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Interview and photos by Johan Hjord

In just 2 years of racing Elite World Cup DH, Mike Jones has made a name for himself as one of the up and coming fast kids. Already a World Cup podium finisher, he has his sights set on the top step, and going by his constant progression, many people believe that will happen sooner rather than later. We caught up with Mike in Leogang to find out a little bit more about the man behind the goggles.

Vital: ​Who is Mike Jones?

MJ: I’m 20 years old, from South Wales, and I race DH.

Vital: What is your first memory of riding a bike?
MJ: My first memory of riding, my granddad took me out and took the stabilizers off, and I can remember wobbling away down the hill. A long time ago now already…

Illustrious company - Mike has already earned his place on that list.

Vital: When did you get into racing?
MJ: I got into racing in 2010, that was my first ever race. I’ve only done 2 full seasons of DH so far actually. I rode a lot with my mates and all that before that, then I got a DH bike in 2010 and entered a little local race – and I just carried on from there. I didn’t do too well in the beginning…

Vital: When did you get your first memorable result?
MJ: My first really memorable result was getting second at National Champs in my second year of racing. From there I kept going, started doing well in the national series, and then it was onto the World Cups.

It's not all fun and games, but there's that, too...

Vital: You won a couple of Junior World Cups – how hard was the transition to elite?
MJ: It was difficult to begin with, but I had a good team behind it, and that made it a lot easier. I broke my hand at the beginning of last year (Mike’s first year in Elite), and then struggled in South Africa before landing a top 30 in Cairns. I’ve then managed to progress to top-20, top-10, and then podiums…

Vital: What’s the biggest difference between a weekend warrior and a pro racer?
MJ: The whole support structure, a proper pit setup, a mechanic to make sure your bike is perfect – that’s one massive difference. Day to day, it’s also very different, you have to go out and train and work your ass off while other people sit in an office all day.

Getting stuck into practice in Leogang.

Vital: Which is your favorite World Cup track?
MJ: I really enjoyed Meribel last year, and Lourdes at the beginning of this year was just such an amazing track. Basically, the French know how to put a World Cup on.

Vital: Whips or berms?
MJ: None of that – just give me a nice flat, greasy, off-camber turn.

Hanging it out in Lourdes. With a 3rd place finish in the race, Mike traded up on that 23 plate pretty quickly.

Vital: Tell us about life on Team CRC / Paypal
MJ: Life here is pretty epic. It’s a very laid back and relaxed team, there is no pressure to do well, you just have fun riding your bike every weekend. This makes a big difference when it comes to doing a race run. You’re not stressing about “yeah I gotta deliver this result or achieve this or that” – you ride your bike for fun and whatever happens happens. We also have probably one of the best mechanics on the World Cup circuit in our pits, he’s always on hand with advice and stuff, and we have Sam Hill to follow and learn off – it’s pretty much the perfect team.

The new Nukeproof Pulse is primed and ready for action - and already prodium proven under Mike.

Vital: What is your biggest strength?
MJ: Not too sure eh – I do well on technical stuff, as well as fast and wide open stuff.

Vital: Weakness?
MJ: I’m not too good on the old pedaling…

Vital: If you could do it all over again, anything you would do differently?
MJ: The way I did it is probably the way you’d want to go about it, getting your first World Cup season under your belt with a big factory team, then if things work out there, you get yourself on a bigger team and actually progress again. Most people maybe don’t progress this quickly, but at the same time, if you happen to be doing well, you just have to push on and try to keep up the progression.

Mike is all business on the bike, committed from the first practice runs. It wasn't to be Mike's week in Leogang, but look for him to bounce back.

Vital: 3rd in Lourdes, right up there in qualies at Fort William…you’re knocking on the door! What’s going to take you all the way to the top step?
MJ: I just need to put together a race run the way I ride in qualification. In Fort William I qualified second, and I didn’t feel like it was a fast run. Then I tried pushing it in the race run, and ended up blowing turns up and not carrying speed properly. I guess I just need to get in the gate and tell myself to ride the bike like I know how to ride it, relax a bit more and not tense up.

Vital: Tell us something about Mike Jones that nobody knows.
MJ: Don’t think there’s much I WANT to tell, actually (wry smile).

Vital: Team CRC arm wrestling champs – who wins?
MJ: It would be a big competition that one – that man over there would give everyone a good go (points to Jacy). He’d tussle with the lot of us, but it’s hard to tell, we’ve never really been down that road…

Getting loose in Leogang.

Vital: Last time you rode Vallnord you won as a junior – looking forward to Worlds?
MJ: Well yeah - If I get selected. Britain is a pretty tough team to get on, but if I got selected, I’d be buzzing, Vallnord’s probably one of the best tracks we ride on the whole World Cup circuit, a couple of seconds out the gate you just fall into it for a whole run. I’d be looking forward to that if I got selected, and hopefully get on that podium…

Vital: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us – good luck for the rest of the season!

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