Team Lapierre International rider Cam Cole to sit out the first round of 2012 UCI Downhill MTB World Cup series to be held at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa this weekend.
The decision to sit out the opening round of the 2012 UCI World Cup series was not any easy one for Kiwi downhill racer, Cameron Cole, who broke his wrist completely through during the Downhill World Championships last September.
“It has been a long time since I have been able to ride a mountain bike – I only got back on a cross-country bike two weeks ago – just light riding,” explains 24-year-old Cole.
It was at the 2011 World Championships held in September at Champery, Switzerland, that Cole broke his wrist after a fall in a practise run. Ironically, it was only 100m from where he’d fallen the previous year during a World Cup round, which resulted in a broken scaphoid.
Summer in his hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand, has been all about recovery for Cole who rides for Team Lapierre International.
“I have been training hard since November – I have been able to run, swim, go to the gym and ride the road bike, so I have a good base, but I need to bring some power and sport-specific elements to my training now,” smiles Cole.
He expects to ride his downhill bike in the next few weeks – the first time since his crash at Champery. This will give him a few months before his first World Cup race to raise the intensity required to compete at the highest level.
“I am not race-ready mentally or physically,” he offers.
“I have not spent any time on the bike, so I don’t have a choice here. I am a racer and I want to test myself every time I go out, but I need to be ready. I need these two weeks here in New Zealand to keep my recovery on track. I want to be 100% and strong when I get back on the bike.”
For 2012, Cole is joined on the Team Lapierre International Team by a new mechanic: his good friend Matt Clark “otherwise known as Snowy”. Cole will join teammate and fellow Kiwi Sam Blenkinsop, of Wanganui, on the team that also includes Patrick Thome and Loic Bruni and is mentored by one of the sport’s most respected riders: Nicolas Vouilloz.
When aksed about the magnitude of missing the first round, Cole is quick to put the season into perspective.
“The only change for me will be that I won’t be Top-80 in the practise for the second World Cup, so I will have to get up earlier and will get a little less practise time.”
“I will be one of the early ones to qualify and then hopefully from there I will be in the Top-80 or Top-20 from there on in and then I will be protected for qualifying as well.”
He had only failed to qualify for one World Cup ever – “I was sick with some kind of swine flu, so my record is pretty good”, he said.
“Missing out on the points from this first round doesn’t worry me – I will make it up later on, it has been done before. I just want to win races,” he added.
There are two big events in the elite echelon of downhill racing: The UCI World Cup Series made up of seven rounds and the UCI World Championship, which is a one-off event and will be held at Leogang, Austria in September.
“The World Championships have become more of a focus for me for the next three years,” shares Cole.
“It’s a pinnacle event for mountain biking. The track at Leogang has been good for me in the past – it’s where I had my second podium so I am very excited about racing there at the start of September.”
Throughout the summer, Cole has been working hard with his new coach: Katherine Prumm, herself a multi-World Motocross Champion.
“I guess change is motivating – I have been on some good training that is more specific to my sport and I feel like I have made gains through that,” he begins.
“I haven’t been as tired as much – I’ve had the opportunity to recover between training sessions and I feel like that has allowed me to make gains. I feel like I am now doing the right training with the right structure.”
“Katherine has been a world-class athlete herself in motocross – it is hard to find someone who has both the knowledge and the experience. Motocross is a little bit longer duration than downhill, but otherwise there are a lot of similarities – you can’t buy that kind of experience.”
Prumm is no stranger to recovering from injury and has been able to keep Cole on track throughout an off-season completely devoid of any downhill riding.
“She’s good on the psyche side and has helped to keep me positive and focused,” he explains.
“It seems like a lot of the mental side comes from knowing that you have done everything in your control that you can do to prepare and from there it is just a matter of letting the race happen.”