Sven Martin prises open the brains of the World’s fastest mountainbike riders and looks inside.
In part four of our 2012 World Cup Preview we learn about the training regime, new riders on the block and podium contenders.
2012 World Cup Preview pt 4
Words and photos: Sven Martin.
Training and conditioning (scientifically) seems to be more important these days both in our sport and in Moto these days. Do you feel pressure to train harder each year? How important is this aspect vs. skills and the right equipment for you?
Aaron Gwin: I think to compete at the top level you have to have a good mixture of both. With the competition getting so good people are looking for every advantage they can get so I think training is becoming more important. I think every main sport is that way though and downhill is just kind of starting to break into that level as well.
Greg Minnaar: No point bringing a V8 if it can’t turn. It’s a combination of all three.
Gee Atherton: I don’t think its a case of training harder, just a case of using new techniques and making your training more efficient so it does more for you, if it was just a case of training harder it would be simple, but that’s far from the case, the training we are doing now is also tailored a lot more towards avoiding and recovering from injury.
Danny Hart: This years off season I have been training hard, because I feel there is a bit of a target on my back, because of Worlds, but I have been training with Alan for a good few years now, and we have always been quite specific with what we do, we do testing to see what I need to work on etc.
Steve Smith: I don’t find it hard to ever get up to speed after I’ve been of my bike for a month but if I were to take a month off training mid winter I’d be screwed. The combination of testing, training and putting the time on your bike is a different ratio for every rider. I just love riding my bike so I try to ride as much as possible with out blowing training off.
Brook MacDonald: Every year seems to be getting faster and faster and people are training harder and harder, training and especially conditioning definitely is a big part of training. Indeed I too train harder each year.
Cam Cole: You do feel that pressure but for me it’s a case of training smarter rather than harder. I don’t think I have a problem with the hard bit. Its hard to find the line between being on track and too tired or underdone. I think it’s a pretty big package that helps people win races now. I have awesome equipment for 2012 so there’s no excuses there. I would like to be out skilling more right now but I’m just getting as fit as I can so when I get on the bike I can get up to speed quickly.
Troy Brosnan: Every year you have to step it up and science is coming into play with things but I like it the old fashion way! Having fun on my bike.
Justin Leov: It’s always a juggle. You need to get the right mix; I always have had a pretty good sense of the conditioning and believe that it’s a pretty important factor. Not more really just smarter. Everyone seems to be sharp these days though, which is good. Competition steps up, the sport moves forward.
Josh Bryceland: I don’t think it’s as important as some people make out, I think skills and knowing your equipment well is the key. Of course it helps a lot but yeah, time on the bike is a big one for me personally.
Steve Peat: Yes, I feel the pressure to train harder, these young kids with nowt better to do with themselves than keep stepping it up and pressurizing old school!!!!
Sam Blenkinsop: I think training will have to be the most important, if you’re fit and you feel good on the track, you don’t get tired and you don’t make mistakes so you don’t lose time. You will always have to work on skills too, but training and conditioning is top for me.
Andrew Neethling: Maybe a little yes. It is way more professional than it used to be, thus riders are training harder but there is a fine line between harder and smarter. Also, it is still a skills based sport so again there is a fine line between training vs. skills. There are just so many variables with our sport.
Brendan Fairclough: Very important for me, I’m training hard and hoping I still have some skills when I get back on it! Training has been my missing link for so many years and its good to see how hard everyone tries these days. Just sucks that some tracks, rely purely on peddling power!! Not mentioning any names!!!
Last year we saw a few fresh faces up in the top ten and on the podium, who do you think is the next rider coming up that we can expect to start seeing breakthrough performances. Or dark horse wildcard riders that, if lucky can string together a podium worthy run?
Aaron Gwin: Breakthrough rider, I’d probably say Troy Brosnan, even though he kind of already has. He’s a good kid and has a rad style; I’m expecting big things from him. Dark horse? I’m definitely gonna have to go with my boy Jared Graves! He’s the man and I think he’s gonna surprise a few people with his comeback.
Greg Minnaar: No such thing as a dark horse, did you not pay attention to the racing last year? Hard to say whom the next rider will be to step on the box, there about 10 or so guys fighting for it now.
Gee Atherton: Al Bond.
Danny Hart: Nowadays it is really hard to say, there is so much talent in the field it is just when the one rider puts it together, so many of them could be really competitive, I was riding with a junior in Italy a few weeks ago, Gianluca Vernasa, he is going to do really well.
Steve Smith: Can’t say Troy cause he’s as consistent as a veteran. This is a tough one for me to answer. So many fast guys out there and an entire winter of work or not working can make the difference. I’m going to say Georgy boy Brannigan.
Brook MacDonald: I think Troy Brosnan for sure he had an amazing season last year so I think he will have a lot of confidence coming into this years races.
Cam Cole: It’s hard to pick those wild horses but following the recent trends you would think there to be one or two new ones. I think we have found our new candidates for the “New” top 10 and there will be battles between all these guys that have risen up the last two years.
Troy Brosnan: Hopefully I will be that rider! 😉
Justin Leov: Matt Scoles is the dark horse, if he gets a ride that is….
Josh Bryceland: I’m not sure about any new faces but I think Brosnan will be a force to be reckoned with. Also Brendog will be back in the game!!
Steve Peat: I think the usual young crew will be back fighting harder, J Bryce, Brook Mac, and my young self.
Sam Blenkinsop: Bruni Loic is the one to look out for. I think he’s strong and if he has fun on the bike, this year will be a good one for him.
Andrew Neethling: I think the guys that tasted podiums last year will look to be back up there again. I think there were 12 odd riders that got podiums last year. Many riders showing speed but putting that together in a race run is often bit tougher.
Brendan Fairclough: Not sure there seems to be so many faces coming though that on there day can be right up there, its sick.
Who do you think will be the biggest threat to the top three steps of the podium this year?
Aaron Gwin: All the main dudes.
Greg Minnaar: Gee and Gwinny have shown they can be up there year after year, I expect them to do the same this season.
Gee Atherton: Depends who goes quickest!
Danny Hart: Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar, And Troy Brosnan/Brook MacDonald.
Steve Smith: I don’t see Gwin, Minnaar, and Gee slowing down. Those guys are always consistent but of course there will be new faces.
Brook MacDonald: I think there will be a mix just with everyone stepping it up so it will be good too see a mix of riders up there in the top 3.
Cam Cole: If I were a bookie at the betting agency I would be sweating about picking favourites for 2012.
Troy Brosnan: Troy Brosnan.
Justin Leov: One of the Kiwis!
Josh Bryceland: I can’t see Gwinny getting any slower.
Steve Peat: Big air, Ratty and Old School.
Sam Blenkinsop: Brook McDonald, Danny Hart and Gwin.
Andrew Neethling: A threat to the usual top 3? Too tough to say.
Brendan Fairclough: Ben Baker