Racing Your Heroes - Young Guns of the WC

Jul 26, 2015 at 7:45
by Nathan Hughes  




RACING YOUR HEROES

YOUNG GUNS OF THE WC


From the deep sea of talent on the World Cup downhill circuit, to make a name for yourself and stand out from the pack is no small challenge. For three young guns on the Adidas Eyewear team - Mike Jones, Innes Graham and Laurie Greenland - the future looks more than bright and they have already begun their quest to leave a lasting impression on the international race scene. Going head-to-head with their heroes has become nothing more than business as usual, and despite an ever expanding sponsor list, each one of them is shrugging off the pressure to climb the ranks and become the household names of downhill that they always dreamed they could be. What the next years have in store for this trio is anyone’s guess, but determination and hunger for silverware and world titles will be no problem. Time to find out more from the young senders themselves…



Laurie Greenland


Born in 1997, Greenland is Trek World Racing’s not-so-secret weapon of the future. Already performing at a level that sometimes makes a lot of Elite riders look over the hill, Laurie is a pocket-rocket with style and a dead cert for the Junior podium every weekend. Under the guidance of Martin Whitely, Justin Leov and not least his senior TWR teammates, there’s no doubting his threat level as he joins the big league next season. Watch this space.

Junior national champ and of course TWR s big name of the future Greenland.
  Junior National Champion, and of course TWR's big name of the future, Laurie Greenland.

Greenland sticks to the Scottish woodwork in the forest at Round 2.
  Greenland sticks to the Scottish woodwork in the forest at Round 2.


PB: Are there riders you look up to and if so who?

LG: I think the answers might be the same for most people, but no doubt about Steve Peat being up there for me. Sam Hill too, obviously. Those were the guys that really spurred me on for riding. Nowadays, I have riders in my own team like Brook MacDonald, who always impress me out on track and can give me some solid advice.

Greenland s fork fresh from servicing amongst those of the big names he s looked up to all these years growing up.
  Greenland's fork fresh from servicing amongst those of the big names he's looked up to all these years growing up.

PB: How does it feel to compete against MTB’s biggest names?

LG: It’s a surreal feeling actually, but maybe one of the best I've had from my racing so far though; getting close to some of those top guys. I think by the end of the season I’d be a fair way back [in comparison to them], but I know I'm making good progress!

With some bad luck for big rival Andrew Crimmins Greenland was able to dominate in Switzerland and take his first junior win at a World Cup.
  With some bad luck for big rival Andrew Crimmins, Greenland was able to dominate in Switzerland and take his first Junior win at a World Cup.

Laurie battling on with no more pedal power at Round 3
  Greenland battling on with no more pedal power at Round 3.

PB: What do you see as the key to your present and future success?

LG: I think a really good off-season is key nowadays, and it’s really important to keep your training fun. I've found so long as I'm enjoying mine I keep doing it! To be on the right team is a big thing, atmosphere-wise. As long as you have a good group of people around you and you’re having fun there’s no reason why shouldn't be giving it 100% and going for the top results.

Greenland follows mentor Brook MacDonald into the dark.
  Greenland follows mentor, Brook MacDonald into the dark.

PB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

LG: I'm aiming to follow in the footsteps of someone like Bruni or Brosnan. I want to find my feet early on in Elite and really become a staple name in the top ten. It’s easier said than done, but I’ll be giving it a good pop!

Perhaps outshined by Gwin s successes Greenland too made the podium without a chain at Leogang.
  Perhaps a little overshadowed by Gwin's big day, Greenland too made the podium without a chain at Leogang.



Innes Graham


19 year old, Innes Graham, is the youngest, possibly wildest, wheel of the four-part MS Mondraker racing machine. After plenty of podium time as a Junior in 2013, Graham today is always out causing a stir on track with aggressive, wild, lines and full-gas crash saves. Following a top 20 at Fort William, he would head home from the last round with a broken collarbone on his birthday, but there’s no doubt he’ll be back and hounding at the heels of the world’s fastest all over again before the year is out.

