We continue with our awesome in-depth 2012 Downhill Mountainbike World Cup preview.

The man with the facts, Sven Martin, gets inside the minds of the worlds fastest riders.

Words and photos: Sven Martin


Jill Kintner

How many other non UCI DH events/races will you race in addition to the World Cups?  What do you think is a good number of races and length of season for racing?

Aaron Gwin: I think I'm racing in maybe 6 events outside of the WC's. I don’t know on length. I think its ok how it is now if the first race was just moved to May or something.

Greg Minnaar: I’d love to see the world cup back up to 10 races, not sure what other races we will be doing, there was talk of DH1 and if that happens I’m sure we'll be there.

Gee Atherton:  I’ll be doing a few extras, I like to get into the swing of the race season by doing as many races as possible, but also you have to make sure you don't fade mid season.

Danny Hart: I will maybe do a couple of pre-season races, but not definite because of the early start to the season. I will try and do some nationals, maybe 2 or 3. It's hard to fit everything in.

Steve Smith: It’s hard to say. I focus on World Cups and do what I’m told in between. It seems like I’ve done around 15-ish main races a year in the past. Racing all the time isn’t all that hard. Traveling across the world for one weekend is what makes it tough.

Brook MacDonald: Kind of depends on what your team is planning on doing, but I think I will be racing a few IXS Cups and my national series here. I think it’s good to at least race between 15 to 17 races during the year just depends on how much ridding you want to get done.

Cam Cole: I think a few races in between are good but not too many as I get burnt out traveling to them all. It’s far enough to Europe from New Zealand so to add more travel into my year is hard. Riding DH but not racing every week is fun and keeps me sharp for the World Cups.

,during the 4th UCI World Cup DH, Mt St Anne, Canada.
,during the 4th UCI World Cup DH, Mt St Anne, Canada.

Troy Brosnan, Mont Sainte Anne.

Troy Brosnan: Might be racing a couple on IXS races and the famous Crankworx.

Justin Leov: I'll be racing some US races again this year and if I had the choice, a 12 to 14 WC round series would be prefect. There would be then little reason to race anything other than the WCs.

Steve Peat: You certainly have to pick and choose wisely these days, having a family and other commitments also helps me make my mind up on when and where, I will do the British Series, Peaty's Steel City Downhill, and I am still trying to work out which other ones will fit perfectly.

Sam Blenkinsop: I’m not too sure as of yet, all the World Cups, I would like to do more, but see what happens for me, it would be cool if we had, say, 12 World Cup rounds and race every weekend.

Andrew Neethling, during filming of 3 Minute Gaps, Cape Town South Africa
Andrew Neethling, during filming of 3 Minute Gaps, Cape Town South Africa

Andrew Neethling, during filming of 3 Minute Gaps, Cape Town South Africa

Andrew Neethling: The team is planning to do Sea Otter, Crankworx, European Crankworx maybe a UK national and if it helps with preparation maybe a few others. As far as the World Cups go. I feel we should have a few more. We could easily have 10 or so races if it was planned well. As riders we are heavily judged on World Cups. It would be great to have more big races. I think the fans would appreciate this to.

Brendan Fairclough: I will be doing Crankworx and some of the IXS cups.

Have there been any major changes to your program and approach for 2012? (Physical, mental preparations, new coaches etc) and any major changes to your training regime for 2012?

Aaron Gwin: No not really, just building on what we already have. Just gotta keep on keeping on.

Greg Minnaar: Yeah there has, new clothing, new suspension, new brakes and drive-train and additional trainer. I’m still working with Stephane Girard but I've joined up with Garth Oliver to work on the stability and the strength of the left side of my body. Because of the injuries I have sustained in the past I am considerably weaker on my left side, hopefully Garth is the key to sorting it all out. The only other thing that has changed is now I have a sweet Santa Cruz Stigmata cross bike to train on.

