In the second year of their brand partnership, Continental Atherton have big ambitions for the forthcoming season. It’s been a tough winter with limited opportunities for joint adventures but the team have brought their famed razor-focus to their individual preparations for 2021.
The Downhill team has expanded its roster with the signing of up and coming Austrian rider Andreas Kolb.
Andreas previously rode for Gamux , scoring two career bests during the short 2020 season with 15th at Maribor Round 2 and 14th in the season finale at Lousa. It was a trajectory that brought him to the attention of the Continental-Atherton crew who were looking to strengthen their line up with a young Elite rider to race alongside Charlie Hatton.
Andreas is based in Schladming where he has been hitting the gym hard and riding at Schöckl and at David Trummer`s home spot when the weather allows… and when it snows he ski tours.
Andi said “I am so grateful and excited to be joining the team, these guys are inspirational in the way that they push themselves to the limit – this chance is exactly what I’ve been training for.”
“I’ve been stoked about Atherton Bikes since day one but unboxing my own A150 was something else. Just one look and you can see straight away that someone put a lot of love into this one.” Andreas
Dan Brown, Team Director and CEO of Atherton Bikes said “Racing is at the heart of everything we do, it’s our heritage, our present and our future. With Atherton Bikes now moving to the next level we all felt that the time was right to reassert ourselves on the track, we’re delighted to welcome Andreas to the family”
Team stalwart Charlie Hatton is particularly excited about racing alongside Andreas, the two young riders don’t know each other well yet but are very much on each other’s radar with similar results in 2020, similar riding styles and a common ambition for 2021 - to break into the top 10.
Charlie has been grinding out gym sessions despite losing three weeks to Covid 19, he said “ The numbers are still going up! Physically I feel a much more rounded athlete, there’s been lots of specifically targeted training and we’re really competitive when we compare the results! There have been a few gaps in opportunity this winter but riding with Gee and Athy soon brings you up to pace.”
“Charlie is the perfect athlete, no drama, no baggage, he keeps his head down and works hard – it shows in the huge improvement in his riding over the last few years.” Dan Atherton
Across the border, Gee is back in training with Alan Milway; a partnership that already has a great record. During 2013-2016 when the pair last trained together Gee took the win at 3 World Cups (losing out in the 2013 overall after an epic battle with Stevie Smith) and the 2014 World Championships.
Gee is super motivated to get between the tapes. He said “We’re all so ready to go racing. Despite all the restrictions we’ve been pushing each other on all through this off-season, working on the bikes, competing in the gym and on the trails, Charlie definitely keeps me on my toes and I’m excited to welcome Andreas to the crew”
Dan said “Gee is so fired up after the Ridgeline, he’s already scouting for new projects and that new focus and enthusiasm will definitely come through in his racing; he has such a store of experience and his knowledge is vast.”
Rachel has been rehabbing hard and has taken a key role in tyre development and Atherton Bikes prototyping.
“The last year or so has been a huge crazy challenge - mentally harder than physically. To have such a huge injury as my Achilles tendon rupture right in the middle of me winning World Cups on the new Atherton bike, the whole thing really blew me off course. I felt so much pressure at those first races on our own bike brand, and then with Fort William and Andorra wins under my belt I started to relax. We had some huge changes to make to my frame length which I knew would allow me to ride faster, but then the injury. I won’t lie, it has been hard to rediscover my motivation for rehab and training, but this last year since I started riding I have fallen in love with riding my bike all over again!” Rach
“The freedom of pedalling into the mountains and riding my trail bike wherever I want to go, those feelings are what I live for! I feel faster, stronger and more confident on my bike…”
“…I love being so involved with developing new products, working with our sponsors and the engineers at Atherton Bikes, I’m so excited for the coming year and everything it will bring!”
Oliver Anhuth, Global Head of Marketing for Continental, acknowledged the team’s work on tyre development “We are delighted to enter the 2nd year of our partnership with Atherton Racing, and to welcome Andreas Kolb onboard. We have been working closely on product development and the input of the team is invaluable - whether that's feedback on prototype performance under race conditions or working with our engineers in the harsh conditions at Dyfi Bike Park”
Meanwhile in the Dyfi, Dan is as flat out as ever, building trails ready for a new edit, and preparing the perfect testing ground for our racers – and our new prototypes!
“When you’re racing, everything that you do is for yourself, now everything I do is for the team; digging, testing, working on the development of the bike. A bi-product of what we’re doing at Dyfi Bike Park is seeing amazing new talent coming through, we’ve got a strong vision for where Atherton Racing is heading and spotting and working with young riders is really important to us “ Dan
And talking of spotting new talent , Mille caught Rachel’s eye in Hafjell when she was just 11 years old. She goes into her second season as an Elite and is staying in Wales to train, making the most of bike time away from the Norwegian snow but missing getting out on her skis!
Rachel said “Mille learnt a lot in her first year of elite racing last year, despite Covid and I know that as she continues to grow as an athlete she will pick up some strong results. She has masses of natural talent on the bike and now she’s training like an elite she’s going to be a force! It’s really ace to see her growing up and coming into her own, developing her own crazy style and her own take on life! I have to let her get on with it and go in her own direction and try not to smother her! She’s a shredder alright!"
“My ambitions for 2021 are to keep improving my riding skills, to be consistently in the top 10 and to get onto the Elite podium – and to build up my youtube channel”
The downhill crew will be supported by Team Road Manager Tom Lloyd who begins his seventh year of working with the Atherton family and Head Mechanic Ben Lovell.
Riders and staff look forward to meeting you at the races!
Photos: Dan Griffiths and fskugi.co