Interview: Martin Maes Discusses His Plans for 2019

Oct 17, 2018
by Sarah Moore  
Martin Maes race was over before it had really begun. A crash on the opening stage resulted in an injured wrist forcing the Belgian to limp home.

GT Bicycles just announced that Martin Maes will be riding for them again in 2019, and so we sent the Belgian a couple questions to find out what he's got planned for the upcoming season.

How is your hand doing after your crash in Finale Ligure?

My hand is doing fine. It’s a pretty clean break which didn’t need surgery. This injury kind of forced me to rest for a few weeks... something I never do!

What have you been up to the past two weeks?

Post race season usually means a lot of moto time. The last two weeks have been mellow. I have a few new projects coming up so I’m working on it.

What 2018 moments are you most proud of?

My first ever Downhill World Cup win in La Bresse by far. My first ever EWS win in Finale Ligure 2016 was very special, but winning a DH World Cup is even more special.

A-MAES-ING is the only way to describe the back to back EWS and WC wins of Martin Maes. A feat that surely will not be repeated for some time if ever again.

What was the biggest surprise for you this season?

Just the fact I could be that competitive on a downhill bike actually really surprised me.

Your top 3 elite men from left to right. Martin Maes Loic Bruni and Danny Hart.

What was your biggest disappointment of the season?

My biggest disappointment was in Colombia when I dislocated my shoulder. When you know how much hard work you put in over the winter to be competitive. And all in a sudden you lose all hope to fight for the championship. It’s mentally tough.

Martin Maes injures his shoulder on the Stage 6 drop in Manizales Colombia. EWS 2018.

How were you able to recover and refocus after the shoulder injury that made you miss EWS Colombia?

I took my time to recover properly and spend a lot of time with my physio. My mental approach was slightly different as I didn’t have the pressure of the EWS title anymore. This is actually where I’ve made the decision to race some Downhill World Cups. And I’ve got no regrets at all!

Martin holding his bike high after officially taking the win. Photo Fraser Britton

Which one do you think is harder, an EWS or a World Cup DH race?

Downhill World Cups are all about how fast you can ride a bike with the pressure involved. Settings are crucial and commitments are real. Enduro is... hard work. One practice run, 45 to 1 hour of racing over the weekend, conditions changes, long stages. Every weekend a big challenge in front of you.

Was it hard switching back and forth between the DH and enduro bikes?

I never struggle with switching from enduro bikes to downhill bikes.

Martin Maes

What races can we expect to see you at in 2019?

At the moment, my plan is to race the first two EWS of the season and the first two DH World Cup of the season and then make a decision.

Martin Maes came out swinging today and rode super aggressive to win the first tow stages of the day. Unfortunately it just wasn t enough to dethrone Sam Hill from the top step of the podium.

What are your goals for 2019?

Managing to do a full season healthy is my priority.

How will you be training and preparing to achieve these specific goals?

Train hard, work a little bit more on my mental approach prior to the race and hopefully still have as much fun as the last 6 years travelling the world and racing bikes fast.

Where do you train and what are your local trails like?

I mostly train back home in Belgium. Most of the people think Belgium is flat but it’s not the case at all haha. I usually escape the bad weather for a few weeks away. But I miss home during the season so I spend a lot of time there over the winter.

Martin Maes



  • 304 2
 My bet is that he is going to podium the 2 first EWS... and the 2 first WC DH !!!! and then what Martin ??? DH or EWS, your choice is going to be even harder to make mate hahahaha. I love this !!!!!!
  • 38 1
 Let's all hope you are up there keeping him honest at ews!
  • 40 1
 @sspiff: Thanks mate, I'm already working on it haha !!!
  • 7 0
 If he sees equal success in both after 2 & 2, my guess is that he races more DH after that. He seems floored by success on the WC circuit.

Dug your Insider episode, Yoann! You’re certainly a model for others to follow.
  • 6 5
 @scvkurt03: DH has a higher pay out and is probably less time commitment to train for. If his natural ability has got him on the podium and with only a little bit of training he can stay there with a higher paycheck, it'd only make sense.
  • 4 0
 Podium an ews and then pedal to the world cup event, then pedal to the ews and so on... ahahaha
  • 13 0
 @PHeller: he isn't in it for the money mate, no one takes up mountain biking to be rich
  • 5 0
 @toad321: eh, I dunno. Having a few WCDH podiums could certainly open up future sponsorship avenues that might have him making decent money. Not that EWS can't pay the bill, but as Hill as demonstrated, you could easily race WCDH for a few seasons and come back to EWS later.
  • 2 0
 @toad321: Takes up MTB to be rich, definitely not. But when you're a world-class athlete and one pays better than the other, it may very well become a consideration. you seen Gwin's cars on his Instagram page? I bet Maes wouldn't mind rolling around in a McLaren 570s either Smile
  • 5 14
flag Rider656 (Oct 17, 2018 at 11:47) (Below Threshold)
 @toad321:People like you annoy me. It's called follow the money and do what you love while doing it.
  • 3 0
 @PHeller: Martin is absolutly not about money Wink
  • 6 0
 @yoannbarelli You are such a boss!! Keep being you and enjoy that little girl of yours!!
  • 2 0
 There's a lot more money in road isn't there? Perhaps he could do a Camel Evans
  • 1 0
 @toad321: Er, maybe Gwinn.
  • 1 0
 @PHeller: "DH has a higher pay out and is probably less time commitment to train for. If his natural ability has got him on the podium and with only a little bit of training he can stay there with a higher paycheck, it'd only make sense."

