Team Spirit - Behind the Scenes at the World Cup with MS Mondraker

Aug 27, 2019
by Nathan Hughes  



Things change fast at the World Cup. As the years keep on ticking by, sponsors come and go, stars rise and fall and only one thing is constant; the overall level continues to go up. Riders come to race with a great diversity of backgrounds; different countries, different attitudes, different histories in mountain biking and most obvious after any visit to the pits; different levels of support. Some have it lucky, some have just the one white box van to pit out of and a single set of riding pants... jeans in some cases. Some things work and some things do not and usually only time will tell.

Even the largest and most luxurious of setups don't always equate to rider happiness and rider happiness doesn't even necessitate results. It's a tricky balance and one where no precise rule book can be found, not yet at least. MS Mondraker is a team that seems to be doing it right. They may have one of the biggest and most imposing pit set-ups on the circuit, but they also have something else you might not notice unless you were to stick around a little longer. If you did you might hear the sound of clicking as this combination of riders, management, and support find the magic formula. 2019 has been kind to this crew of MTB race enthusiasts. There's no 'I' in team and you'll notice no 'I's in MS Mondraker either.


The MS behind the Mondraker team chipping in with the new floor for the gigantic 2019 pit set-up

MTB speed record breaker and Red Bull athlete Markus Stöckl (pictured above) founded the MS team back in 2004 alongside team manager Lukas Haider. Starting out with Proceed bikes, they moved to Intense between 2005 and 2008, before Evil 2009-11, eventually aligning with Mondraker since 2012.



bigquotesI did two years on the MS team in the Evil days and then one on Mondraker in 2012 when I got my win at Val D’Isere. Coming back to MS was pretty amazing after a struggle the past couple of seasons. Nothing had really changed and I was able to work again with a lot of the same good people, just a new mechanic which has been awesome. I knew I’d fit back in comfortably and the set-up was better than ever. A lot of teams do things differently depending on budgets and that can definitely benefit a team a lot more or less, but we have everything we need right now. I have all the trust in the World in my mechanic, Beno, he knows how to make the bike go fastest. Everyone at MS is into the sport for the same reason; they have the passion, we all get along and we have a great balance of professional versus fun that’s so important.Brook MacDonald


The Bulldog fanclub get the clip.
MacDonald

Brook MacDonald climbed steadily up the rankings through the splits for a top 10 and upgraded plate headed to Austria.

bigquotesI’ve known Laurie since he was a little grom back on the Trek team so that’s when we first met. I couldn’t care less myself if I’m the ‘lead rider’ or not. It’s bouncing off each other; working together that’s important and we have such a good vibe. If you don’t have that in the team things can get really difficult. Helping each-other out makes a lot of sense; when you’re struggling with lines it’s only gonna improve your riding to have teammates who also don’t mind sharing that kind of stuff and being honest about going fastest. The speeds we’re going it’s never easy following and paying attention to what the guy in front is doing, but we often go out on track together when we can or if not watch some GoPro footage together.Brook

MacDonald hits the showers. Highlands style.


bigquotesAt the end of the day in racing you don’t want anyone to beat you, but at the same time, you’re happy when your teammates are doing well and it can give you the motivation to push more at the next races. Everyone is going so fast these days that any top 20 is a good day for a rider; it’s such a big and deep field of talent.Brook




Thibaut Laly in the fight against the flood at Fort William earlier in the summer. MS Mondraker also supports a B-team of 3 up-and-coming riders; Laly, Brage Vestavik and elite female racer, Eleonora Farina.


MacDonald

The 4 mechanics and 6 racers of the MS crew in front of mighty Mont Blanc at Les Gets.

Mike Jones and the Mondrakers writing on your favourite images after qualies.

Brage Vestavik with team manager since the start, Lukas 'Lupo' Haider.

bigquotesThe main challenge is to keep everyone happy. Decisions need to be made which are not always very popular, but if you have cool people around you which are really pro, like the people we have currently on the team, everything is way easier. Other than that… you face issues like in any other job. It’s not all about keeping the sponsors happy, results are key and to get there I think we have to follow our passion. We want to get riders on top of the game and we want to win races and it's happening right now.Lukas Haider



Laurie's mechanic, Mark Sterland, and Brook's mechanic, Benoit Vergnaud, at the weigh-in before Les Gets, with number plates getting ever-closer.