Innes infront of his home the famous Mondraker space ark .
  Graham in front of his WC home, the famous Mondraker 'Space Ark'.

The yellow plate signifying top team at Round 3 for MS Mondraker was partly thanks to Innes great result in Scotland.
  The yellow plate signifying the top team at Round 3 for MS Mondraker was partly thanks to Graham's great result in Scotland.

PB: Are there riders you look up to and if so who?

IG: For sure there are a lot of riders I look up to. To me Peaty is one of the most iconic riders of all time, Greg Minnaar for consistency and Gee Atherton as well. The British guys at the top especially inspire me and I want to be where they are. There’s also a bunch of up-and-coming riders that I have a lot of admiration for; Mike Jones, Loic Bruni and Troy Brosnan.

Innes Graham charging out of the gate into the heavy rain at Fort William.
  Innes Graham charging out of the gate into the heavy rain at Fort William.

WC Round 2 in Scotland produced Graham s first top 20 of his elite career and with it the promise of a lot more.
  WC Round 2 in Scotland produced Graham's first top 20 of his Elite career and with it the promise of a lot more.

PB: How does it feel to compete against MTB’s biggest names?

IG: It’s pretty mental. I didn't think I’d ever be in this position, going head-to-head with them so soon. This year at the first BDS at Ae Forest, myself and Reese Wilson qualified in the top spots together and we were all alone at the start gate after Josh Bryceland and the big names. It was so silent and so weird! Then I went and made a load of mistakes and finished sixth, but it was a great experience!

The sketchy woods ruined Innes chances of a top result in Austria but he was still the talk of the town looking wild in plenty of sections.
  The sketchy woods ruined Graham's chances of a top result in Austria, but he was still the talk of the town, looking wild in plenty of sections.

PB: What do you see as the key to your present and future success?

IG: It’s a bit of a cliché but I’d say ‘having fun’. There’s always training, but you can’t ride your best when you’re not having fun. It has to be the most essential aspect of racing DH.

Innes enjoying the sun-spotted and gnarly terrain of Peaty s track in Lenzerheide.
  Graham enjoying the sun-spotted, gnarly terrain of Peaty's track in Lenzerheide.

Happy healing to Innes after meeting a tree on his race run in Switerzerland and taking home the lousiest birthday present ever - a broken collarbone.
  Happy healing to Innes Graham after meeting a tree on his race run in Switerzerland and taking home the lousiest birthday present ever, a broken collarbone.

PB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

IG: That’s a tough one, but for sure still riding bikes. Hopefully, finger crossed podiums. It’s a big shot but that’s where I want to be at least by the time 2020 comes around! I hope the tracks get more gnarly again like they were when I was growing up watching the videos with Sam Hill and that. I’d expect some major technology to be a part of it by then as well with telemetry playing a big role, more like F1 is today.

Innes will be out with a shoulder injury following Lenzerheide but see light at the end of the tunnel.
  Graham may be out for now with his shoulder injury, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that we'll be seeing him back again before the season is done.



Mike Jones


Sixth at Windham in his first year Elite and third place at Lourdes this season, there’s no escaping the fact that Mike Jones has arrived as a top-flight racer. Last winter, Tahnee Seagrave’s former FMD team mate took on arguably the ultimate off-season training program by travelling half way around the world to join Sam Hill in Perth. That kind of tutoring simply can’t be bought and if he wasn't fast enough already, as exemplified by his two Junior WC wins, the rest of the racing world is surely sweating to think of what is next to come from the Welsh CRC/Nukeproof danger man.

Jones prepares for another busy day at the office in Austria.
  Jones prepares for another busy day at the office in Austria.

Jones rides the classic boulder section of the legendary Fort William race track.
  Weathering the storm through the classic boulder section of the legendary Fort William race track.

PB: Are there riders you look up to and if so who?

MJ: Well there’s one sitting just next to me right now! It’s gotta be Sam Hill. Of course a lot of the other riders on the top as well.

