Interview: Manon Carpenter ahead of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill round one

Interview: Manon Carpenter ahead of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill round one

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The GoPro footage still makes Manon Carpenter smile. Six months on from winning a first senior world title in Norway, life has been a whirlwind for the 22-year-old Welshwoman.

But between public appearances, award ceremonies and coaching sessions, season preparations have varied little in 12 months, as Manon sets about the defence of her UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

As world cup series and world champion in 2014, Carpenter has reached the pinnacle of downhill mountain biking.

Achieving success only matched by Rachel Atherton, Sabrina Jonnier and Anne-Caroline Chausson has Carpenter conclude that “the pressure is off”, but that is contrasted when she starts looking ahead.

“I wanted to win the world championships when I was relatively young – I didn’t want to take ages to do it.

“But I feel like I still want to prove myself this year, prove my stripes and do them justice. I’m definitely ready to go racing now.”

Winter training

Away from the pressures of racing and sponsor commitments, Carpenter has enjoyed the sanctuary of winter.

She says she rarely needs motivating to train, with measurable gains throughout winter measured on the bike and in the gym.

“I’m feeling ready to go but haven’t had time to dwell on it really” says Manon, when reviewing her off-season.

“In January racing felt a long way off, but since then I haven’t been home much, we’ve had a couple of long training camps and now it’s time.”

When Manon returns to the world cup start hut in Lourdes, France on Sunday, she hopes to pick up from where she left off in September – having won a world championship, by way of perfect preparation.

“Definitely something clicked in Norway” Carpenter said of her last international race.

“I was in such a good place at the top of the hill. I know my weakness is the start of the track; I get progressively faster as I relax. In Norway I got myself in a good place to go for it straight out of the gate. So more than setting result goals, I just want to get to that place more often and that will bring me good race runs.”

If that sounds a little cold and separated from the instinct and exuberance of winning downhill races, be assured that while the execution of the perfect race run is emotionless, the after effect is huge.

“After winning the world champs I was high on excitement for three months. I only found the GoPro of my run again in December.

“I haven’t watched it that often, but every time I do watch it, it makes me smile. Especially the ending. And it still looks so fast. I still think it’s sped up, but it’s not.

“I still like watching it back; I might watch it this week actually. That’s a good idea.”

You can watch Manon race at round one of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill live on Sunday here.