Select quotes from American Olympic mountain bike cyclists before their competition begins at Hadleigh Farm outside London. The women will compete Saturday, Aug. 11 at 12:30 p.m. BST and the men are slated to compete on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 1:30 p.m.
Marc Gullickson-USA Cycling Mountain Bike Programs Director
ON THE MIX OF OLYMPIC VETERANS AND ROOKIES ON THE U.S. TEAM: I think in general, Sam (Schultz) learns a lot from Todd (Wells). I don’t think it’s the kind of mentoring that is obvious, it’s more like osmosis. Through osmosis, he’s learning from Todd. Todd has the confidence of being to two Olympics. Todd is rolling with all of this stuff more than Sam would, because this is Sam’s first time. It’s the same with Georgia (Gould) and Lea (Davison). I wouldn’t say the mentoring is right out there, in your face. I think there’s stuff to be learned by Sam and Lea from Todd and Georgia.
ON GEORGIA GOULD RIDING IN THE TEST EVENT: I think the fact that she (Georgia Gould) was able to race on the course and gauge that effort and how the race is going to play out, even though it wasn’t quite at the speed that this Olympic race will go off at. I think that will help her have an idea of how this race, in theory, might play out. I think she’s helping Lea (Davison) out on some lines out there just because she’s done a a fair bit more laps on this new course than Lea has. I know she’s giving Lea some info on that. I think it’s definitely a help that Georgia was able to do that event.
ON THE COURSE CHANGES SINCE THE TEST EVENT: There’s one section on the course that is a pretty important part of the course that is new. For Todd (Wells), Sam (Schultz) and Lea (Davison), this is the first time they’ve seen it, this week. It was nice to have Georgia (Gould) be able to talk to them about that last week during our training camp.
Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.)
ON HIS THOUGHTS HEADING INTO HIS THIRD OLYMPIC GAMES: A lot of anticipation and excitement. I never thought I’d go to one Olympics and now I’m here at my third. I’ve been here before and I’m excited and hoping for a good result.
ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HIS OLYMPICS: I feel like I’ve learned a lot each Olympics. The first one, I was very overwhelmed. The second one, I put a lot of pressure on myself. This one, I feel like I have a good balance. I want to do well. I’ve done everything I could to prepare, but if things don’t go right, I know it’s not the end of the world. This year, we’re staying away from the village. I feel like in the past, I’ve wasted a lot of energy in the village, not on anything particular, but it’s pretty intense there. It’s a completely different environment than I’m normally in. Here you come to one of the biggest races of my career and then I go into this high stress, high energy environment that’s different. In the past, it’s just been a lot of different things. This year, staying close to the venue, some of the U.S. Team is out there, my normal trade team is out there, I just feel like it’s a more controlled, more normal environment for me.
ON HIS SERVING AS A MENTOR FOR OTHER U.S. RIDERS: It hasn’t been so much, ‘Tell me about this, tell me about that,’ in our pre-Olympic training camp in Germany we got to hang out together in a very relaxed environment. Of course, we’re all talking about the games coming up. It hasn’t been so much, asking questions A, B, C, it’s more of the banter back and forth between everyone. In a sense, it would be nice to be in the village with those guys to bestow some of the things I’ve learned over the years. I feel like in the camp leading up to it and even before that, just talking about the Games I’ve tried to give them as much advice with things that have worked for me.
ON THE COURSE: It’s a fun course. It’s short. I think maybe it’s a 12-minute lap so we’re going to do a bunch of laps out there. I think there are six rough, technical sections, so the way the course is that it’s very smooth then you go through a rock garden and then it’s really smooth and then rough. It’s not so natural. A lot of times if it’s a rough area, then the whole course is rough or if there’s a smooth area, then the whole course is smooth. Here it’s on, off, on, off. I think that will wear on us since we’re going to go through those sections so many times through the race.
ON HOW HE ENVISIONS THE RACE PLAYING OUT: Most of these riders, we all race together all the time. There are fewer riders here at the Olympics because each country can only qualify one to three riders, so it’s a smaller field. I think it’s going to be a pretty typical World Cup sort of race and the best guys come to the front in those races. This course is very firm and fast, so it’s small differences between the riders. If it’s muddy and slow and the average speed is eight miles per hour, one guy who is stronger by the end of the race gains a big-time gap. Here it’s fast, so even if you’re not good or you’re off a little bit, you can still maintain a lot of speed and momentum. I think there will be small gaps between the riders.
Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mont.)
