Interview with Nicole Koller

24. June 2024

The 27-year-old from Zurich and her partner, Anne Terpstra – this legendary bike event in South Africa is disputed in two-person teams – won the ‘Tour de France of mountain biking’ at their first attempt. The two teammates triumphed in the Prologue and all seven stages! 

Only a very few can include a victory at the Cape Epic on their list of achievements. Can you give us an insight into your experience and emotions?

Of course. It was an experience and achievement of which I’m immensely proud and that I’ll certainly never forget. We were the smallest team with just three local staff, but everyone was passionate, giving 150% every day. So it’s even nicer that we could reward their hard work with this win.To be honest, I never imagined that winning could be so mentally exhausting. It might sound silly, but we were super-focussed for 32 hours during those eight days (trails, competition, tactics, food, etc.). You win a stage and are delighted with the result, but you’re already thinking about the next day. Although we also tried to ‘enjoy’ this time. There were some stunning stage locations and the organisers did a fantastic job of giving us a perfect race. But ultimately, I still don’t think it sinks in, even after almost three months.




You’re not only a successful mountain biker, but have also been the Swiss Cyclo-cross Champion and two-time Road World Champion in the Mixed Relay. Can you give us an insight into your everyday training? 

Actually, I’ve always competed in multiple disciplines and still do, although less frequently today, because I’ve realised that it’s good for me to take a break from racing during the winter.

I replaced my coach this season. This has obviously resulted in lots of changes and brought a breath of fresh air to my training regime. For example, I now train every day, but no longer do two training sessions a day on my bike. So my days are pretty similar... I start my cycle training – consisting of various sessions (easy, Vo2max or toning exercises) – between 09.30 and 10.30 am. This lasts between two and four hours. Then I clean my bike, which isn’t my favourite job. Afterwards, I have lunch and a power nap. The afternoons are free for other things, such as core training or spending time with my family and friends. I’m completely free to choose which bike I use for my training sessions. But I tend to complete key sessions (intervals) on my MTB and longer, easy sessions on the road. It’s good to have mix.

The more success you have, the greater the pressure and expectations. How do you deal with this? Do you have any tips for amateur athletes who also suffer from nerves before a competition?

Yes, success obviously leads to expectations. I’m constantly faced with these in various forms and it’s not always easy for me to deal with them. What’s clear to me is that I put the most pressure on myself and have very high expectations. It helps me a lot to remember where I began, what progress and improvements I’ve already achieved and what crises I’ve overcome. I make a note of the facts and compete armed with this knowledge. It’s second nature for me to give my all and nerves simply show me how important it all is. It’s simply part of the job for me. Of course, I also have small rituals, such as meditating on race-day mornings or listening to good music when warming up. Ultimately, there’s probably no easy solution, you just have to see what works for you.




What are the 3 key factors for success in your opinion?

  1. Fun & enjoyment - a happy rider is a fast rider
  2. Ambition & perseverance
  3. Trust

Do you have an insider tip with regards to training, equipment, nutrition and recovery?

Ultimately, I’d probably say something that applies equally to every area: approach everything with a relaxed attitude and don’t get lost in the details.

And seek assistance and help from experts, establish a good team and support network.

Fotos: zVg