Interview: Martin Maes on his time at Orbea – I don’t really see the benefit of a high pivot bike for enduro
From a handful of incredible EWS performances, a DH World Cup victory and a podium at the DH World Championships in late 2018 through 2019, we suspect his best is yet to come. Now, with that recent EWS win under his belt and some momentum towards 2022 with a new team, we might see him come back to the top. When we heard about his recent move from GT to Orbea, we asked a few questions to find out more.
First of all, congratulations on becoming a dad! How did you feel as the 2021 season approached?
Thank you. It was the best time of my life. It was a little hard at first trying to adapt to our new pace of life and do my training and recovery well.
You suffered from concussion symptoms following an accident in La Thuile. How was your recovery?
Fortunately, it was a small commotion. It took me a week to recover and I resumed training. However, I still think brain damage is still underestimated for a lot of runners / runners.
Has becoming a father changed your approach to running?
Totally. You know, all of a sudden your life priority which is running becomes priority number 2. I am now a little calmer and smarter when I jump on my bike. Just because I want to enjoy those precious moments at home after training.
You made the bold decision to ride an enduro bike during the Downhill World Cup in Maribor. What is behind this choice and how did it go?
It wasn’t the best idea to be honest! I tried because my enduro bike had a newer geometry than the downhill bike. However, after a few practice runs, I quickly realized that the stiffness of the frame was not suited to the needs of DH races. It was difficult and difficult, especially with the explosive conditions we had.
Mid-season it looks like you’ve hit your stride and won your first podium of the year in Switzerland. Then, in the final race in Scotland, you came back to the top step. How did this progression come about?
Yes, the first races got me in shape. I felt the confidence in my constituency slowly return. We also had a new bike and I think it took us a few races to optimize it. Winning in Scotland was emotional. No one knew it was my last GT race but I can tell you that I gave my personal best this weekend. It was just meant to be, I think… the best way to say a BIG THANKS to GT bikes for everything they’ve done for me over the past decade together.
You’ve been with GT for nine years since you were a teenager, and you grew up in the GT pits with your dad riding for GT. What precipitated the change of team?
With GT, we have achieved great things together and unforgettable memories. I will always love the brand. It was time for me to look for a new challenge, to find new motivation for the rest of my career.
How did you choose to ride for Orbea?
Orbea and I share the same passion for racing. We want to win and keep moving towards our goal of winning a championship together. When we first met, I quickly realized that we had the same vision. My final decision came naturally.
What are your plans for the 2022 season?
Race as hard as possible.
We’ve heard that you’ll probably continue to run a bit downhill, although Orbea doesn’t currently make a downhill bike. Is it true? Can you tell which bike you will be riding?
Correct. I cannot give you all the details but I will be running some DH in 2022 on an Orbea. 😉
What makes the Rallon (assuming that’s what you’re going to ride) your bike of choice for the 2022 Enduro World Series season?
It’s quite different from my previous bike actually. I tried it and I really like it. The quality of the bike is the most important thing for us riders. I am still new to the bike and there is work ahead of us to extract 100% of its potential.
High pivot enduro bikes have made a big splash in recent years. What do you think of the high pivots? Do you feel more capable on a high pivot bike or on a more standard setup?
To be very honest with you, I don’t really see the benefit of a high pivot bike. Especially for enduro races where efficiency is key. Yes it’s a little more comfortable when pedaling in difficult passages but I often question myself and do you really need to pedal when it’s hard?! I do not think so.
What are you most looking forward to in the next chapter of your career?
I am excited for this new chapter. My goal is to perform, to have fun but above all to continue to improve myself every day in my way of cycling.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
See you on the trails and thank you all for your support.