You have come to South Africa for a quick training trip: Have you been here before?
What is your favourite trail here and how do they compare to back home?
I like Jonkershoek. Every trail is awesome, and G-spot is really great too. I only have my mountain bike here, I didn’t bring my road bike. I don’t feel safe enough on the roads here, and there are such good opportunities with the trails around Stellenbosch.
The trails here are very loose and dusty. In Switzerland, the trails are much more grippy, with hard pack terrain. It’s good skills practice here. It is also quite similar to the conditions in Cairns, Australia where the World Championships will be held this year.
You are not doing the Cape Epic this year. Does a big stage race like the Epic affect your season afterwards?
You started Tankwa Trek but were not able to complete it: what happened?
The Swiss have so many good mountain bikers: where did they all come from, and how do you guys manage to fight it out for positions in teams and spots at races?
You have also competed successfully in cyclocross successfully in the past. Do you prefer XCO or cyclocross?
How long have you been racing XCO? How has the sport changed since you started?
In terms of bikes, the wheel size has changed, the suspension has changed a bit. Ninety percent of the time I race with my full suspension, BMC Fourstroke and not the Teamelite hardtail. I have always preferred full suspension, in 2008 I was already doing most races on a full suspension. For about 2 years after the switch to 29ers, everyone was hesitant to race full suspension 29ers because of the extra weight of the bigger wheels. Now tyres and wheels have improved and gotten lighter, and courses have gotten so technical that most riders now race full suspension.
We notice that you have a dropper seat post on your training bike. Do you race with a dropper post?
What races will you be targeting for 2017?
The longer races suit me. I hate the fast starts in cross country. The first part of cross country is really not for me, but you have to hang on. Previously when races were a little longer the pace would slow down after one or two laps and you could make up places. Right now if you are not in the top 20 after the start it is almost impossible to have a top 5 finish.
Bike check: BMC Fourstroke 01
Tell us about the setup on the training bike you have here: Do you make any major changes to the stock model?
For cross country, I mostly ride with a single ring on the front but for training and marathon, I usually prefer two chainrings. This year I have a shorter stem and wider handlebars than in previous years. It changes the feel of the bike and is something I have had to get used to but definitely improves the handling in technical terrain.
Here in South Africa we have to really adjust with the tyres. For the first two days everybody is flatting everywhere, and then we change to more robust tyres. I was riding Vittoria AKA, but they are too light for the conditions here. I have put on Saguaros and have not had a flat for two weeks now, and they are nice and grippy. The AKA are fine for cross country racing, but for something like the Cape Epic you need a stronger tyre and you don’t need to worry so much about the weight.
- FrameBMC Fourstroke 01
- ForkFox 32 SC Factory Series iRD FIT
- Rear shockFox Float Factory Series iRD
- WheelsetShimano XTR
- CranksetShimano XTR with Stages crankarm
- CassetteShimano XTR
- ShiftersShimano XTR Di2
- Front DerailleurShimano XTR Di2
- Rear DerailleurShimano XTR Di2
- BrakesetShimano XTR
- RotorShimano XTR CenterLock
- Handlebars3T Exsero Team Carbon
- Stem3T ARX II 90mm
- TyresVittoria Saguaro 29x2.2
- SaddleFizik Antares 00
- SeatpostYep Uptimizer
- Bottle cageElite Cannibal