About to take on his first-ever Cape Epic mountain bike stage race tomorrow, Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing) has been busy spending time on his full-suspension Cannondale Scalpel 29er.
German national champion Fumic, 30, doesn't usually race his Scalpel. Instead, he competes on his hardtail Cannondale F29er for all cross-country events. However, he also doesn't normally race mountain bike stage races, and he knows eight days of riding in South Africa will take its toll, the effects of which can be mitigated somewhat by full suspension.
"We thought about using the F29er because we use it all year, but we talked with teams who've already done the Cape Epic, and they all said we'd be stupid not to take a full-suspension bike," said Fumic, who will partner with Italian national champion Marco Fontana. "It's no problem to race two or three days on a hardtail, but after that you want the extra comfort."
"Neither Marco nor I has done the Cape Epic before. I did some stage races, but they were only two or three days long – nothing special," said Fumic. "Cape Epic is completely different and it will not be easy for us."
To prepare his body and his equipment for the event, Fumic made some changes over the winter. For the first time, he spent a full two-and-a-half months in South Africa, training:
"I was getting up at 5.30am and riding by 6am during my time in South Africa. I got into the rhythm of that, which is similar to the Cape Epic. Many Europeans have problems with the early starts and the heat at this time of year – they're not used to it. There are no trees you can hide under, no shade.
"I also looked at some stages and was able to ride some of them. The race will be super rough. It was helpful to see what's coming. Otherwise, I would have picked the wrong bike and wrong tires."
Fumic's Scalpel 29 is a stock medium carbon frame painted with the Cannondale Factory Racing team's custom paint job. "I rode the bike all the time I was in South Africa, and it's fast on those kinds of trails," he said.
"I'm working on tuning my front suspension, and I want to lower the front end, which means 80mm of travel instead of 90mm, but we're still working on that," he said. "That's the only thing I want to change – I feel like it's a little too high."
The rear shock provides 100mm of travel and both the front and rear suspension can be locked out remotely with handlebar-mounted levers.
The Scalpel is equipped with a full SRAM XX drivetrain, including a 39/26T front chainring setup and an 11-36T rear cassette. The Cannondale SISL2 crankset is per the BB30 standard and includes a custom spider to accommmodate the SRAM XX rings. In his normal World Cup setup, Fumic races a SRAM XX1 (1x11) drivetrain.
Avid XX World Cup brake calipers and rotors grace the bike; however, Cannondale engineers added an adaptor that lets Fumic run 140mm diameter rear rotors, because the bike's default is 160mm. He uses the standard 160mm rotors up front.
Note the special adaptor attached to the frame and brake caliper
New for the Cannondale Factory Racing team in 2013 is a partnership with ENVE, who is providing 29 XC rims with DT 240s hubs (the front one is Lefty specific) and DT Aerolite spokes.
FSA provides both his bar (SL-K, 670mm wide with 9 degrees of backsweep and 4 degrees of upsweep) and seatpost (K-Force, 31.6mm diameter, 0-degree setback) and he'll be spending plenty of time on top of the Prologo X8 CPC saddle and holding onto Prologo grips. The team doesn't have a pedal sponsor, and Fumic has chosen to ride Shimano XTR SPDs.
Changing between bikes can be a challenge for some riders, but Fumic says he has no trouble going from the F29 to the Scalpel 29.
"The position and geometry of the Scalpel is not that different to the F29er, and to switch back and forth is not a big deal for me," said Fumic. "For the Cape Epic, the Scalpel is super light and has super travel. It's the same wheels, forks, tires, etcetera, as my other bike."
We weighed the Scalpel at 10.1kg (22.2lb). His mechanic noted that the Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1 29er tires with Snakeskin protection are currently set up with tubes, so the bike will be lighter once converted to tubeless; however, the team manager said he expects Fumic to choose 2.25in race tires, and Fumic told us he'll put in extra sealant to cope with the many troublesome thorns along the Cape Epic route.
"I spoke with the Bulls Team, who won the Cape Epic five times and also ride Schwalbe tires, and they gave us some advice," said Fumic, who has clearly been doing his homework before the race.
With all this attention to detail, it might seem as though Fumic is out to win, but instead he and Fontana say they're treating the Cape Epic as a special week of 'spring' training.
"Riding with Marco will be fun. It's not our goal to kill ourselves there, but we'll see," said Fumic. "We want to perform well in one or two stages. We know our strengths and weaknesses but we don't want to ruin our whole season. Maybe after we have a look this year, we can focus on the Cape Epic more next year."
"For us, doing the Cape Epic means a change to our training because, generally now, we train short and intense for World Cup cross-country races. For us, the Cape Epic will be a good experience. We hope to come out of it with good training and good form. It's all about training and working on ourselves."
Complete bike specification
- Frame: Cannondale Scalpel 29 (M)
- Fork: Cannondale Lefty XLR Hybrid, with remote lockout, 100mm travel
- Headset: Cannondale Headshock SI
- Stem: Cannondale OPI (One Piece Integration)
- Handlebar: FSA K-Force 670mm, 9 degrees backsweep, 4 degrees upsweep
- Tape/grips: Prologo
- Front brake: Avid XX World Cup, 160mm rotor
- Rear brake: Avid XX World Cup, 140mm rotor
- Brake levers: Avid XX World Cup
- Front derailleur: SRAM XX, direct mount
- Rear derailleur: SRAM XX
- Shift levers: SRAM XX
- Cassette: SRAM XX, 11-36T
- Chain: SRAM XX
- Crankset: Cannondale SISL2 for BB30 with custom spiders for SRAM XX 39/26T chainrings
- Bottom bracket: Cannondale SI, BB30
- Pedals: Shimano XTR SPD
- Rims: ENVE 29 XC
- Front hub: DT Swiss 240s, Lefty specific
- Rear hub: DT Swiss 240s
- Spokes: DT Aerolite
- Tyres: Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1 with Snakeskin sidewall (2.25in will likely be raced for Cape Epic)
- Saddle: Prologo X8 CPC
- Seatpost: FSA K-Force, 31.6mm diameter, 0mm setback
- Bottle cages: Cannondale alloy with side access (from right side)
- Rider's height: 1.73m (5ft 8in)
- Rider's weight: 68kg (149lb)
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 695mm
- Seat tube length, c-c: 450mm
- Tip of saddle nose to c of bars: 542mm
- Top tube length: 570mm
- Total bicycle weight: 10.1kg (22.2lb)