Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 28

it’s becoming more and more enjoyable on every trip. At the World Cup in March, many MTB fans watching you hang on to, and then start tussling with, Nino (the greatest MTBer in history) assumed you may be “a flash in the pan” or catching Nino on a bad day. But those in the know, like your coach on the day Christoph Sauser, predicted you’d take him to the wire. While you were sitting in the start chute, four rows back, behind huge names like Absolon, Kulhavy and Van der Poel, did you feel that it may be your day to win? A lot of work has gone into getting to where I am, of course it’s always daunting to think I can achieve a result like that. I operate at my best not being results driven, but rather performance driven. I knew if I focused on being the best I could then eventuate it into a good result. Of course, when it’s your first big result there is a shock, but I am prepared to carry on the work and try be as consistent as possible. Those who knew you were the dark horse, referred to your past records of not only U23 World Champion status but a host of podium places mixed in among some DNFs it’s been a rocky path to get to a result like in Stellenbosch, but I believe that with every moment of adversity I’ve learnt a little more about myself. The headaches have been solved and along with that comes a lot more confidence in myself to perform. I don’t see myself a changed man from last year, but instead of being out of control and all over the show, I’ve managed to bottle things and begin to find that last bit I needed to get the results. Christoph told me on lap four at the WC that if it came down to a sprint you’d win. He said your explosive “ I OPERATE AT MY BEST NOT BEING RESULTS DRIVEN BUT RATHER PERFORMANCE DRIVEN.” and low placings. Clearly at only 22 you have the talent, skill and speed to race with anyone, and a bright future, but it’s known that you have had some personal and physical issues to deal with that have affected you in recent years. Tell us about those, are the headaches sorted and life in general settling down? Yes of course, 28 | MTB | kiwi kahunas power on the track was amazing, and two laps later he smiled knowingly as Nino slammed his bars in frustration. We asked a few top riders after the race if the unclipped pedal had changed the result, most said no, it was yours over that short distance having cornered first. Are you more likely to race more tactically for the sprint in future or was that too close for comfort? It’s interesting, of course it was a shame for Nino to suffer that problem. And I won’t sit here and say I would have won 10 times over in the same situation, because I truly don’t know how that would have changed things. I would like to think I had done enough to win, but there are more races and undoubtedly we will sprint for a win again in our careers. I will try as best I can in races, but sometimes the level is so close in this sport that it becomes impossible to drop each other. fived you, we must add, you ended up in the embrace of your SA Manager, Kandice Venter, and seemed to find your first moment of peaceful sanctuary. Clearly you have formed a strong bond. Is it like having a big sister on tour? Ha ha, Kandice is more like a mother figure to all of us in the team, she does an exceptional job to support us all and I am glad she has been a part of all my major results in the sport. Specialized Racing is developing a real family feeling to it, which makes the motivation to succeed a lot easier to find. After the finish you lay broken on the grass, eyes glazed over and a cramp- inspired grimace on your face, but very soon as the swarm of cameras clicked away, the agony was replaced with a deep rooted warm smile of satisfaction. You were beyond stoked! Describe those moments for us. Oh it was incredible, something I’d always dreamt of. It was a state of shock for the first few hours. Once it sunk in, I was over the moon. Your eyes were bloodshot and you barely managed a smile on the awards podium, clearly still suffering from exhaustion and cramp. That was the parting vision for us spectators and TV viewers, but then the unexpected happened. I had just finished riding the Cape Town Cycle Tour when I heard that you’d narrowly lost a bunch sprint into 2nd place. Whaaat??! How?! I asked. Clearly this guy is a super talent, and listening to Christoph it was actually a surprise that Nolan managed to hold you off having got there. Surely that was a surprise even When you limped to the winner’s circle past Nino, who respectfully high-