Stefan keeping the wheels of Mike Jones turning at the MS pits.
Laurie Greenland s mechanic Party Mark dialling in the number 6 rig for the big days ahead.


bigquotesListening to rider feedback is the starting point. The biggest work can be tyre pressure. It’s crazy how even one or half a PSI can make a big difference. Then there’s spoke tension. Actually with the new wheel we have, they’ve been great. Shock set-up is the other difficult area to get right. For example the other week, Brook was feeling tired on track so we were looking to dial in the right mix of comfort with something that supportive of pushing really hard. Comfort can be a real enemy of racing; what feels great often doesn’t bring speed. It’s a thin edge we have to stay on and it’s hard, you have to understand each other well.Benoit Vergnaud


Brook and Benoit take a scroll through the timed training results.


bigquotesWorking with Laurie testing in the middle of the summer I found it really hard to know exactly what he was trying to describe and I had to go out on track and watch a few sections to find out. Laurie analyses things heavily and thinks hard on every detail. He’s one of those guys where it can be best to adapt and not always tell him the changes that have been made to keep his head clear to assess the feeling. Not everyone is made to work well together. I’m happy to say with Brook I really understand what he’s asking for and I did from the very first race. I’m obviously a long way off his level of riding but we have a similar take on what’s needed from the bike. Brook is now so close to top, it’s like what is really the difference between just missing the podium like in Andorra or taking a win; it can be the slightest bit of overbraking in one section. A mistake in set-up can easily push a rider outside the top 10 these days. We can find a few tenths of a second on track working together - that combo of rider and mechanic is maybe more important than people at home realise.Benoit Vergnaud


Mike Jones is killing here on the flat grass turns. You have to wonder if his school of Sam Hill education is a help.
British rider, Mike Jones, is the third rider of the elite team. Already with a couple of podiums in years gone by, this year Mike claimed some dangerous looking splits and qualie runs, but after a string of race run crashes he will have to wait for 2020 for redemption on the race track.

It s a frustrating place to be knowing you have the speed but crashing out. Mike Jones knows what he needs to do with 4 races left to make it count.

Greenland prepares to drop in for qualifying on the Straitline course in Lenzerheide last round.


Elite female racer and Italian national champ, Eleonora Farina, has shown great potential for the future while snagging a few podiums along the way this season.


Brook MacDonald s been moving up the ranks steadily this season while Mike Jones has had a season to forget. 2nd and 3rd at the splits in Les Gets show he has the speed however.

Laurie with team chef and organiser of all things team-bus, Ludwig Götzendorfer.

No luck for the Bulldog this time after a crash off camera but the fans were still keen to see him fly.

Loony toons Greenland took 3rd here in 2018.



bigquotesIt’s a great team this year. Back in the day me and Brook had some great fun together. It’s mint to be able to travel together and have sick time, spending time in NZ in the offseason as well. Me and Brook being so close in results doesn’t come into my head that much, I honestly can say I don’t think about it. It chops and changes and when you’re that close, it’s hard to say who’s the better rider. We finished last year in 5th and 6th for the overall; it’s not like one of us is smoking the other. I think it’s good. It’s real cool being able to go through lines with Brook and Mike and sometimes follow to find out how it all plays out. Working together as a team is pretty essential if you don’t have someone up on track filming all the lines.Laurie Greenland




bigquotesWhen you’re in the white easy-ups like we are here for Worlds in MSA, it’s actually really hard to get your head into that full-on World Cup zone because you’ve been in this cool set up in Europe all summer and you’re so used to everything being exactly where you need it to be. You're sitting on a little white plastic chair in a soaking wet pit and it's a bit more difficult to get your head all the way in the game. It’s a real bonus of the job, of course, having such a dialled set-up. It’s not everything and it’s still doable without all the extras, but yeah, it definitely helps!Laurie Greenland


The long-awaited victory number one finally arrived in Val Di Sole for Laurie Greenland and it seems unlikely it will be his last. The future is bright for this man.





13 Comments

  • 11 0
 Amazing team and they look to be having fun. Keep it up guys
  • 8 0
 Love those gt podium steps
  • 1 0
 and look at those helmets though
  • 4 0
 I love Laurie's denim short-shorts and leopard print top...
  • 1 0
 Can’t unsee that now!
  • 1 0
 I just figured that there would at least be some kind of “all hail the HUMO! “ kind of cheer...?
  • 1 0
 Brook what a shocker... tehehehe
  • 1 0
 Dear goodness “HUMP”...
  • 1 0
 Wait, Brook rode Evil? Learn some new every day...
  • 1 0
 Couldn't imagine a better purpose for GT Fury i drive frames. Perfect
  • 1 0
 cool
  • 1 0
 Bird up
  • 1 1
 Did someone stick their head in the "shine-o ball-o"?

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