Part two of our 2012 Downhill World Cup preview featuring interviews with the top ten World Cup riders.
To accompany the feature in Dirt Magazine issue #121 we bring you a World Cup preview from the man with an encyclopedic knowledge of downhill racing, Sven Martin.
Read what the World’s fastest racers have to say below.
2012 Downhill World Cup Preview. Pt 2
Words and photos: Sven Martin
What do you feel about such an early start to the season ( mid March ) followed by such a big break before round #2 Val Di Sole?
Aaron Gwin: I think it sucks! Kinda weird, but it is what it is I guess.
Greg Minnaar: Funny thing is, I only found out the season started in March when I was on a ride just before Christmas…I actually argued with a friend about it. I honestly thought it started in April again. Well it works out good for me, Cape Epic with Peaty after round 1, my mates wedding, Sea Rotter then a week off or so and round two in Italy.
Gee Atherton: It’s a bit weird for sure, it messes with the training and pre-season prep, but it’s the same for everyone. I’m pretty stoked to get racing again so I’m glad we don’t have long to wait.
Danny Hart: I think it is ridiculous. Because our off season is cut so short the teams don’t have as long to sort their logistics out. It’s just not very well thought out at all!
Steve Smith: It feels a little funny. Especially the first race being the most physically demanding. It feels like I’m training for that race and that race only because the 2nd world cup is so far after. Gotta do what you gotta do right?
Brook MacDonald: Kind of sucks starting so early then a big break but at the same time I can head home and get more training and riding done.
Troy Brosnan: I think it is good to judge where your fitness is at and then go back and do some more homework!
Justin Leov: Fine by me, its like having the last of our New Zealand series then a break and getting ready for the World Cup start. That’s what it feels like anyway.
Josh Bryceland: It’s kind of awkward but at the same time it allows us to train specifically for the physical nature of PMB before tweaking our training back to some more DH oriented stuff for the remainder of the season.
Steve Peat: I think they should cancel the Olympics and let us get on with our own race series how we want to do it. It’s going to be strange having such a big break in between.
Sam Blenkinsop: I think it’s all good, you get to see if you’re on it or not, then you have got time to step it up and we get a bit more time at home.
Andrew Neethling: It is tough because you actually have to start preparing earlier but then stay on it for a two month break. So technically we get a bit less time off and the season will be longer. No complaints. It is just part of the deal. I think the two month break is quite silly to be honest.
Brendan Fairclough: It’s good for me, my focus is not on South Africa but on the other rounds, it gives me a good chance to see what the vibe is then get my shit together and my knee will be %100 for the rest.
Do you train for the year as a whole or do you, because of the timing and nature of PMB South Africa track, switch your training accordingly?
Aaron Gwin: With SA being so early and such a unique style of track I think you definitely gear your training more towards that race then switch it up a little after.
Greg Minnaar: Ask the coach… Stephane Girard makes sure I’m in peak performance for every race, but I’m sure the main focus will be mid season.
Gee Atherton: Well I train for the year, but it’s tailored to suit the events and races that I’m doing at certain times. The training for PMB isn’t too much different from the other world cups, for sure its a lot of pedalling, but you reach the end of every world cup track as equally beat and in oxygen debt. If you finish a race with anything left in the tank you know you could have given more.
Danny Hart: Well, with Pietermaritzburg being the nature that it is, I personally have to train for that unique track, but I think the fitness for that track sets that aspect of racing up for the year.
Josh Bryceland: Ha-ha I answered this last question, so yes, I do.
Steve Smith: My training for Africa is quite specific. After PMB the gym routine and cardio will change and start to flow in with the season.
Cam Cole: The early start is no worries. Its summer here in New Zealand so it’s easy to motivate to get out training etc. I think you need to be super fit and strong these days in our sport so every event you need to be at 100% to get those vital few tenths of seconds. The lead up to SA will surely be a touch different to a Val Di Sole.
Troy Brosnan: I have been training for SA so far but will start to change it up soon.
Justin Leov: For me it’s somewhat adjusting my training to PMB then a refocus to the season.
Steve Peat: I usually just prep for the whole season but this year allows for a little different approach.
Andrew Neethling: I always treat my off-season as time to make improvements. In saying that I definitely focus on different things depending on time of year and tracks coming up. I am training for the year with an early focus on PMB.
Brendan Fairclough: This year has been different, as I have had to rehab my knee. Maybe it has been a good thing, as I have had to train a lot to keep my knee in shape.
Where else or what other countries, regions, tracks would you like to see the UCI World Cup visit?
Aaron Gwin: West coast USA!!! And maybe even Australia and/or New Zealand? Can I get an amen?!
Greg Minnaar: Brazil, Japan, Russia. Maybe return to Big Bear or find a West Coast Venue. Brazil had to be one of my favourites, a downhill run finishing 50m from the beach…it doesn’t get better then that.
Gee Atherton: I’d like to race in Brazil again; the fans are wild and it’s always such a good atmosphere. Also would be cool to get a world cup back in California….
Danny Hart: I think at the minute it is a good range with SA being on the world cup and Scotland, two totally different ends of the scale, but I think they should try and cover all four corners of the globe. Reaching out to Asia.
Brook MacDonald: Queenstown New Zealand for sure!
Cam Cole: Australia and New Zealand. Maybe another US/North American round.
Troy Brosnan: China, and Schladming again!
Justin Leov: New Zealand, where else? I think we could put out courses that would fit well into the WC schedule and which people would be stoked to race on.
Josh Bryceland: There’s the on-going “World Cup doesn’t mean Europe” thing, but I think we do quite well with Africa, Norway and North America, but it would be sweet to go to maybe Brazil again or somewhere like that. I’m sure it would be harder logistically but I mean the places we visit already have a big MTB following so we should get it to some new audiences.
Steve Peat: Peru, Mexico, New Zealand, Fiji, Cancun, Bahamas, Hawaii, Maldives… just a few places it would be nice to visit for a race!
Steve Smith: Brazil! I’ve been there once and think it’s an unreal place that I’d love to race my bike. I was there for a street race but they scare me. I prefer to be on dirt where there is no glass ha-ha.
Sam Blenkinsop: I would love to see a round in NZ we’ve got some of the best tracks in the world and it would be cool for friends and fans to see.
Andrew Neethling: I feel that the World Cup should visit as many different countries as possible. I would like to race in NZ, AUS and even Japan for example. I think we could easily do this with proper planning of the schedule.
Brendan Fairclough: I would like to see some more rounds in North America, I think there are some good tracks there and don’t understand why they have not been utilized.