With the withdrawal of Team Spur, the Swiss marathon mountain bike champion found herself without a team, but finally bounced back perfectly by taking the place left vacant by Jolanda Neff within Team Kross. Ariane comes back with us on her best moments spent within Team Spur, the difficulties to find a new team and her objectives alongside Maja Włoszczowska !
You spent three exciting years with the Team Spur. What will remain as your best memories of this period?
Winning the Cape Epic together with Annika Langvad in 2016 and watching my team mate James Reid racing at the Rio Olympic Games and then Alan Hatherly becoming the U23 World Champion in Lenzerheide were probably the most significant successes of our small team, which I am very proud of.
However, two of my most emotional memories were the two Swiss Marathon Champ titles I won in the Spur colours. The one at the Raid Evolènard in 2016 was very special because my manager Nic Lamond came all the way from his holiday in France to support me and I really didn’t expect to win the title. It felt so great to reward all his effort he has done for us with that victory.
The Team Spur made the public announcement of closing the team pretty late. How did you learn about it and how was your hunt for a new team in a context where the sponsors are more and more reluctant to support bike teams?
The marketing manager of Spur, Sacha du Plessis, called me personally in June already to tell me that they will have to reduce their investment for 2019. Spur didn’t pull out completely though, they keep supporting me this year and I remain as an ambassador for the Spur Schools MTB League in South Africa, which is something I am very passionate about.
Finding a new title sponsor proofed to be incredibly hard indeed. My manager Nic Lamond and I approached a lot of businesses with our proposal without any success. It was a tough time, not knowing if I were still able to continue my career as a professional rider for much longer.
And finally you managed to sign in the Kross Racing Team, where you will replace Jolanda Neff. How such a great outcome became possible?
When I heard that Jolanda Neff was leaving the team I took a leap of faith and asked Maja if she was interested in racing the Cape Epic with me. To my fortune she and the team showed great interest and that’s when the negotiations about me joining Kross Racing Team started.
With Maja Włoszczowska, you will get a very strong team mate for the Cape Epic. Do you already have some clear plans on this side?
Yes, as mentioned above the Cape Epic was the reason why it all came together. I’m truly honoured to be able to race with a two time Olympic silver medalist and have the world class support of Kross Racing Team for this demanding race.
After the European medal last year, what will be your priority for the next season and how the team switch will affect your race program?
My main goals for 2019 are the Cape Epic in March, European Marathon Champs in Norway beginning July and of course the Marathon Wold Championships in Grächen, Switzerland, in September. As you can see my focus remains on the long distance and my calendar doesn’t change much to last year. However, since Kross is a Polish bike brand, I will be racing a few races there. I already look forward to visit Poland and discovering a new country on my bike.