Would the WC stars race a 29er? What tracks suit them? How do they feel about Norway and Val D’Isere? We find out all this plus a few extra random facts!
Words and photos: Sven Martin
Would you ever consider racing a 29’er (or 650B sized wheel) bike at a World Cup, especially at a track like South Africa? Would you be open to testing such a bike if the wheels, tires and suspension were of World Cup worthy standards?
Aaron Gwin: I’d race a tricycle if they made one faster than the bike I currently have. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Greg Minnaar: You’ve either been hanging around Jonesy or South African cross-country riders too much. You can’t sell a 26′ XC bike in SA these days, and the reasons why 29″ is better just blows me away. I’m open for trying, get me a descent fork that will hold a 29″ wheel and I’ll give it a go. All in all 26′ is my choice.
Gee Atherton: I think they look a bit kooky you know, like skin suits, sure they might be quicker but if we are all using them, then nothing is changed, we just look a bit gay.
Danny Hart: Maybe, if I am honest I have never rode a big wheeler in my life, so I don’t have a good argument for them.
Steve Smith: I’d prefer to keep DH traditional. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone but I think 29er DH bikes are lame as shit.
Brook MacDonald: I’m not sure on this one, I don’t know if it would feel right? But I’m sure there is someone out there trying it out…
Cam Cole: I may try it if the option is there. I kinda feel my bike is long enough already being a bigger dude and the wheel base is pretty stable at speed. I guess for one off events they might be good. We will see soon maybe?
Troy Brosnan: Don’t know about that one… as long as I didn’t have to wear lycra!
Justin Leov: No thanks! But who knows where the sport ends up. If you’re getting a pay check you run what makes you keep it.
Andrew Neethling: Always up to test things that could have an advantage. Feel we would be there already if it was faster.
Josh Bryceland: Hell yes!
Steve Peat: Yes, I would be an idiot not to try and test it. We push ourselves and our bikes each season so if there is a possibility of something new working out then get it tested. At least then it can be put to bed!!!
Sam Blenkinsop: I would like to test it out to see what it goes like, if it feels good and faster then why not?
Brendan Fairclough: This is mountain biking; there should be a rule against it! People say its rolls faster!!! Oh, ok then I’ll run a motor on my bike as well, that would make it roll faster too. Sick of it!
How do you feel about Norway and Val d’Isere as two new venues on the circuit? Would you like to see more new venues each year or a mix of tried and tested venues with new venues?
Aaron Gwin: I think a mixture of new and old venues are good. Wish the two new events were somewhere on this side of the pond or down south but all good they look like fun.
Greg Minnaar: I feel good, haven’t been to Norway yet. New venues are good, we need a change and its good to mix things up a little.
Gee Atherton: I think Norway will be cool, I think there should be a good feeling about the race, and hopefully a good crowd will show up…. as for Val d’isere, I’m not sure, the races in that area in the past have not been that busy, but fingers crossed.
Danny Hart: Yeah, I think they are doing it well, you have to have your old faithful tracks, but, new venues is always a bonus, I am looking forward to it, Hopefully they have done a test race of some sort, so they know of any troubles to iron out.
Brook MacDonald: I think its pretty sweet having new venues. Gets slightly boring going back to the same places every year and it’s good to experience new country sides. But still good with old venues as most of them are good tracks. Would be cool to mix it up and having a new venue or two every year.
Cam Cole: A mix is good. I am looking forward to the new ones. I love Mont Sainte Anne, that’s a fave for me, so keep a few classics too. Maybe bring some old classics back if they could. The mix of old and new has been pretty good the last few years.
Troy Brosnan: That’s a hard one, it is good that no one has raced on these tracks and will be an even playing field.
Justin Leov: Its good actually, fresh venues keep everyone wondering and excited.
Josh Bryceland: I’m excited.
Steve Smith: I’m very excited about the new ones. I think it’s a better race when everyone shows up having no idea where the track goes. I can walk every World Cup from 2011 in my head. Having a mixture of new and old tracks to me is ideal.
