Thrill-seeking Slovakian mountain biker Filip Polc was once again blazing a trail in South America at the weekend. After ducking and diving through the favelas of Rio de Janeiro during the Desafio no Morro, the two-wheeled wonder took a trip to Colombia. We caught up with Filip after his downhill triumph through the coffee fields at Red Bull Camino Arriero.
What motivated you to compete at Red Bull Camino Arriero in Manizales?
I have been to Manizales once before but that was for an urban race. After that race I took a tour of the coffee farms in the area and got to see the true beauty of the area. When I heard the Camino Arriero was taking place in the middle of this great scenery I just had to get involved.
Looking back at your career it’s obvious you’re attracted to technical races. How did this track in Colombia compare to what you are used to?
The track was fast and steep the whole way through. The track also took nearly five minutes to complete, the longer you are out there the more difficult it is because there’s more opportunity to make a mistake. Another thing I had to cope with was the altitude. Then the rain started to fall just before the race and the track got very slippery. With all these different elements in the mix it certainly wasn’t an easy race.
You have experience of snow, rocks, urban circuits and pretty much everything else you can ride a mountain bike on. Do you have a favourite terrain?
I just love to race and spend time on my bike. If I had to select one kind of race that I prefer I would have to say urban tracks. This is because the urban races attract more fans and I always enjoy seeing how much people get a kick out of watching us ride.
What have been your impressions of Colombia during this latest trip to the country?
I always look forward to visiting Colombia and discovering new cities and places within the country. I really like Colombia, it’s a country that has everything. There are nice mountains, oceans, good food and relaxed, friendly people. During this trip I also met lots of local riders who are competing at an international level so that’s was great as well.
In Colombia, many people involved in the mountain biking scene still look to Europe. What improvements do you think need to made in Colombia?
I think the main thing is that we have many more races in Europe, there are more tracks and more variety of races. However, in recent years I see Colombia offering much more. The key to making sure this process continues is to build more tracks, this will help the local riders improve.
What is it about downhill racing in particular that keeps you coming back for more?
It’s not so much about the great tracks that keep getting built but rather the young guys who keep appearing on the scene and pushing the limits. These guys are what keep making the sport more and more extreme. When you want to stay at the top level you need to adapt to the constant evolution in our sport.
So how does Filip Polc fit in with this evolution in mountain biking?
I’ve been racing at World Cup level for 14 years now and have managed to stay among the top level during this time. I have won the European Championship and finished fifth at the World Cup in my first year of elite competition. Since then I have suffered with injuries but now I consider myself as the top urban downhill rider there is.
What advice would you give to anybody out there hoping to become a top rider?
I think it’s essential to have some natural talent for the sport to begin with. After that comes many hours of preparation for races and the ability to stay mentally strong while riding under pressure.
How would you describe your relationship with Red Bull?
Red Bull gave me the chance to showcase my talent when I was 15 years old, when they handed me the opportunity to get involved in bigger and better races. Red Bull is like another family for me, it’s always great to meet people working for the company all over the world. Everywhere I go I meet more great people who give me all the help I need. I would like to thank Red Bull for giving me the chance to work with people that help you through the bad times as well as good times.