Gee Atherton:   Yeah, I've had a few changes from last year; I’m stoked for a bit of a fresh start with GT. I’ve made some changes to my training.

Danny Hart: Not really no, I have a new mechanic and we have been working on getting the most possible out of my bike, and that is going really well, training is all the same, pretty much. I am working with the same coach; I have been with Alan Milway now for as long as I can remember and we have a good relationship, so we work well together.

Steve Smith:  I’m sticking with Todd from Perform X. There are no major changes other then the ones I make personally to make my self a better racer.

Brook MacDonald: I have recently started working with a new coach Todd Schumlick from Canada; Mainly focusing on physical stuff making sure upper body strength is strong. So, a new coach and a new training programme.

Cam Cole : I have a new coach this year and so far preparation has been going well so looking forward to my first event so I can test my new prep out. It’s been motivating having that change in my racing.

Troy Brosnan: I have been trying to deal with pressure from myself and just doing the usual training! Maybe a bit of ******** ha ha!

Justin Leov: New coach, Todd Schumlick, who also coaches Stevie Smith. Lots of changes there...

Josh Bryceland: Yeah big time, last year my training didn’t have much structure but this year I’m working closely with Dan Critchlow and I’m training a lot harder, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the benefits.

Steve Peat: Yeah, I decided to take club house membership at the golf course and not enter any big Moto trials events!!! There are some other huge changes for me this season.

,during the 4th UCI World Cup DH, Mt St Anne, Canada.
,during the 4th UCI World Cup DH, Mt St Anne, Canada.

Sam Blenkinsop: I changed my coach for this year, Todd Schumlick has been real good for me, I’m having fun working with him. I've changed every thing in my training from last year so far.

Andrew Neethling: New coach, Alan Milway, and working with someone on mental preparations as well.  Not exactly huge changes but subtle ones that hopefully will make the difference. I’m doing a little bit more cross training, which I am quite enjoying.

Brendan Fairclough: I have had a physio and a trainer working close to me for the last few months, I have been getting my knee up to strength. I’m taking my training to a new level, not just playing around on the pump track and riding XC, I’ve got some more specific shit thrown in there too for good measure.

What did you feel was your biggest regret in 2011, and what are you doing differently to remedy that?

Aaron Gwin: No regrets!

Greg Minnaar: No regrets bro, it's not very One Life to have regrets...

Gee Atherton:   Landed on my head too many times, probably try to keep it rubber side down a bit more this year. I think the new bike will help with that.

,during the 2011 World Championships, Champery Switzerland.
,during the 2011 World Championships, Champery Switzerland.

Danny Hart:  I went to South Africa last year with a negative attitude, and that showed I had a very hard week. And nothing swung my way.

Steve Smith:  There were a couple races where I came in to the finish line wanting to punch myself in the head. MSA and La Bresse were the ones I was extremely unhappy with. I knew I had cruised. It’s a bad feeling to not do as well as you want with a great run but even worse knowing you didn't give it your best. I’d rather crash knowing I put a good one in. Stop being a weiner is the only way to fix those ones.

Brook MacDonald: Not been prepared for South Africa last year, and will be for this year!

Cam Cole: In 2011 I was happy but also frustrated with three 5th place finishes. I would have liked to get up in the top three more often. That is also motivating me heading into 2012.

Troy Brosnan: My regret was not starting the season off strong and making mistakes in final runs which I had seemed to get it right at the end of the season!

Justin Leov: South Africa. I just didn't hit the nail on the head there!

Josh Bryceland: No regrets, just lessons to be learned.

Steve Peat:Missing a pole in La Bresse was a big low point for me, it's something I have never had to deal with before and so to remedy it, I am trying to get back on track.

Sam Blenkinsop: My training was not as good as I wanted it to be so that's why I wanted to change coaches.

Andrew Neethling: I had quite the shocking start to the season. I am working on the mental side. Learning to take each race as it comes.

Brendan Fairclough: No regrets.