suspension. It will take a few decades to see a reappreciation of unplugged suspension. You can't say you're ahead of the time. I can tell from experience. I didn't have a cd player in the 90s and early 00s, only playing vinyl and cassette tapes. People didn't believe me when I told them back in the days that I was actually ahead of the time. Similarly, you can't be taken seriously if you're still riding unplugged.
  • 4 0
 @vinay: Don‘t forget to charge it.
  • 16 0
 Exactly, ‘electric suspension’ is only winning because those with the biggest budget have it!
  • 7 19
flag konastab01 (Jun 13, 2023 at 5:19) (Below Threshold)
 MTB isnt that expensive, so most folk racing are on similar stuff now.
  • 11 2
 @konastab01: IDK what mountain biking you're doing, but the mountain biking I know and love is expensive as
  • 8 0
 From the article, "Heading into 2023 there is not a lot left for Nino Schurter to achieve in XC racing as only the total win record hanged over his head."

Nino has only 1 Olympic gold medal hanging over his head and neck, compared to Absalon's 2.
  • 1 0
 Yea, thats what i'm thinking. Probably going to be his last goal before he retires
  • 2 0
 Guess he can easily cover this gap with the three additional WC overall gold medals that he has compared to Absalon Wink
  • 2 0
 @paulpimml: Don't get too worried here. There's no question Nino's career accomplishments are superior to Absalon's. However, the article stating there's no records of Absalon that Nino has broken now isn't quite true. Having 2 Olympic golds in MTB is a pretty important accomplishment all by itself.
  • 6 0
 I bought a pair of Nino's old shoes many many years ago, still wear them to spin class, they have not made me go any faster but boy does it feel good wearing the shoes of the best XC'er of all time. Ninos old training videos for balance under fatigue are still ahead of their time even in 2023 when you look at how other gravity disciplines train. He's some boy for one boy... legend.
  • 8 0
 And the fittest athletes.
  • 2 0
 if nino was still winning on 27.5s, would we be pushing that too?
  • 2 0
 Yes, I'm sure electronic suspension was the deciding factor.
  • 1 0
 Schurter said this was probably his last race in Lenzerheide.
  • 9 0
 These guys said it too "Last time here"
Looks like xco is moving away from Lenzerheide next year, not Nino?!
  • 8 0
 The World Cup does not come back to Lenzerheide untill three seasons from now.
  • 1 0
 @NERyder: Anyone know why ?
  • 3 2
 Nino would have won on a rigid…

Single speed…
  • 1 0
 Looking for sex without commitmentwrite to me ➤ u.to/mWPGHw
  • 1 2
 Nino not using the new shifters? I wonder how much Nino and the team actually contribute to the development …
  • 1 5
flag vinay (Jun 13, 2023 at 2:18) (Below Threshold)
 Is Nino only 34? That's only a little kid compared to Greg Minnaar. I see no reason why Nino could at least be competitive until that age. Until which age was Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå competitive? If I recall correctly, that was until well beyond 40.
  • 5 0
 @vinay: Whoever told you he's 34 was wrong; he's 37.
  • 2 1
 @boozed: Ah sorry, I misread that in the article. I read it as whether he could compete beyond the age of 34, but it is just whether he can get more wins than 34. My bad. Still, Gunn-Rita and Greg Minnaar have been winning well beyond his age so I suppose Nino should be able to do that as well.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: All good, and I agree!
  • 2 0
 I've read some people prefer the ergonomics and clickiness of the gen 1 AXS rocker switch over the gen 2 AXS pod's buttons
  • 2 0
 According to my friend(s) at SRAM. Nino was the reason for the original AXS shifter paddle design, that most didn't seem to care for. I know I didn't. The optional paddle that came out after was much better IMO. Makes sense he wants to use the design he preferred. Not a fan of the new shifter either.
  • 9 0
 @vinay: it’s much harder to maintain the style of fitness needed to be competitive in xc than dh. It’s usually an injury that moves people away from dh, but not being able to recover from aerobic training that moves you away from xc, incredible he’s still at the stop the last few years
  • 3 1
 @thisspock: Ah I see. I always thought it is harder to maintain the explosive qualities that these short runs require whereas one usually get better at the endurance end when people become older. Then again of course there still is marathon XC racing (XCM) where we're still seeing people compete who've long retired from the regular XCO competition. Either way, aside from Greg Minnaar I also mentioned Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå who has been competitive in XCO until well after she turned 40, if I recall correctly.
  • 1 0
 Some people, like Nino, prefer the first shifter because you can shift up and down without lifting your thumb between different buttons, which is one less thing to think about/to do when racing
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