Sights set firmly on the 2024 Olympics
The Bart Brentjens Mountain Bike Racing Team
“Top-class sport enriches our lives,” says Bart Brentjens. He was the first Olympic mountain bike gold medallist to write history in 1996. A few years ago, the Dutchman founded the Brentjens Mountain Bike Racing Team, one of the best UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) mountain bike teams in the world. Following successful participation in the Tokyo Olympic Games, the focus is now on the 2024 Paris Games. Team manager Brentjens explains how the top athletes prepare for this and what is important.
The path to the Olympics is carefully mapped out with specific training programmes. Our athletes train 20 to 25 hours a week in winter to improve their basic fitness and strength. In addition to participating in international UCI World Cup races, we also compete for podium places at national, European and world championships.
In order to qualify for their country, athletes must win UCI points, for example in the World Cups. The top eight countries get two starting places, all the others get one. A total of 36 riders per category will participate in the Olympic Games. This sets the bar very high for us, especially if you only have one or two starting places.
Our technical trainer defines the ideal course together with the riders. This is important because there are some very technical descents. They assess the jumps, drops and rocky descents and give our athletes instructions on how to best manage the course.
We consciously rely on a young mixed team. Our riders have their own trainer who takes care of them individually. They also go out on regular team bike rides based on special training plans. The sense of community is enhanced with team building activities or we all cook together.
#Physical and mental state
We measure the athletes’ performance and heart rate and ensure that they have a healthy diet and get sufficient sleep. It is also important to be mentally strong. Often it is the riders’ mental state that decides who wins. That’s why we try to give our cyclists as much confidence as possible.
The riders travel from race to race and these trips demand a lot of energy. In addition to smooth logistics, we ensure that the team is well looked after. The athletes must be able to relax and have a pleasant stay.
The material is very important in order to be at the forefront. The tyre pressure, type of tyres, frame geometry, fork or suspension settings – all of these are individually adjusted and determine to a large extent the chances of victory. It is not without good reason that we have three mechanics at the world championships.
Top-class sport would not be possible without sponsors. I am very grateful that companies see added value in this and identify with us. In return, we provide visibility for the brand, but also feedback. Many SKS products are used almost daily, such as the AIRCHECKER, pumps, mudguards and tools. This allows us to use professional accessories that will bring us one step closer to our big “Olympics” goal.
Photos: Vincent Engel, Marcelo Rypl