Have you been following Bec Henderson & Dan McConnell this MTB World Cup season? Well here’s some insight into what life is like supporting these two Aussie mountain bike legends as their physio….
The first round of the MTB Cross Country World Cup season took us to Nové Město na Moravě in the Czech Republic. Nové Město has hosted a MTB World Cup or the World Championships for seven consecutive years, so is a familiar race venue for Bec and Dan.
Being the first race of the season, the guys from Red Bull TV were eager to hear what Bec and Dan had been up to over our Australian Summer and in particular, why they were no longer riding for their previous team. In a nutshell, toward the end of last season Bec and Dan were told their contracts were going to be renewed, however in November they were made aware this was not the case.
Given this extremely late notice they were no longer in a position to look for an alternate team, so stress levels were at a high. But in true Aussie spirit the guys rallied and the question was not ‘if’ they were going to race this years’ MTB World Cup season, it was ‘how’. So after an epic summer of organising independent sponsors and reinforcing their small but strong support network, team #becanddan were more motivated than ever.
This week was the first time the guys had physiotherapy treatment for the season, so it was important to get the balance right in prep for their races. This involved some intense sessions early in the week, followed by some lighter massage in the couple of days prior to race day. Our mechanic Gary worked hard to prepare their bikes, with both of them opting for their Scott Sparks with Mitas Scylla tyres.
Racing was held over the weekend with Elite Women on Saturday and Elite Men on Sunday. After a fast start, Bec felt like her body shut down a little, struggling with the cold air she felt like she was peddling squares and hitting every rock and root on the course.
By lap 2 of 6 she found her rhythm and moved from 20th position, progressively moving her way through to 9th place with one lap to go, keeping us very excited in the feed zone. The last lap she fought hard for 8th place, which was such a great start to the season for Bec and as a team…we were STOKED!
Unfortunately Dan’s start to the season was far less positive, with a crash in the first 100 meters putting an end to his race.
Lucky to walk away from it, Dan was taken to the hospital for x-rays with concerns for his neck and a possible fracture of his elbow. After a few stitches in his thigh, thankfully he was given the all clear and later that evening it became more apparent that his main issue was his shoulder.
After we watched the replay of the crash, it was it evident why! Landing directly on his left side and then having several riders ride over his arm and head, it was no wonder he was feeling pretty sore.
The second round was in Albstadt, Germany. After a traffic jam and an epic road trip, we arrived in the hamlet of Geyerbad, around 30mins drive from the race site. After some initial communication difficulties with our hosts, we soon settled in to hamlet life.
Fascinated that Bec and Dan were returning this season as a privateer team, the guys at Red Bull TV wanted to follow their story. They gave them a GoPro camera and asked if they could document the week, highlighting the challenges of racing as a privateer. Mid week the production crew ventured out to Geyerbad and interviewed them both, as well as shooting some more footage of the team in action.
On the Saturday, the film crew then came to our van at the race site to shoot the segment intro with show hosts Bart Brentjens and Rob Warner. Bec nailed it on camera, despite them being ‘slightly’ taller than her, and both Rob and Bart were very impressed and encouraging toward their achievements in setting up their team.
Both races this round were on the Sunday and with Germany turning on the weather, it was quite a contrast to the previous week. After several days rest after Nové Město and some specific rehab and shoulder taping, it was a positive just to have Dan on the start line.
Dan was nervous and cautious on the descents however he was climbing strong and making up positions throughout the race, finishing 31st. While it was not the result he was working towards, the positive feelings were there and he was happy to have a full race under his belt.
With her 8th position at Nové Město giving her a front row start, Bec was in the top handful for the start loop, but then felt unable to settle into a race rhythm in the early laps. By lap 3 though, Bec found her legs and was keeping us on our toes in the feed zone, moving up from 12th position to 5th on the final lap and onto the podium!
This was the perfect finish to an awesome fortnight with team #becanddan and highlights their potential leading into this years World Championships in Cairns in September. Now the pressure is on me to keep their bodies finely tuned and as injury free as possible!
The next round of the Mountain Bike World Cup is on Sunday July 2nd in Vallnord, Andorra. Stay up to date with the team through instagram @danmcconnelmtb @physiophebe and be sure to book your trip to Cairns with the guys at Rad Season ASAP!