Cross country mountain bike world champ gets green light from UCI to race road
After winning three cross country world championships and three World Cup titles in only five years, Nino Schurter (Scott Odlo) is temporarily looking for a new challenge in 2014. The Swiss mountain bike star will race part-time on the road for Orica-GreenEdge and will compete in both the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse.
Schurter will team up with Orica GreenEdge because the squad is also sponsored by Scott, which backs his mountain bike team. He got the idea to do the road races awhile ago, but he had to wait for approval from both the UCI and Swiss Cycling, which he eventually got.
"To do the Tour de Suisse once in my life has always been my dream," said Schurter. "My heart is in mountain biking and will remain there. But if I ever wanted to ride a big stage race on the road, the 2014 season offers the perfect slot for it.
"To defend my world championship title is still going to be my main goal for 2014, and furthermore I will 100% concentrate on mountain biking to hopefully add a missing Olympic [gold] medal to my collection. I believe that on my way there, I can gain a lot of knowledge and experience from racing on the road with Orica-GreenEdge this year."
Scott-Odlo Team Manager Thomas Frischknecht said, "Nino has always been looking for new ways to develop his skills. He is searching for improvements all the time - the opposite of a copy-paste athlete. That's him and that's why he is so good at what he is doing. I respect him for these characteristics and therefore support him with this idea. I'm pretty sure this experience will only make him stronger."
Shayne Bannan, general manager of Orica-GreenEdge was pleased about his guest rider. "It's a really exciting project getting Nino on the road with us. He's an extremely accomplished athlete and we look forward to seeing how he will perform on a road team on home soil."
Before Schurter makes his WorldTour road debut in June, he will race the 2014 Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, which is like the Tour de France of mountain bike races. He'll be teaming up with South African rider Philip Buys.
Buys, also a Scott-sponsored athlete, won the Cape Epic "Best African team" classification in 2013. On paper, he and Schurter look like a promising team for stage wins and like contenders for the overall classification.
Following the Cape Epic, Schurter will stick around South Africa for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season opener in Pietermaritzburg, where he won the mountain bike Worlds last year.
In order to race the Tour de Romandie, he will skip the second UCI Mountain Bike World Cup stop in Cairns, Australia. That World Cup round and the European Championships are the only big mountain bike races Schurter will miss for his road racing plans.
Following the Tour of Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, it will be business as usual for Schurter on his mountain bike.