Professional Mountainbiker for Specialized. 2016 XCO World Champion

The physiology of a champion (part 1)

July 31st, 2016

By Thomas Bonne


I’ve long been wanting to do a piece on Annika’s physiology. My name is Thomas and Annika is my better half. I’ve been riding since the early 90’s but was never as successful as Annika. So I had to come up with something else to do. That something else turned out to be studying which led to a phd-position at the University of Copenhagen with Nikolai Nordsborg. The guy that got me into all this studying and research however is Carsten Lundby. A professor at the University of Zürich, my co-supervisor, a keen athlete and good friend. Today I work as a coach for some talented riders (Simon Andreassen, Sebastian Fini and Andreas Kron among others) and am very much influenced by the time I’ve spend with both Nikolai and Carsten. So what better way to spend some summer time than to persuade your world champion girlfriend to do some lab-testing! You have to remember I’m biased regarding Annika but her story and way into the world of cycling is rather unique.

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Mid-season reflections

July 27th, 2016

When I crossed the finish line in La Bresse I was relieved and very exhausted as I looked up on the screen on the finish line arch I saw a “15” in front of my name. I was feeling spend, beaten up, weak, no way in harmony with my bike and mentally a bit broken. Had you asked me one week earlier, this was no way near the result I expected. Coming into La Bresse with already two world cup wins this season.


Making my way through the World Cup in La Bresse (photo: Michal Cerveny)

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World Champion Bike and Equipment

July 21st, 2016

For World Championships this beauty was build up and ready to race. Take the tour below to see all details and personal preferences in my setup.

Annika VM cykel

My World Championships bike, the S-works Era. Total weight 10.34 kg (on my scale at least).

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My legs turned the new SRAM XX1 Eagle crank. For this race I rode a 32T chainring. That allowed my to have small enough gears for the climbs, while at the same time having high enough gears for an eventual sprint finish (this time not necessary). With the XX1 I would normally switch between a 30 and 32-tooth chainring depending on the course. In Albstadt for example I rode with a 30 tooth due to the steep climbs. With XX1 Eagle I just keep the 32 tooth on the front.

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A lot of gold. At first sight the new 12 speed SRAM XX1 Eagle cassette is HUGE! But with a range from 10 to 50 teeth the cassette covers all needs. Honestly I’m surprised with how well the shifting runs. Also, now a normal XX1 cassette even looks small to me.

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I ran the new S-works Renegade (gripton compound) rear. It rolls extremely well while at the same time having excellent grip. At marathon Worlds I rode the same tyre with 22 psi. There I flatted when I attacked a rocky descend maybe a little to aggressive. So for the race in Nove Mesto I rode this tyre with 24 psi just to feel more safe not to flat. I don’t know the exact weight of the tyres but I think they are somewhere in between the current S-Works and Control. These Gripton have a harder casing like the regular Control tyres but with a softer and lighter thread like the S-Works. 

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The new S-works Renegade thread pattern. It rolls extremely well and have a lot grip. Normally I would ride with a Fast Trak front and rear but this one has been on my rear wheel ever since we got them.

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Last year 2 days before the Cape Epic I tried out the Power saddle (155mm). I was hooked immediately since I struggled a lot with saddle sores. Actually I came out of the Cape Epic a whole lot better “down there” than when entering the race and that says a lot about the comfort and fit of this saddle. I actually didn’t think I would use it for xco racing, since it’s a little wider than I was used to. I was worried that it would be “in the way” when moving around on the bike, but by now I’m so used to this saddle, that it’s the only one I use no matter what race or what bike.

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This is one of the Jumanji areas, where he upgraded the bike with some light weight “bling bling”, in this case the custom made seat clamp (Carbon-Ti)

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Another Jumanji light weight “bling bling” upgrade. Top cap and bolt with name (Carbon-Ti)

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….aaaannd another lightweight “bling bling” upgrade, the seat clamp (Carbon-Ti)

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When I got my first Specialized full-suspension bike in the spring of 2014 (S-works Epic) it came with a 72 cm wide handlebar. At that time I was on my way to a training camp and didn’t have other handle bars. I came from a S-works Fate with a handlebar much more narrow. During the training camp I kind of fell in love with the 72 cm handlebar, so ever since then this has been the width that I’ve been riding. The green grips have become a regular on my bike. Jumanji says it’s the color of hope. They’ve worked well so we’re keeping them on.

