Let’s move on to the downhill. World Champs must be a big goal for your season this year. How are you preparing for it?
World Champs in Cairns – it’s just amazing. The track has obviously changed a lot but there’s small parts to it that were in the first ever downhill race I did in my life.
It’s certainly a special opportunity to have been on the circuit this long and still be competitive and hopefully race World Champs at home. Australia has quite a competitive team so you’re not guaranteed to be on it but I’m working a lot on my training and set up to hopefully get the best result possible in Cairns.
Can we expect to see some interesting bikes at Cairns?
The thing with Cairns is there’s a perception that it’s kind of more mellow and pedally. There is a bit of a pedal at the end for fifteen seconds but there are sections on there that you need to have the right amount of suspension for – it’s a really high speed course.
I’m not sure what people are going to do or what people are going to come up with, we’re obviously working on our own plan and trying to work out the fastest way down the hill. But it just depends. Development takes time, having an idea and having a wish doesn’t always come to pass. We’ll do our best to make that happen before World Champs but we’ll see, you’ll just have to watch.
What other tracks stand out for you this year?
I always love Fort William but it’s a brutal place. Fort William and I have quite a fierce battle going on in my career – I’ve been there thirteen times and I’ve been injured six so I think I’m winning technically. 7:6. The ratio’s not great.
How are you feeling coming into Lourdes?
Yeah my body’s all good now. I’ve had a lot of time on my bike than in the past couple of years. I’m enjoying my bike, I’m enjoying travelling, I’m enjoying training just living the dream! Being in that headspace normally means it’s going to be a good year.
Kenta Gallagher credits you for getting him on the UR Team, what’s your side of the story?
I didn’t know Kenta that well but I met him at a race in Scotland in Glencoe and just briefly and then I hung out with him in Cairns last year and then I’ve seen him on the circuit from time to time. I always try to say “hi” to the new guys because it takes a little bit to get to know everyone.
Basically, we just had a meeting at the end of the year and Cous Cous said if it didn’t work out with Andrew (Neethling) who would I choose. Kenta was my first choice so I was really stoked that it worked out.
Now we’ve spent the first month together at team camp, I’ve seen him interact with the whole team and also had him around for a “bit of banter”, as he says, it’s been a lot of fun.
It’s a shame for him that he has a bit of an injury but as you know, I’ve had a couple and they come and go. It’s the beginning of a two year contract for Kenta so he has plenty of time. He works hard, he has a good attitude and it’s really not going to be a problem, he’ll forget about it by the end of the year I reckon.
How are you getting on with the new Suntour suspension?
The Suntour’s really impressive. I was a bit hesitant when it first started coming up in conversation, Suntour doesn’t have the highest level reputation. We tested the fork right out of the box without doing any sort of set up. I only did maybe two or three runs in Whistler last year but I was already really impressed and felt just as confident on my bike.
Bos is really good for stability and generating speed on the course but you sacrifice a lot of comfort. With the Suntour you still have that stability and that confidence but it was way more comfortable on my hands. That was the first thing I noticed.
Obviously over time and over the winter we’ve been testing and I’ve learned a lot more about it and it’s certainly opened my mind a lot. It was a dream of mine to work with Bos since I was a kid so I was really thankful for that opportunity but with Suntour I’m really impressed with the product. We’re working together on different ideas and always looking for ways to improve the experience on the bike and shorten the time on the track.
Is there an advantage to being the only major team on Suntour?
It’s always a bonus to have that kind of focus if you are the biggest team that’s supporting a company like Suntour. It’s a similar sort of thing with Polygon, over the last five years we’ve developed their reputation and shown that we are a big team, we get great results and Polygon is a serious brand. Suntour is also a serious brand and they can compete. They’re not just an OEM brand, they can produce product that can win races.
Any last words?
Thanks to my sponsors including Bell, Polygon, Suntour, Kenda, Alpinestars, E13, VP, Spank, ODI, Box, Reverse, KMC, Direttissima and Galfer.
Go ride your bike!