We speak to the Australian mountain bike star about his start to the year and season aims…
We’ve teamed up with Dainese to shine a spotlight on luminaries from across the world of action sports and adventure. Here, we speak to Troy Brosnan, the Australian mountain biker who finished second place in the overall World Cup rankings in 2017, and is looking to go one better this time around.
Lead photograph by Seb Schieck
“It’s a pretty easy one for me,” says downhill mountain bike star Troy Brosnan, on his aims for the season ahead. “I was third overall in the World Cup for three years in a row, then finished second last year, so there’s only one more spot I want to go for.
“I want to fight for that number one position and I really believe I can. It’s just about taking it race by race and trying to win each one. It’s going to be a good season.”
We’re speaking to the Australian national champion a couple of days after he rode his Canyon Sender to ninth place in Lošinj, Croatia, the first stop on the downhill World Cup circuit for 2018.
Troy put in a smooth run on the sun-soaked island track, possibly too smooth to fulfil his ambitions of capitalising on his potential and consistency to win the overall World Cup title.
“It was a tough weekend,” he says. “The track was really different to most World Cups. It actually felt a little like home – though maybe with a couple more rocks than normal!
“I was feeling pretty fast and qualified fourth but somewhere through race day I guess I wasn’t pushing as hard, or at the same level as the guys up there on the podium. I feel like my lines and my speed were good but maybe I just wasn’t on the edge enough.”
Troy is one of the most consistent riders on the World Cup circuit. Since the start of 2013, he’s raced 35 World Cup events and only finished outside the top 20 once. Only four of those top 20s have been outside the top 10, and the vast majority have been podium spots. He’s never finished outside the top 10 in the World Championships during that period, either.
“It’s something that I really like, staying consistent and being in the top 10 or the top 20 in every race, but I also want to win races”
“Maybe it’s my riding style that helps me do that,” he says. “It could also just be preparing things in the off season and also with all the years that go by I learn how to push the limits when I need to and save a little on certain sections when you don’t need to push.
“I think it’s a tough one overall. It’s something that I really like, staying consistent and being in the top 10 or the top 20 in every race, but I also want to win races.”
Despite yet another top 10 finish to start the season in Lošinj, Troy is well aware that if he’s going to be number one come the end of the year, he’s going to have to raise the bar.
“I was watching my run and I thought I looked a little too smooth and maybe reserved on the track. So I guess that’s something that I’m a little bit disappointed with myself in, that I didn’t go harder and faster, but it’s given me a bit more of a drive to go out there and do that.
“It’s always harder, especially for me, going to a brand new World Cup track. Trying to learn a track and then having the confidence to really go fast and choose lines, that takes time. Especially for me. I seem to be a slightly slower learner when it comes to new tracks but all of the tracks coming up now I’ve been to before and I know them like the back of my hand.
“I’m pretty excited just to get there and start riding at the pace that I should be riding at. This year I want to take some more chances – especially on the tracks that I know really well.”
It’s tough to call a ninth place finish at elite level a misstep, but whatever the reason for Troy finishing +3.211 off the pace of his once Specialized-teammate Aaron Gwin, it’s not for a lack of preparation.
Brosnan has been on the saddle of a Sender and at the head of the Canyon Factory Team for over a year now, and he’s gone from strength to strength in that time. He’s played a firm role in establishing the Canyon team on the circuit, and now Troy’s ready to take the team to new heights.
“Canyon originally came to me stoked to build a team up from the ground up and have a team on the circuit with their bike and try and get World Cup wins and Championships and Overalls,” he remembers. “It was pretty awesome that they shouted out to me.
“I have been pretty involved with the team – the sponsors that we chose, and in getting Mark [Wallace] and Ruaridh [Cunningham] on board and now Kye [A’Hern], the new junior. It’s been a massive team effort, though.
“Our goal [over the off-season] was just to actually try and dial the bike a little bit more. My fitness was pretty good and my strength was pretty good, we just wanted to spend another chunk of time getting the new bike dialled in.
“We had one year on the new Canyon, so it was trying to learn about it and make it go as fast as it can go. It was already really good last year but we wanted to go even faster.
He adds: “I’ve started to shorten the length of my trail rides and do some high intensity stuff for four or five minutes long. I can ride at about 100 percent intensity for about four minutes but that’s all I’ve got. Hopefully all the tracks are around four minutes long!”
Brosnan also emphasises the importance of having such a talented team at Canyon, pointing to the role of three-time World Champion Fabien Barel as the team director.
“It’s been great having Fabien. He’s like a guide and a coach in a way. He’s been helpful on the technical side where he can give you his knowledge and what he’s learned over the years and I can put that forward to learn quicker and try and not make the same mistakes.
“He’s definitely had an impact. There are a few things that he’s got up his sleeve that we can use. And Mark is a top 10 overall in the world from last year and riding super fast. The more we can help each other the faster we’re both going to go, on and off the track.”
Troy fancies his chances of getting back on the podium as the World Cup rolls back around to more familiar venues in the next few months.
Next up is the Fort William World Cup on 3 June, where Brosnan took his first ever World Cup win way back in 2014. He knows the course and is eyeing up another medal in the Scottish Highlands.
“I know I can go to Fort William and be in contention and win at Fort William,” he says.
“I’m definitely confident. The bike is actually set up and really dialled for Fort William. Not so much for Croatia. I guess Croatia’s track kind of caught me off guard with our bike set up but I know deep down that the track that I’ve been riding at home, and the stuff that we’ve been testing has been grooved towards a World Cup track like Fort William or Leogang or Andorra.
“I’m really excited. I don’t feel like we need to change too much. For the tracks coming up we’re dialled in and we can do really well there. We’re ready to go.”
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