Rachel Atherton: into the unknown
What next for the best of the best?
Rachel Atherton is charging toward another World Cup title. After setting a new world record at the last stop in Leogang, the Brit is gearing up for her next win at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Lenzerheide. Looking ahead Rachel took the time to talk about the competition, the course and the rising pressure of expectations. Red Bull TV will be broadcasting the downhill action in Lenzerheide on Saturday from 2.30pm CEST.
Words: Julia Renner Photos: Seb Schiek
Last year’s win in Lenzerheide was your third of the streak, which led you to set a new world record in Leogang. What are the chances of you winning your eleventh race in a row in Lenzerheide this year?
I try to race each race like its my first, not thinking about what has gone before, good or bad… but it’s hard, even harder now when people keep asking, whether you can win 10 or 11 in a row. I wish they wouldn’t! When you are in that start-gate it doesn’t matter whether you won by 20 seconds last time out or crashed three times on the way down, none of that can affect your race today.
After the race in Leogang you said that you are really pushed to the limit in order to win, because the level of riding is so balanced. Who do you see as your biggest contestant in Lenzerheide this year?
All of the girls are getting faster and stronger all the time. I feel like I have to constantly up my game to stay out in front. The British girls Manon Carpenter and Tahnee Seagrave are constantly pushing me, Tracey Hannah is on red-hot form and now we’ve got Miranda Miller in the mix. I take nothing for granted; any one of them could take the win.
How difficult is it to compete, when the expectations of fans and media rise from win to win?
It definitely adds to the nerves… It’s fair to say I’m more nervous when I race now, than when I started out. I can remember singing AC/DC in the start-gate and people telling me to shut up, now I’m more likely to be being sick! It’s just another challenge to overcome I guess, I try not to think about it!
The course in Lenzerheide has not changed much this year. Which part are you looking forward to most?
The jumps! They are such fun. Last year all I could think about was that doom drop half way through the woods section, it was massive! Every run I was obsessing about whether I’d be able to ride it – hopefully it won’t be so hard this year!
Which sections fit to your riding style best?
Definitely the rock garden. The Lenzerheide jumps are fun, but I sometimes get a bit scared of them. I always love the really rocky stuff, the more technical the better!
You have set a new world record and are well ahead in the World Cup standings this year. What goal have you set yourself to keep motivated in future?
Well I’ve never had a “clean sweep" of World Cup wins through the whole season, or won back-to-back World Championships so both of those are a massive target.
Are you ready to get stoked? Check out this clip! The team in Lenzerheide has planned every small detail, so that your mountain biking weekend will be one to remember. Tickets are also still on sale online or on-site.
Information about the region: http://lenzerheide.com/en