ON THE MIX OF OLYMPIC VETERANS AND ROOKIES ON THE U.S. ROSTER: It’s good to have the veterans on the squad to give us the scoop and fill us in on some of the questions we have. They’ve been through it all and know what’s happening. It’s cool because Lea (Davison) and I are completely wide eyed and blown away. It actually makes more a good mix. Lea and I are super pumped and then we have the veterans that keep it a little bit more grounded and know the ropes. It’s been good.
ON HOW HE HAS UTILIZED THEIR EXPERIENCE: I’ve asked them questions about how things work. Nothing that huge. It’s definitely been good to have them around to throw some ideas off of and figure things out with. It’s a little bit weird because everyone else is staying remotely, not in the village and I’m the only one staying in the village. It would be nice to have a grizzly veteran with me in the village.
ON THE COURSE: The course is awesome. I’m super fired up about it. I was psyched about it when I rode it on the test day. I don’t know how they improved it exactly, but it rides way better now. It just flows a lot better. They’ve smoothed out some of the choppy sections that were awkward switchbacks and that sort of thing. They have that stuff moving really well. They added a couple technical features since I’ve been out here. It definitely keeps you on your toes out there. There’s plenty of sections where you can ride it tons of times and stay entertained and learn something new every time you ride it just because there are a lot of high-speed, rocky sections that you come into. If you know the line, you can cruise through it. If you’re not super confident you can’t really see where you want to go so you’re relying on that memory. If memory serves you wrong, you’re going to end up hurting. It’s good to ride it a bunch.
ON HOW HE SEES THE RACE PLAYING OUT: I think there will be a group. The thing that’s going to whittle the groups down is all of the technical sections. Most people have a solid line dialed in, but it’s easy to make a mistake on that, especially if you go into it cross-eyed. If you screw up on one of those sections and lose a couple seconds it’s hard to bring that back. If you do that a couple times, you’re definitely burning a lot of matches. I definitely think the top guys are going to have to have everything completely dialed and run a smooth race to get through it.
Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo.)
ON HOW SHE’S USING HER PREVIOUS OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE: This (participating in the Olympics) doesn’t become old hat. It’s an amazing experience both times. Knowing how to do your best and tune stuff out and not worry about trying to meet family. I was just telling the new guys, to add five hours to whatever you think you’re going to get done. That’s how long it takes to do stuff at the Olympics. You think you’re going to have all of this free time and you barely have time to sit down for five minutes.
ON PARTICIPATING IN THE OLYMPIC TEST EVENT: I think it was definitely a good move for me. I definitely benefit from the more time that I spend on a course, so I tried to take advantage of every opportunity that’s been available to be out here on the course. I was at the training days last year, the training days this year and also the test event last year. You can ride a hot lap on the course, but it’s different when you’re racing it. I think just having that experience racing this course for me is good even though they’ve changed the course a little bit since then. Just knowing how that race played out and knowing that it might be a little bit more of a tactical race than each person against the course like some of the World Cups can be. I’m definitely glad that I had that experience.
Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt.)
ON LEARNING FROM HER TEAMMATES: I mean it’s nice to have teammates here who have experienced the Olympics. Georgia (Gould) has definitely been helpful and so has Todd (Wells) in what to expect, when we get here, now this is going happen. It’s been helpful. It’s all exciting. We’re definitely coming together as a team. Georgia and I pre-rode the course yesterday together. We’re helping each other out.
ON THE COURSE: I love the course. Suprisingly, it’s very challenging. The climbs just keep coming. There’s not a lot of recovery, which I expected. There’s technical sections thrown in there so whenever you get recovery, you’re not really recovering because you have to be on it for those technical sections. It’s a really challenging course and I think it’s going to weed out a deserving victor.
ON DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES OF THE COURSE TO OTHER COURSES: I think it’s really different than a lot of the World Cups we do, especially the past two World Cups. Windham was kinda one long climb, one long descent, kind of old-school course design. This one is more short, punchy climbs that come one after another in succession. Mont-Saint-Anne is kinda similar, but it has three longer climbs, this one is boom, boom, boom. You have to hit it consistently. I’ve been training specifically for this course and I think I’m prepared for it.
ON HER OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE THUS FAR: It’s been mind blowing. I’ve been on such an energy high since I’ve gotten here. The entire thing is so exciting. Everything is exciting. You get to the (Olympic) Village and you get around the Olympic Park, and just the energy level of all of the people, is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
Source: Dave Gaylinn