After her stellar debut World Cup season, Nina Hoffmann resisted the temptation of joining a factory team and instead stuck to running a semi-privateer set up with Santa Cruz and Stif Bikes. We fired her a few questions to understand her motives and her plans for the season ahead.
Were you hoping for a team offer in the offseason or were you always looking to start your own team?
I was open to everything. Basically I just wanted to ride my bike and have fun and try to do this on a more professional level and that’s how it is now. Of course, I was looking for teams already during last season. Since I knew I couldn’t get on the Syndicate, I was looking for alternatives but at the same time the idea of staying as a privateer for another year evolved. I got a good offer from Santa Cruz/Stif, so this was always an option and turned out to be the best one for me.
How many offers did you get from teams? Can you tell us which teams?
A few, not too many. It was not like everybody was fighting for me, what some people might think but there were some interests and also offers. I don’t want to name specific teams.
What made you decide to start your own team?
There wasn’t a special day or moment or event that made me decide it this way. It evolved during the off-season after World Champs, sitting injured (with my shoulder) at home and having my mind already planning next season. I put down all the pros and cons of switching on a new team or staying with Santa Cruz without a team. And the second idea outweighed…
Probably the most important factor was sticking with my familiar environment. It’s very important to feel comfortable on a race weekend and I do feel so if the right people are around me! I’m also a person who needs consistency, I hate to change things. And I wanted to continue working with Santa Cruz and many more personal and longterm partners and realise individual projects together with them. In the end, I love dealing with challenges and this own team is definitely one! But it’s also a way of self-fulfilment for me and the more I think about it, the happier I am and the more I’m looking forward to the first race to kick-off.
What bike will you be riding this year?
The best one on the market! A V10.
What other sponsors does the team have?
Beside Stif as my main sponsor (including Santa Cruz, Juliana and Reserve Wheels) I will get good support from my sponsors of last year: Schwalbe tires, O’Neal clothing, LevelNine cockpit, Trickstuff brakes and Fox suspension. I’m going to use RaceFace cranks now and I also got a new helmet sponsor - Bluegrass - who will make my first ever custom helmet. Other new partners are Tunap Sports (bike cleaning products), PRAEP (sport-specific training gear). Oakley, Crankbrothers and E13 provide goggles, pedals and chain guides. Also important to mention – my local partners: Horn2Horn, GOT-Jena, TOQ and JenBike which support me all in their own important way!
Who is Erik Fickelscheer?
He’s my teammate and mechanic. We will drive together to all the World Cups and he takes care of my bike and helps me with driving the car, building the pit and everything else. Some smaller races he’ll attend too.
What races will you be attending this year?
Main focus is set on the World Cup races and World Champs. I will try to get my national sleeve back, which I lost last year due to my injury, and one or two European Cups are planned.
What are your goals for the season?
Race fast and be smart, haha! It’s such an exciting season ahead, so many fast girls around. I’m not sure if I can build on my success of last season, but I’ll try! And somewhere deep in my head there is this dream of a first World Cup win. But let’s wait for the first race to come, I’m so curious.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the Pinkbike readers about your team or your 2020 plans?
Maybe I just want to say to everybody who’s skeptical about my decision: It was the best decision for me personally. Me and my partners stand 100% behind this project and I’m ready to rock the season!