Kim Le Court adds Swiss Epic title to already impressive 2023 victory list
Kim Le Court’s spectacular run of success in 2023 shows little sign of slowing as this Biogen-backed mountain biker keeps going from strength to strength.
In March, Kim and her Efficient Infiniti Insure Pro MTB Ladies teammate Vera Looser conquered the challenging terrain and a world-class field to win the 2023 Absa Cape Epic, arguably the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world.
The win came a few weeks after she defended her title at the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and Kim followed her success at the Absa Cape Epic by placing fifth at the UCI Marathon World Cup event in Italy.
She also finished with a hugely credible 10th place in her first UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, and went on to represent Mauritius at the 2023 UCI Road World Championships held in Glasgow.
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Her Epic adventure continues
Kim’s jam-packed racing schedule then took her and teammate Vera to Switzerland in August for another event in the iconic Epic race series – the 5-day SPAR Swiss Epic stage race. The race is an unforgettable Alpine experience, offering a unique test of endurance and skill with the staggering beauty of a snow-capped, jagged peak skyline as a backdrop.
The Swiss Epic is considerably shorter than the Cape Epic in terms to the number of days, total distance, and daily stage distances, but the vertical ascent is more aggressive. “It was an awesome week with many ups and downs,” explains Kim. “While the stages are shorter and there are fewer days of racing, the amount of climbing and descending is insane.”
Kim says the experience was incomparable to the Absa Cape Epic. “At the Swiss Epic, you are either climbing steep trails or going down insane flow lines and extremely steep technical descents!” As an example, the mighty Groenlandberg mountain on the Cape Epic route tops out at 1,181 m above sea level, while the Scaletta Pass rises to 2,606 m above sea level. “We were already at 1,800 m above sea level on the start line, which was extremely high for me,” explains Kim.
Despite the difference in climbing profile, Kim didn’t really change much in her training. “I literally had no preparation for or specific training for the altitude. I came straight from the World Championships in Glasgow, and landed less than 24 hours before stage 1. I was really thrown into the deep end! I just try not to think too much about it really, I know I will struggle to breath, but so be it! If I mentally prepare myself, then I am already one step ahead!”
Thankfully, the terrain was not a surprise to Kim, who competed at the race with Vera in 2022. “We knew what was coming, even though it was different towns than last year. Knowing what Switzerland has to offer when it comes to climbing and downhills made a big difference.”
However, while the terrain is distinctively different, Kim says there are many similarities with the Absa Cape Epic and other events in the iconic race series. “You always get breathtaking scenery, exciting trails, tough riding and the awesome, well organised race villages.”
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Battling the elements
The unseasonably hot conditions in Europe was another factor in the race experience this year. However, the warmer weather was a welcome change from the atrocious wet conditions from last year, says Kim. “It rained almost every day last year and was super cold, especially for this little Mauritian. We had to ride with arm warmers on some days and on the stage 4 last year, I almost got hypothermia!”
In comparison, this year offered nicer weather, with beautiful blue skies and warm conditions, which meant Kim paid special attention to her hydration needs, especially as she came straight from the UCI road World Championships. “I drank a lot of fluid during the race – 4-5 litres per stage – with a mix of plain water and Biogen Carbogen, and a Biogen Hydrate Sachet after every stage for a boost of electrolytes and vitamins.”
Gels were Kim’s go-to fuel source on the bike, with a few bars when she could get them down. “I use the Biogen Liquid Energy Gels to start as they are caffeine-free. After 90 minutes, I use the Biogen Real Food Based Energy Gels for the added caffeine. Usually, I take one gel every 45 minutes, depending how I feel and the route.”
Off the bike, Kim focused on supporting her recovery between stages with a Biogen Recovergen 4:1 Carb:Protein shake as soon as possible after the stage. At night, Kim would take 5g of Biogen L-Glutamine Powder mixed in water with some Biogen Water Flavour Enhancer (Cream Soda) drops and a Biogen Zinc Complex Plus tablet. “These products supplement our diet, because food is a very important part of recovering, especially in stage racing. When we get to the race village lunch after the podium ceremony, we eat to support the recovery process and get in fuel for the next day on the bike.”
While Kim was following her race strategy to the letter and the duo were winning stages, a crash on the queen stage between St. Moritz to Davos nearly ended Kim’s race.
But her mental tenacity meant she decided to carry on racing rather than pull out of the event, which was a decision that paid off in the end. “I struggled to drink more and eat more than usual because I was feeling quite nauseous from the pain, but I kept it all as close as possible to what I do on normal days. I also tried to sleep as much I could and not move too much.”
Despite the crash, Kim and Vera maintained control of the race and executed their plan to perfection. Despite all the hard racing in her legs this year, Kim was still able to ride her competitors to their limit and then gain time on them whenever someone showed weakness.
“I think Vera and I are just the perfect match as stage race partners. We leverage each other’s weaknesses and our strengths, which is a strategy that works wonders. We know each other so well as we’re also such good long-time friends that we do not need to speak much on the bike. We literally react to situations at the same time, which is cool. We also have lots of fun moments off the bike, which helps.”
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More racing to come
Kim adds that her fiancé is another major driving force behind her success this year. “He has been my rock from day one. He is my number one supporter and he keeps pushing me forward to achieve more and more!”.
She gives credit for her superior fitness and conditioning this year to her coach, Jeroen Swart. “He took me on board last year in March and I’ve developed immensely since then, not only physically but mentally, too.”
Kim adds that she would not be where she is today without all her sponsors, who have backed her since the day she started her pro career and was barely a mountain biker. “And I can’t forget all my close family and friends who have my back and support me no matter what.”
Having conquered the Cape and the Swiss Alps, Kim says that team Elysator Efficient Infinity Insure plan to return to the Wines2Whales to defend the title they won last year. “We also plan to race the Epic Israel in October, and I am racing the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. I then head straight to France after that for the 3rd leg of the World Cup Marathon series in Morzine.”