I wouldn't say his natural ability got him to the podium, sure it helped, but he's been training his ass off the whole year challenging Sam Hill at the sharp end of the EWS... it's not like he just jumped on the DH bike after loafing around all year.
  • 1 0
 @toad321: so does this mean Gwin will stay at YT next year?
  • 1 0
 @BochyTheKid: Nope. He gone.
  • 1 0
 You go big on your bike, but not your paycheck? That makes no sense haha!
  • 1 0
 @PHeller: No one ever became successful going after high payouts and minimal effort its just not how things work.
  • 88 0
 Why not toss in a XC World Cup and shoot for a Triple Crown? Big Grin
  • 37 0
 That's what Tomac would have done... Plus maybe Paris-Roubaix for the hell of it.
  • 26 0
 @ReformedRoadie: i say Hill and Maes for Cape Epic too! haha
  • 2 1
 @H3RESQ: damn that would be EPIC!
  • 23 1
 Gracefully danced around that EWS vs DH question!
  • 3 1
 No, he didn't. He said EWS is harder ans DH is about handling extreme pressure and having the bike properly set up.
  • 1 0
 The old D.C. dip and twist. That's a very interesting question Sarah. Thank you for asking it.
  • 20 0
 I like the pragmatic approach " Managing to do a full season healthy is my priority."
  • 14 1
 The "Martin Maes Fist-Pump" is currently my favourite sports celebration! When he finished the last stage at EWS Whistler he got off his bike and was standing there, breathing hard. I couldn't get a read on if he thought that he had a good run... then he busted out the MMFP!! He was stoked!
I hope that he has many more fist-pump moments in 2019! The guy rules!!
  • 5 0
 I love it as well, but also enjoy a good Rogatkin smashed run fist pump! Both so full of life and energy and you know that feeling only comes after seeing something they've put their blood, sweat and tears into achieving!
  • 2 1
 @lobohusky: I wholeheartedly agree. Charisma, personality. Heart on the sleeve. Gwin could learn from these guys. Showing emotion wins hearts and minds!
  • 14 0
 Maes...straight up boss. No bs just a fast and fit dude who can back it up.
  • 6 0
 I didn't know Martin rode dirtbikes too. Seems like all the fastest MTB'ers are motocross riders. I think it conditions your mind and your eyes to how fast you really can go on a bike, it did for me at least. Heels down and look WAY ahead!
  • 2 1
 Big Grin Big Grin , No, Martin prefer Trial moto and just a little bit enduro moto Wink
  • 1 1
 @soudonphilippe: good call
  • 1 0
 @soudonphilippe: Yes, my point still stands. I highly doubt Martin just cruises through the woods in first gear.
  • 9 0
 Buy this man a drink!
  • 8 2
 He trains in Belgium? Where? I keep getting into legal problems when riding is this stupid country...
  • 9 0
 Out running the cops? Sounds like a legit training programm.
  • 1 0
 Where do you go? Not every community councel hates MTB... I know there are some problems near La Roche and Malmedy...But for the rest you should be able to bike, as long as you stay off private property (which is sometimes difficult to see)
  • 1 0
 What about the DH tracks here (Namen, Huy, Amay, Bouillon...)? Then there are the enduro routes/races, Ferme Libert bikepark...
  • 3 0
 Half of Belgium is flat, I live in the flat part unfortunately!! Therefor never imagined that a fellow Belgian could accomplish something like this, means I got hopes of becoming a lot better myself. martin is the biggest example ever heel erg bedankt, merci beaucoup Martin!!
  • 7 0
 What about Randy?
  • 2 0
 Loads of time for Maes, always seems like a decent guy and just enjoys the hell out of riding his bike fast.
Good to see GT sticking with him and delivering bikes that can podium. Now make him (and me!) a short travel XC rocket!
  • 8 4
 You'll have to beat Ratty on his new Cannondale downhill bike at the World Cups!!
  • 4 3
 Genuine question, if Maes was from say, France, or Canada, or Australia, I'd be saying "thats such a French/Canadian/Australain response...

What is the equivalent word for people of Belgium?

Belch? Bellish? Belgish? Belgian?

Either way, his response to the questions is very much what I'd imagine someone from Belgium would say. Very concise and to the point.
  • 16 2
  • 3 1
  • 3 0
 Un Belge de Belgique.

A Belgian from Belgium.

  • 15 1
 Belgainese, almost 90% sure
  • 2 0
 As much as I like seeing Martin compete with the aliens at DH, it would be a tragedy if we are deprived of a three-way battle for the crown between Hill, Maes and Rude.
  • 1 0
 Awesome to hear he'll start the season doing both EWS and WC DH! Best of luck in both, though I'd personally like to see a full WC season as we haven't seen that yet.
  • 4 1
 "Pay heum. Pay that man heus money."
  • 2 0
 Hell yeah Martin, talented enough to race either, or both!
  • 1 0
 Good luck Martin! So looking forward to seeing what you can do next season.
  • 1 0
 Well this could be exciting, If Sam Hill is gonna race a WC next year then it's going to be Maribor.
  • 2 0
 No mention of my buddy Randy?? Hmm
  • 1 0
 I guess I've spotted the new collection of Shimano's biking shoes for 2019 in the last picture!
  • 1 0
 Met Martin and Wyn at the US Open at Killington, nicest guys in the world! Congrats Martin, lets get Wyn on top of the box!
  • 1 0
 Nice ITV, good luck to you, Martin !
  • 1 0
 Wish you the best
  • 3 5
 Sandals!!! Never going to buy a GT now.
  • 1 3
 Is he going 29" wheels on the Fury next year or not?
  • 5 0
  • 1 0
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