Marc Beaumont has been racing and winning UCI World Cups for long enough to have seen the changes and trends come and go. In the second part of our interview he tells us that it's not all been plain sailing.
What do you think of he current standard of World Cup tracks?
I think of the quality and the depth of the sport at the minute with a second separating ten guys and we’re in Leogang predominantly racing down a Bike Park. To me that is not 'World Cup DH' at all and I don’t think it really matters if it’s a Bike Park or the gnarliest ever DH track, there’ll still be people stacked in becasue the quality is that good. For me, the suspension is evolving and is now so good and the bikes are the same and they’re leaning towards rougher and rougher terrain. I think that the tracks need to be driven forward so that it is technical and hard.
We came here in 2010 and in my opinion, it’s got easier. Mont St-Anne too, I went there when I was a 16 year-old and my hands were covered in blisters. It was technical top to the bottom, it still had those high-speed sections but you were back into technical woods. I think the sport is missing that.
Why do you think that’s happening?
I guess it helps promote their bike park. But surely it can still be here and on a different, more technical track and still support the bike park?! I think Andorra had the right idea - it was steep and gnarly. Val Di Sole is a very unique track and Maribor and Schladming back in the day were gnarly the whole way down... I don’t know, I’d just like to see a bit more of a challenge.
What do you think of Pietermaritzburg then?
I think it’s unique. Pedalling is obviously a part of our sport now - everyone is doing their sprints, having power tests, lactic tolerance tests, it’s become more of a science. The unique thing about that track is that it’s incredibly high speed, the average speed is ridiculous.
They are pushing the limits on jumping too - we’re pushing 65ft in some places which is a hell of a long way on a bicycle when you’re pinned in top gear.
I think it has it’s place. It’s nice to take the sport to the southern hemisphere, it’s probably done the sport no end of good. Everyone is in the same boat but I don’t think it looks good when there are people riding all mountain bikes in what is our premier event of the year. It’s the DH Worlds and they should be on DH bikes because the course warrants it. In the past I don’t think people would have got away with riding a smaller bike. I don’t like to see that but I do think that the place is unique.
How’re you getting on with the new GT Fury?
It’s really good. That is obviously after analysing my year as being average and not having anything to shout about at the World Cups but I think it’s taken me longer to adapt to the new bike that I thought it would. We tested the bike, the very first version, in October of 2012. Then we had them by February, the blacked out version we had was exactly the same as the version we have now.
Were you involved in developing it much?
Yeah, that was a hard thing for me. Because Gee, Rach and Dan have all worked on building a specific bike for them with Commencal, I’ve never really had that option. My old Santa Cruz was just given to me, then when I rode the carbon fibre version it was sort of, ‘well, it’s made in a mould so here you go’. There was no way I could adapt anything on that bike.
You used a lot of things like adjustable headsets etc on that bike, didn’t you?
Yeah, we had to engineer it at the races, if you like. We used stuff like off-set cups and off-set bushings to get what I wanted out of it and get comfortable and obviously it worked as I was successful on that bike. Coming on to the new Fury, it’s geometry has changed a lot. A lot of the bikes have changed now with longer front ends and slightly shorter back ends.
I have pretty much a direct mount stem on my bike, it was a massive change running a 30mm stem and a longer top tube and being encouraged to ride a bike like that - it was so different to anything that I’d raced and been successful on in the past.
I’d always been successful on shorter bikes, I’m not that tall. It’s certainly been a good learning curve though. Body position on the bike, I think I used to have to exagerated my movements a lot. It wasn’t uncommon to have my seat in front of me and be way over the rear tyre, I now don’t need to do that so much. I can be more neutral and let the bike do the work a bit more.