Jones walks the Swiis course with some fine company - Sam Hill - no less.
  Jones walks the Swiss course with some fine company - Sam Hill - no less.

PB: How does it feel to compete against MTB’s biggest names?

MJ: For sure it's good to know that I'm not a slow rider any more, and to belong to the group of fastest riders in the world. I try to not get too ahead of myself and just to keep headed the way I'm going.

As a welshman Jones is no stranger to the steep and slippery. There s little doubting how important the valleys of home have been to the development of his skills.
  As a Welshman, Jones is no stranger to steep and slippery tracks. There's little doubting how important the valleys of home have been to the development of his skills.

Mike Jones follows team mate Joe Smith in high winds across Aonoch Mor.
  Mike Jones follows teammate Joe Smith in high winds across Aonoch Mor.

PB:What do you see as the key to your present and future success?

MJ: Training is probably the single biggest part of getting fast on a bike. If you feel comfortable on what you’re riding and you have good people around you, you will always do well. Being on a top team means you can practice with people who have experience at the highest level of the sport and you can learn and feed off them.

Suns out tinted lens out Mike takes a very unusual outside line possibly hoping Sam Hill never finds out.
  Sun's out, tinted lenses out... Jones takes a very unusual outside line. Let's hope Sam Hill never finds out.

PB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

MJ: I want to be at the top, no question. I want to win World Cups and the overall, win World Champs... I just want to be best in the sport.

Jones steps up to the podium for the first time in elite this year at Round 1 in France.
  Jones steps up to the podium for the first time in Elite this year at Round 1 in France.

With eyes on the prize in a sport where a determined mind is more than half the battle Jones is set to far.
  With eyes on the prize in a sport where a determined mind is more than half the battle, Jones is set to go far.



Interview and photography by Nathan Hughes.


MENTIONS: @adidaseyewear / @trek / @ms-racing2 / @ChainReactionCycles / @Nukeproofinternational / @natedh9




26 Comments

  • + 24
 Lol, did you guys not read that it was an article for adidas eyewear riders only.
  • + 1
 Just noticed after you pointed it out. :-)
  • + 1
 Lucky you mentioned, now I'm scrolling up again to see it lols
  • + 12
 BDS - Breeding ground for future World Champions.
  • + 4
 "I hope the tracks get more gnarly again like they were when I was growing up watching the videos with Sam Hill and that."

This^^^
When I want to go fast on smooth tracks with big jumps I ride mx, where you go way faster and much bigger but also be much more stable. Bring on the tech, where the nimbleness of a mountain bike really shines.
  • + 8
 Mark Wallace mofos!!!
  • + 1
 wonder what's mike view on samhill's flat pedal thunder.
  • + 4
 wondering whether setting up my fork with PSI 68, HSC 15, LSC 18, LSR 9 will make me ride like Laurie.
  • + 3
 no i think you'll need a 2016 40
  • + 4
 Jacob Dickson sitting 5th in Juniors overall, definitely one to watch.
  • + 4
 ANDREW CRIMMINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 2
 I did not know that about the no chain thing.
  • + 3
 Andrew Crimmins
  • + 3
 kids these days
  • + 3
 Andrew Crimmins!!!
  • - 1
 No doubt. How the hell does Andrew Crimmins not make this list? As soon as I saw Laurie Greenland I just expected Crimmins to be a part if this article...

Hopefully pinkbike does more of these.
  • + 3
 I gotta stop reading this shit at 12am just realized it was an adidas promo thing....
  • + 2
 Adidas Eyewear!!!!!! This is just about the young riders on the adidas eyewear crew
  • + 1
 Sick! These guys are ridiculous, in a few years the fight fir the top will be so tight, maybe even tighter than now?
  • + 2
 Reece Wilson !
  • + 1
 Mike Jones will be on the top soon, just look at his initials, MJ.
  • + 2
 Luca Shaw bra!
  • + 1
 No flats????
  • + 1
 Remy Morton!
  • + 1
 For sure
  • + 1
 Finn Iles brrraap

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