Interview by Superfly Si PatonThe cat is out of the bag and Danny Hart is on the MS Mondraker team for the next three years. Pinkbike went direct to get the full story of what went down and why. Giant had three Elite riders on their roster with Marcelo, Andrew and yourself. Marcelo beat you three out of five times, position wise, on the World Cup circuit. When looking at the five times combined, you were 7 seconds faster than him overall, so overall you were more consistent, and you scored two, top five podiums. Andrew was the weakest of the three of you coming in on average 4 seconds behind your times. Therefore on paper you were the strongest rider, so why do you think they kept Marcelo and let yourself and Andrew go?
Wow, lots of maths there, good work! For myself I think it was time to move on, I feel I had served my time well at Giant, helping them build their program to what it is now. As well, the full team at Giant helped me achieve what I have in the past five years. The team have an up and coming rider in Alex Marin, the kid has got skills and I hope the team can help him like they helped me! Looking at your results for 2014 has been a roller coaster season for you with two third places and a seventh at the UCI World Cups. The other results there have not been so successful. What do you put those highs and lows down to?
Yeah this year did definitely have lots of up and downs for me, the start of the year was tragic. I went to South Africa off a good winter of training and putting out higher numbers in training than I ever had before. I went there and got really ill, nearly deciding not to race because I wasn't sleeping and suffered from a really bad fever, feeling drained and really under the weather. Therefore round one was a write off for me...
Then Cairns just didn't happen for me, I really struggled as my head was not in a good place. In the race I was riding well and ended up crashing out which ruled that race out. I also crashed at Windham, I was riding really well there, however I knew I had to push really hard to get a good result with the track being a short one. I pushed the bike and myself just that little bit too much, lost the front wheel in a corner, and the weekend was over. The rest of the year was quite consistent having two 7ths and two 3rds. When did you put yourself out in the market as a free agent?
To be honest we started quite soon, my father and manager, Paul Hart was talking to teams halfway way through the 2014 race season. As there are only a set number of teams there is only a limited number of slots available so we had to ask around. It was no surprise to all the team managers that we would be asking as they knew that it was a contract year so luckily there was quite a lot of interest. Rumours have been rife regards you going to either Intense, KTM or indeed MS Mondraker. There is generally 'No smoke without fire', were you in talks with any of those companies? How do these rumours get out?
To be honest, I love reading all the rumours online, especially the comments on Pinkbike. Let me tell you this, I was never in contact with KTM, people saw me riding a KTM out in the USA, so that means I'm riding for them, right? Ha ha... Bench racing at its best! What are Mondraker expecting of you in contract and in person?
Mondraker will want me to be pretty much everywhere I would have wanted to be, I have never done an iXS Cup in Europe so that will be cool to get a few of them in. I will try and do as many BDS events as I can. Obviously World Cups and World Champs are on the primary list. I would like to do Crankworx in Canada, but that is not at the top of the team's list, I will try and get there though.Editor's note:
Mondraker do not currently have a North American distributor. Who are your new team mates on the Mondraker team?
Yeah moving to the new MS Mondraker team I obviously have new team mates; Emmeline Ragot, Markus Pekoll and Innes Graham, I have never worked with these guys before, I spent time with Innes and Markus at the team launch in Spain and we all had a great time together, bonding well. Emmeline was not there so I am looking forward to travelling with her and the rest of the team. She speaks very good English and seems to have a laugh, so yeah it will all be good fun. Hopefully I can help pull Innes through to be a top Senior rider whilst I believe I can learn from Markus because he is a very focused rider and I like what I see with him. Dave Garland has been your mechanic for the last three years, will he be joining you?
I have worked with Dave for a few years now and I have to say he has taught me a lot about how to set up a bike! I have a lot to thank him for. I am looking forward to working with my new mechanic Christian, I have seen him on the race circuit for a few years and I know he has worked with the top riders and won big races with those riders. I know that he knows what to do and when to do it - he has seen and done it all. With regards to set up, what personal preferences will your spanner man have to deliver?
To be fair it is going to be an important few months testing with me now moving over to a different suspension set up, different handle bars and most likely different wheels. I personally like a handlebar with a nice back sweep to keep my body weight more central on the bike with a 780mm width. We will be using SRAM drive train and I am really happy about that as I love those guys' work. That will be a seven speed rear set up changing between 36 and 38 teeth chain rings up front. I will have my own suspension guy at the World Cups in the shape of Pedro from Marzocchi, he drinks a lot of Red Bull and is an all round good guy. On the whole I am really looking forward to the new project! What new sponsors have you picked up to run in conjunction with your new MS Mondraker team?
Bell Helmets, Alpinestars Race Kit, Leatt Neck Braces, Fenwicks Cleaner, 5.10 Shoes, Oakley and High5. When and where did you first sit on and test a Mondraker?
I went ‘Dark’ in September to a super cool ski resort called Hopfgarten in Austria. Being on a strict media shut down with the likes of Facebook and Twitter etc.. I could not talk to anyone, even limiting the times I could take my helmet off when we were on the lifts and the track. I rode the bike for a couple of days and it rained all day both days. It was weird because I could not put anything online and the track I was riding was sick, I just wanted to put a helmet cam run online for you all to see. More recently I have been riding the Mondraker at Hamsterley Forest which is my local track. A few early morning mid week rides clocking a few runs in, again all on the quiet. Will you be running a stock frame that is available to the public?
Currently I am just running a stock medium frame, we haven't tested properly yet so who knows what might happen in the near future. What size frame will you be running?
At 5'10" I ride a medium. Which of the UCI World Cups tracks in 2015 do you most favour to pick up your first World Cup win?
Nevis Range, Fort William in Scotland. On behalf of Pinkbike and all our readers we wish Danny a safe and successful 2015. Stay up to date with Danny
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