Steve Peat: I think a good mix is worthy; it is the WORLD CUP SERIES so we need to race all over the World. I really enjoy riding and racing new tracks and also love revisiting the classics too so a good mix each year keeps it all fresh.
Sam Blenkinsop: It’s cool that there are two new venues, I like going to new places so you don’t know what the track will be like. You get a bit sick of riding the same track year after year.
Andrew Neethling: It is great to have fresh venues. I would love to see new venues. It adds to the excitement for the riders and fans.
Brendan Fairclough: Always good to see new blood and new tracks, looking forward to seeing what they’re like.
What would be your ideal track? What type of track do you feel your skillset and style is best matched to?
Aaron Gwin: Something wide-open down a ski run with massive jumps, in California without a drop of rain. That sounds like a good ol time. Haha!
Greg Minnaar: My ideal track, is fast with natural jumps, rutted corners, big open grassy turns, 5min in time with a 10min open chair lift back to the top…Ow ya and no lines at the lift station.
Gee Atherton: I feel like I can switch between any track on the world cup circuit, I think to only be able to race on a certain type of track will always hinder you when you are racing to win a championship, so I would always choose a venue that was in a good position for the fans to help the sport grow.
Danny Hart: Last year my true potential if you asked me, showed on the big flat out fast tracks, I love going fast on the rough tracks, Fort William is my favourite. Maybe because I have rode a lot on Moto X, but then Champery is the total other end of the scale, tight, technical, you have to be nigh-on perfect on every line, and every run down there was a challenge but great fun, especially with the jumps at the bottom.
Steve Smith: Val di Sole! I love technical racing and feel it’s where I can shine. If we could throw some MSA wide open in there with a little Leogang for scratching off the non-trainers I’d be in love.
Brook MacDonald: I really enjoy Mont Sainte Anne as it is just wide open pinned turns and rough, suits my style for been on flats for sure.
Cam Cole: I think the MSA/Fort William style is good for me being fit and strong and having the size to be able to carry speed. I think each race is different so if you turn up on the day you can do good on any track no matter what anyone thinks a particular style or skill set may seem to be the best for that track.
Troy Brosnan: I love Champery, just being light and skimming down the track and staying out of the mud!
Justin Leov: A longer version of Maribor or Schladming, but 7- 10 mins worth with a couple of physical straights. Bring on some lengthy downhill races!
Josh Bryceland: Probably a mixture of technical wooded tracks and some tricky jumps.
Steve Peat: Give me some fast, speed carrying old school shit any day of the week.
Andrew Neethling: I feel I have pretty rounded skill set. I have made improvements on the longer tracks but the little bit shorter ones seem to suit me a little bit better. Anything with flow, technical, jumps and also holding your speed would probably work well for me.
Brendan Fairclough: Maybe Champery or Schladming type tracks. Physical and steep. Jumps are very important as well as loam, roost and sick turns. A sick crowd and decent town with good food help a lot too. Maybe throw some hot chicks in there too.
Lastly, what fact do most people not know about you?
Aaron Gwin: That’s a good question! I’m not sure actually, I don’t hide things very well.
Danny Hart: I entered and was enjoying a road race the other week, until I punctured.
Steve Smith: My first bike was bought for me by my grandma. She paid him with a years worth of apple pies. I also like skipping ropes and hop scotch.
Brook MacDonald: I’m a jockey…
Cam Cole: I am 24 in 2012. Most people think I am older. I hope we have cleared that up.
Justin Leov: The amount of 6-10th place finishes in World Cups I’ve had!
Josh Bryceland: Roundabouts
Steve Peat: I’m too busy to do any training these days, it’s all fed off experience!!! Ha ha ha bring on the season!!!
Sam Blenkinsop: I don’t like doing interviews I would rather be on my bike or jet ski having fun with friends.
Brendan Fairclough: I’m very chilled, enjoy motor bikes and anything with a motor that goes fast in the mud, had 5 surgeries this year, like air time, enjoy living the dream, hard worker when I need to be, dedicated to my profession, prone to a party here and there, and finally wish I could ride around a Supercross track with venom.