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Pro Bike Checks: XC World Cup’s fastest, U23 women podium roundup

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We rounded out the elite women’s podium this morning with the prototype WiaWis of 2nd place Spitz and stock Focus O1E of 3rd place Indergand, behind World Cup winner & World Champ Annika Langvad over the weekend. Now we’ll take a quick look at the bike of the top three from the U23 women. That race was won by American champ Kate Courtney on this sparkly red S-Works Era, which shares a good bit with Langvad’s bike. But we’ve also got the Trek of Evie Richards and Felt of Sina Frei that take a very different approach to World Cup cross-country racing. Check out the unique setups…

Kate Courtney – Specialized S-Works Era

US U23 champ Kate Courtney’s S-Works Era shares a lot of similarities with the bike World Champ Annika Langvad rode to the elite women’s win, but while both bike paint jobs get sparkles it’s Kate’s red bike that really pops. #SparkleWatts! The super reflective silver details also pick up any color around the bike to make it really shine. Like Langvad’s Era, this one has its own share of customized Carbon-Ti elements throughout.

It was hard to miss those stars & stripes shoes in the pic above, so here’s a closer shot. This is a good reason to ride for Specialized and win your national championship – a custom pair of S-Works 6 XC mountain bike shoes.

Kates’s small S-Works Era gets just 90mm of travel front and rear with a Brain shock by Fox and a Brain equipped version of the new SID fork by RockShox. Her drivetrain is all SRAM XX1 Eagle in a stealth black & gray, vs. the Olympic gold edition we saw on most bikes. Courtney races with a Quarq DZero power meter with carbon SRAM arms and Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11 pedals. Like her teammate braking is handled by the new Magura MT8 Racelines in hi-vis yellow.

A Zipp stem (and low-profile Carbon-Ti top cap with custom ‘Kate’ alloy bolt) hold her S-Works Prowess carbon flat bar in place. Courtney uses a SRM PC8 head unit with her Quarq power meter, and had special smile and ILY stickers printed up to race so she could block out all of the extraneous information and concentrate on crushing the course (which she did, winning by almost 2 minutes.)

A neatly trimmed race number stayed in place for the race, with her cockpit being rounded out with ESI silicone grips.

A close eyed reader noted the hubs on Langvad’s bike. Courtney was riding the same new Roval Control SL 29 carbon wheels that use straight pull hubs developed together with DT Swiss. That means DT 240s internals and a 54T Ratchet in the freehub.

Evie Richards – Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL

The the sky blue Trek Top Fuel of UK champ Evie Richards is the same bike that saw its race debut here in Nové Město two seasons ago. Some things have stayed the same in that time as the team is racing the same XTR Di2 groupset, with a 1x setup and 32T chainring held in place by an MRP guide.

Richards was racing the Boost spaced, wide 29mm internal Bontrager Kovee XXX 29 carbon wheels (which interestingly get the same DT 240s internals as the Specialized Roval Control SL 29 wheels) wrapped in XR1 Team Issue Bontrager tires 2.2″ tires which made for a pretty wide XC racing setup, and a lot of cush through the course’s technical rock gardens.

Richards’ 100mm travel bike does get an update with a Kashima-coated Fox Transfer dropper post topped by a Bontrager Evoke RXL carbon railed saddle. As Gunn-Rita mentioned, more and more riders are seeing how much faster they hit the rough sections even on an XCO race course when they get the saddle out of the way. Richards’s bike also gets a bit of a suspension update as well. The bike still takes advantage of the electronically controlled Fox iRD suspension remote that we don’t see too often, but it’s been updated to work with the most recent Factory Float shock (in an Evie Richards specific tune) and new step cast Fox 32 SC fork. It’s not quite Fox Live automatic control yet (or is it?), but offers fast operation of the entire suspension as the push of a button.

Richards’ race number looked worse for the wear after the race (we suspect if got a pressure washing before the start.) Her cockpit was finished off with a Bontrager carbon bar, tapered ESI Fit XC grips, and the best application we ever see for a Barfly 4 MTB mount that keeps her Garmin Edge 520 out of the way of her race number but still at the right angle for easy visibility. Of course an E. Richards decal on the Fox 32 will prevent any mixups in suspension setup when the fork is off being services by the team mechanics.

Sina Frei – Felt Nine FRD

Suisse rider and EU champ Sina Frei rounded out the U23 podium on a very different bike. Frei was the only woman to make it onto a podium over the weekend aboard a hardtail.

Her carbon Felt Nine FRD hardtail eschewed suspension and dropper posts for light weight instead. An XX1 Eagle group kept component weight low, with the less common XX1 Eagle Gripshift option and a set of Level Ultimate brakes.

While an unnamed ultralight carbon seatpost and carbon-railed Selle Italia SLT saddle kept her perch light. She’s a pretty tiny rider at just 151cm (4′-11″) so the lighter weight can be a big advantage to her, without too much stress on that shady looking light seatpost. A flat Truvativ Noir carbon bar with ESI Chunky grips rounds out her cockpit, clamped on by a Syntace alloy stem with her Polar M460 computer.

For tires, Frei’s team is fairly unique in running rubber from Vredestein. Frei raced her way to third place with a pair of 29 x 2.2″ Spotted Cats mounted to SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels.

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