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Sauser Races to Top Five Finish at Muddy Marathon Worlds

Discussion in 'Specialized' started by I-am-Specialized, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. I-am-Specialized

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    <p>Specialized Racing's Christoph Sauser finished in the top five at the UCI Marathon World Championships in Ornans, France, on Sunday, when he crossed the line in fourth position at the end of an epic day of racing. Wet weather conditions made for an extremely difficult, 84km day in the saddle.</p><p>
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    "The conditions were absolutely miserable. I never have done a marathon that was so muddy," said Sauser, who had been hoping to defend his marathon world championship title from 2011. Rain had rolled in the night before the race, and what had been summer-like conditions abruptly turned wet and raw.</p><p>
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    "It was a very special race today with these conditions. The problem is that you start riding against the conditions and not against your competitors, which I don't like," said Sauser. "The visibility was really bad. I couldn't ride with glasses and now my eyes are hurting very much."</p><p>
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    After studying the sub-optimal forecast, Sauser decided on the eve of the championships to race his Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper Hardtail 29er with custom Rock Shox SID World Cup 29 Brain featuring inertia valve damper, solo air spring, top mount Brain-Fade and 100mm of travel.</p><p>
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    "I picked which bike based on the conditions. I knew that if the rain would stop, which it did, it would get really mucky. I went with my Specialized Stumpjumper hardtail because it has more mud clearance and also when it's slippery, you have to carry your bike a lot, so the advantage of a full suspension shrinks big time."</p><p>
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    "If it had been fully dry, it would have been hard to decide between the hardtail and the full suspension. Normally, at the end of the day, you have had so much more fun on a full suspension, but this is world champs and for that one day - those four hours - it is not about fun or recovery. It's the results that matter. You are so concentrated that you go fast over stuff - you don't feel the bumps that much."</p><p>
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    The race started well, but it was excessively muddy. "At the beginning, it was flat for the first 5km. The mud puddles were incredible. There was water splashing all over. Going into the first climb, I felt in control and was always riding in second or third position. I was good on the downhills."</p><p>
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    Sauser deployed his own strategy for dealing with the mud. "I rode through every water puddle I could to clean the bike again. In every feed zone, I was spraying water over my chain. I even stopped one time and got the bike hosed down." </p><p>
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    "Today was all in-the-saddle riding. It was difficult to find a line where the wheel still had grip while pushing enough on the pedals. You had to sit far back on the saddle to keep enough pressure on the rear wheel."</p><p>
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    But even those tricks weren't enough to overcome the inevitable effects of the mud's severe toll on his drivetrain. "Suddenly, I couldn't downshift. For about two hours, I was either spinning way too hard of a gear or way too light of a gear."</p><p>
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    Specialized Racing's team mechanic Benno Willeit had tried every trick to set up Sauser well in advance of the race. "We knew it would be muddy, and we did all we could to make the bike run smoothly," said Willeit. "We used all the tricks: some 10-year-old Campagnolo chain lube you have to head up to make it liquid enough to get on the chain, grease on the cassette, Teflon oil for the suspension and silicon spray on the frame to make sure the mud comes off easy... but there was not much we could do for Susi out there."</p><p>
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    Sauser said, "I was just about to give up - it didn't make sense any more and three guys had just passed me. I was back to 15th."</p><p>
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    Forty-six of his fellow elite competitors made the opposite decision and abandoned the race, but Sauser persevered. </p><p>
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    "Finally, I figured out a trick that if I pressed a little on the upshifter as I pressed the downshifter, it would shift down. That solved my problem, and the race began for me again. In the final 30km, I moved all the way up to fourth place."</p><p>
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    Sauser crossed the line in a time of 4:21:15, 2:58 down on winner Perikilis Ilias (Greece).</p><p>
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    "Even with no mechanical issues out there, it would have been hard to catch the Greek rider," said Sauser. "He was on it today from the start."</p><p>
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    Sauser noted how well his Specialized tires hooked up in the awful conditions. He raced an S-Works Fast Trak 2.0 (front) and Specialized Control Renegade 1.95 (rear). "They were perfect out there," he said.</p><p>
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    Sauser's Specialized Racing teammate Max Knox had a good ride and was the highest placed South African in 18th place. Racing on his Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper Hardtail 29er, Knox finished in 4:34:38 at 16:21. He raced a single 38-tooth front chain ring and was pleased with the performance of his Specialized S-Works Fast Trak (front) and Control Fast Trak (rear) tires in such treacherous conditions. </p><p>
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    "Max learned a lot about European soil today," said team mechanic Willeit at the end of a long, muddy day.</p><p>
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    Sauser and his teammate Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy will race next weekend at Roc d'Azur in France.</p>

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