Davide Sottocornola has just finished his 8th Enduro season with the last Enduro World Series race in Finale Ligure. Placing 20th in one of the strongest fields of riders of the year showed how strong Italian Enduro riders have become and also how professional competitive Enduro racing has upped the game. Staying on top is no longer what it used to be. Now a professional attitude, professional training program plus riding very fast is the only thing that’s going to keep rider’s like Davide at the top. We caught up with Davide in Punta Ala to find out just how hard it is to be a pro rider and maintain the competitive edge.
How many seasons of racing of you been doing?
I’ve been riding for the last eight seasons.
How has the level changed over the last years?
Since the first years, the level hasn’t just increased its made a massive jump, with the type of racing, the quality of bikes etc. Race tracks are harder, to be ahead today only even in Italy, you need to be exceptionally well trained, you also need a lot of concentration.
You are definitely one of the fastest racer in Italy, how much pressure do you feel to stay there?
There is a lot of pressure, yes im fast now but now there are new riders with tough heads as well like Marco Milivinti who came from DH and know how to ride very fast and have a strong head and stay focused. Determination, training and a focused mind are the key, you need to be convinced about your bike as well.
Many think being a sponsored rider is a cool thing because you get free bikes and lots of stuff, they might forget about the time investment and the hard path to becoming sponsored, how hard is it to please your sponsors?
The sponsors want you to win, but like I said before it’s not easy as the level has really gone up, you feel the pressure.
What about international level racing, how hard is it to pass from national to international racing?
When looking at international races, the style of racing changes from a national level, Enduro World Series races are different, so firstly you have to adapt to that, at Finale I took 25th place because they were also similar to my national level of racing style that I have done. When you are out of Italy the stages become really long it means you have to invest a greater amount of energy and a different style of riding. International racing cant be compared directly with national level racing.
In this sense then its a good thing?
Yes especially considering that when you look at the names ahead they are names that are really powerful and from the world of DH, riders and champions from a very high level of racing.
To get into the top ten what do you have to do?
At Finale there were stages where I was in the top group, this for me was a good feedback about my racing style, let alone the famous riders ahead. It’s possible at races like Finale to get in the top ten, that which counts is to be well trained and your head must be convinced that you are going to do well and relaxed on the bike. I have the qualities to be ahead in that position, but it’s not easy.
Everyone was talking about stage one at Finale being really hard, was it?
Not really, it was more about bike skills, almost trials riding at times. Lots of closed curves etc.
What are you doing now off season now, for example you are here in Punta Ala training or fun?
In this time after the last race of the season I’m spending my time of teaching riding skills to normal riders and doing trail clinics etc.
We have seen you change bikes recently, how hard is it to change bikes from A Santa Cruz to a Rocky Mountain?
Not really, I will explain why. At the start when you try the bike at first, the first two runs took a while to adapt. Once I figured out the correct riding position and bike balance, the change became an advantage. I was faster and feeling more of an Enduro riding style than the previous bike that was more All Mountain riding only adapted. At Enduro level racing the Santa Cruz needed more attention to suspension to take the speed we we delivering, the Nomad though covers that gap now. It was a bike that require attention to riding position and line choice to make the best at a high level of Enduro racing. With the Rocky Mountain the suspension is more like being in the bike rather than on it, which gives a more relaxed feeling at high speed.
For the next season how are you preparing?
I think I will be going to Chile to do the Andes Pacific race, then I will be on the road more and gym work around Finale and further south. I work with my personal trainer and and together we measure my performance and how to improve my riding. There is a very serious program behind me to support the serious level of racing.