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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.