The right people at the right time
For one of the sports’ most successful athletes, Nino Schurter is also one of its’ most humble. He is tied with racing legend Julien Absalon for world cup race wins (33), is a 9-time world XC champion, an Olympic gold medalist and much more. People call him the GOAT, yet he talks about his 20-year career with the modesty of a stagiaire.
When we connect with him, he is fresh off a 9-week training stint in South Africa. He has travelled with his family – very important to him at this stage in his career, he says – ridden lots, and even found time to unwind, too.
For the last 24 years, Schurter has worked with the same coach, raced on the same bike brand, and largely collaborated with the same team sponsors. Scott has been with the team from the beginning. For years, ODLO has been both their on- and off-bike apparel sponsor – a year-round provider for their training, racing, and lifestyle needs. It’s evident the team values long-term partnerships. They’ve made a habit of staying with partners long-term, shunning change for change’s sake and preferring instead to invest in relationships – one of the reasons Scott-SRAM feels more like a family than a race program.
“We’ve been very lucky to have the right people and the right partners from the beginning,” says Schurter about the synergies with the team and the connectedness they feel with the partners they work with. “When I came in as a young rider, everything was set-up and not much has changed.”
“We always had a vision for how the sport would evolve,” he adds. “We’ve always had the right partners who shifted and adapted with the sport.”
For many cyclists, from one season to the next – a jersey is just a jersey and a pair of bibs, just that. There’s little that separates one from the next. Racing however reveals the truth. If the cut is wrong, or the chamois isn’t right, or the fabrics aren’t technical enough, athletes suffer. During several different conversations, Schurter and teammates Lars Forster, Andri Frischknecht and Kate Courtney all attest to this point in detail.
Forster had issues on another team that impacted ride feel. As a result, he could never get comfortable in the saddle. Courtney likes racing in skin suits, particularly in the heat, so she worked with ODLO to create a custom version completed in 2019. The team issue kit which ODLO creates specifically for Scott- SRAM is constantly being refined to rider specs and requests – inputs that then get trickled down into our collections like the new Zeroweight Pro bibs and jerseys.
“If you’re at the top end, you want the best,” adds 27-year-old Scott-SRAM Racing Team pro Andri Frischknecht during our interview, “and this is what we’ve gotten. You cannot create the best in one or two years – there’s a lot of technology in what we’re working on with our partners. And if it’s good for us – the pros – then we have something good we can offer to everyday riders.”