Oliver ZwarI get to know another one of the winners of Wyn Masters' Privateer of the Week prize, Oliver Zwar. Oliver is spending the summer in Europe racing World Cups with his brother Ben and has made it through to three finals so far including a top 30 in Maribor. In Les Gets, Oliver was racing with a broken hand and still qualified, ending the race in 37th on a flat-out track. We caught up with Olly to chat about his season in Europe, life on the road with his brother and the Sam Hill section that got him into mountain biking:
Half Swedish, half Australian.
Where are you from and where do you live?
I'm from a small town called Yackandandah which is 3 hours north of Melbourne.
How did you get into mountain biking?
I grew up racing motocross and around the age of 13-14 I was starting to get quite burned out. I was at a family friends house and on the TV was Sam Hill's Tipping Point section. Instantly I fell in love and did my first race that next year.
Who do you ride for?
My brother and I have made our own little privateer team in Australia and we go by Zwar Brothers Racing. We have some support from Lusty Industries, Maxxis Tyres, DT Swiss Aus, Fox Aus, Knobby Underwear, Fist Gloves and Cycle Station Albury
What bikes are you riding right now?
Currently riding a Santa Cruz V10 alongside a Santa Cruz Hightower.
Do you have a job outside of mountain biking?
I was working as an apprentice carpenter, but with all the travelling planned I've had to put the handbrake on that for the moment. I help my dad with the family pool business and also work as a bike mechanic at Cycle Station Albury.
What are your strengths?
Organisation and attention to detail.
What are your weaknesses?
What made you commit to a full season in Europe this year?
Over the past three years, I had only ever done 2-3 World Cups a year, and with having a few decent results with not much preparation I thought, why not fully commit to training in the offseason, save up as much as I can and try to do the whole season and see how I go?
How is it travelling around and racing with your brother?
It has honestly been a lot of fun, Benny and I are very close and after a while you know what things to do and what not do but sometimes you just do it anyway to stir the pot! Racing with him is really good too, we are quite similar in speed so it's good to have someone to train and ride with that will push you.
Do you think it’s harder for southern hemisphere riders to break through into World Cups?
Yes I think so. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time in Sweden when I was younger so for me being in a foreign country with different food and language is normal, but I have had friends from Australia come over to Europe and struggled because it is just SOO different to back home.
What are the struggles of being a privateer that people might not realise?
One of the biggest struggles I find is trying to keep your bike as fresh as possible during a race weekend. It's a long way to go to have a small mechanical so I spend a lot of time on my bike between practice sessions. Also trying to find or buy parts when you break them is quite a challenge. Some brands are willing to help but others won't even give you a minute of their time. The most challenging aspect of being a privateer is just the logistics.
What’s been your worst crash over the years?
Fort William 2016, crashed on the final jump. Went over the bars and headfirst into the ground. Martin Maes and George Brannigan went over the bars on the same jump so it made me feel less embarrassed!
Where’s your favourite place to ride?
Hafjell would be one of my favourites, along with the usuals like Morzine and Schladming
What’s your favourite non-bike website?
Netflix is a website, isn't it??
What’s your favourite motto or saying?
'Focus on you, until the focus is on you"
What makes you happy?
Again, Swedish Fika
How do you want to be remembered?
I'd like to be noticed first, haha! But I'd like to be remembered as a role model for some young Aussies wanting to go overseas and just have a go!
What does the future hold for Olly Zwar?
At this stage, do the rest of the World Cups and hope to make the Australian team for World Champs this year. Then go back home, work, save as much as I can and do it all over again next year.