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My front tyre was the new S-works Fast Trak tyre 2.1. At first look you don’t see the difference from the current Fast Track tyre, but the side knobs are a little different and provides a better side grip.

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SRAM Level Ultimate brakes. Light weight and gets the job done

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SRAM Level Ultimate. In comparison to the SRAM Guide that I rode previously the whole brake package is lighter but works just as good.

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Rock Shox RS1 fork with Specialized’s brain technology. The fork is a little heavier than the Rock Shox SID fork, but the stiffness and performance of the RS1 is hard to beat. (My fork was set up with 80 psi pressure and the rebound midway between fast and slow). At first a wheel change seems much more difficult than with a SID but if a Formula 1 team can change four wheels on a car in less than 10 seconds we can also make a fast change for a front wheel on a bike. It’s something we’ve practised on the team and now there’s not any difference regardless of fork/wheel combination. 

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Fox rear suspension with Specialized’s Brain technology (100 mm travel). Setup with 125 psi pressure and the rebound 2/3 to the slow side between fast and slow

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The Brain that controls it all. I can’t control my suspension (open or closed) from the cockpit on the handlebar as seen on other bikes. The reason being this little guy that detects the bumps on the ground and open the suspension accordingly when needed

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I’ve been riding Shimano pedals pretty much ever since I started biking except for one season. I love the feeling of these pedals. In my opinion it’s one of the most durable and reliable pedals on the market. I even use the same pedals on my road bike. Then I can wear the exact same shoe and have identical cleat position, which to me makes sense.

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For the first time I used the new Oakley RadarEV with the Prizm Golf lens. These glasses are very light, you barely feel them. That is also thanks to the none existing frame. Nothing to disturb vision and ventilation is excellent

sworks 6 xc women

The S-works 6 XC Shoe. In this case the women specific one. It is lighter than the previous models, since they took the upper part from the road shoe and build it on the mtb bottom. Quite clever. The fit of shoes is always individual, but luckily these fit my feet just perfect. Putting the road top on the mtb bottom has made my feet very happy.

Her's Chamois Butt'r

This blog should not be about my issues “down there”, but what for sure safes my popo is this stuff applied in rich amounts

World Cup Wave

May 31st, 2016

A solid but unclean run in La Bresse (photo: Michal Cerveny)

Dear readers, thanks for your dropping by. Let me update you on what’s going on.

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World Cup victory in Australia

May 1st, 2016

Winning the first round of the 2016 World Cup in Cairns

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South Africa

March 5th, 2016

Scenery of the Tour of Good Hope

Yesterday was the final day of the road race Tour of Good Hope.

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February 13th, 2016


Tenerife was amazing. Mostly because my everyday life was all about training and resting. Now I’m back in Denmark for a very short visit, with very restricted time on my bike and very much time doing other things in life, such as moving.

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Base building on Tenerife

January 30th, 2016

Nothing beats those first training rides in the sun. Coming straight from a dark, cold and wet cage, aka. Danish Winter, it feels extraordinarily liberating and transforming.


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Steaming feet

January 21st, 2016


Early morning road tripping through the mist

A few weeks in Germany flew by. We got home last night just before midnight, unpacked the car, went to bed and slept for more than nine straight hours. I was quite tired. Even though sitting in a car an entire day isn’t physically hard, it just still drains your energy. I needed a proper sleep after the travel, so I set no alarm clock and told Thomas to not wake me this morning, in case he would wake up before me and see, that I looked like somebody who still needed her beauty sleep. He always laughs when I give him instructions like that. Wise man – he did not wake me up though (He probably knows, that in the end it’s beneficial for him too. I’m just so much more manageable to be around, when not sleep deprived).

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