Rider profile – Tiaan Odendaal
There is no doubt that South Africa is slowly starting to become a big player on the international DH scene, with names like Greg Minnaar, Andrew Neethling, Johann Potgieter and Tim Bentley currently riding for international teams. But there is a new breed of young rider coming to the fore in the form of Tiaan Odendaal…
Over the last three years Tiaan Odendaal has become almost a household name when discussing podiums at National and Provincial DH events, with his smooth and attacking riding style Tiaan has dominated the junior category of late and is making a few elite riders sit up and take notice of him. Riding for Turner Loaded SA and based in KZN South Africa, Tiaan is equally capable on the endurance circuit as well as the Downhill track and judging by past performances the future seems bright for the rising star of South African mountain biking.
Tiaan made time for a couple of questions to give us and you, the reader, a better look at the man inside the helmet. What drives him as an athlete and how he plans to kick start a promising career in Downhill racing.
Hello Tiaan, thank you for making time to answer a few questions for us.
First up, give us some background on where you’re from, what you do for a living?
I’m from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa I was born in Newcastle KZN. I’m still a student doing matric
How did you get into Downhill racing?
I was riding during the holiday in 2007 on a track at Cascades when I met Greg Minnaar and he told me about Downhill
Give us some background info on how your racing career started?
My mom went to Greg Minnaar Racing shop to talk to Greg and agreed to let me ride in an event to see if I would like it and the rest is history as I have never stopped riding DHI
You currently race for ‘TURNER LOADED’ (correct name if incorrect please), how were you recruited for this team?
Yes I currently race for TURNER LOADED SA; I negotiated with Johan Wykerd from WSquared and Andre van Aarde from Rush Sports about sponsorship and was offered the opportunity to race on this magnificent Turner bike with Loaded and Formula components.
The last time we spoke you mentioned you’ll be focusing on racing in North America mostly, which events/series are you looking forward to most and why?
I’m really looking forward to the whole trip because the level of racing and standard of tracks is just so much more there, but I’m mostly looking forward to the UCI World Cup #5 in Windham, 01 July. The US Grand Prix series have a race the next weekend 8 July and I hope to race and compare my standard of riding with the locals. Racing overseas always improves and raises the level of competence and gives sponsors an opportunity to see how you preform.
Which of the World Cup DH races will you are attending this season and what are your aspirations for the 2012 season?
UCI World Cup #5 in Windham 01 July and I hope to be selected for the National CSA DHI team to go and race the UCI World Champs in Austria, Leogang. My goal is to be the best that I possibly can be. I would like to be internationally recognised and of cause I would like some good results and podium finishes.
What type of track best suites you riding style?
A track with lots of jumps and some peddling would probably suit me best as I enjoy jumping and am strong at peddling, but I like riding technical stuff too.
You’ve been kicking dust in the eyes of most of your junior compatriots over the last two years, what’s it like edging closer to the elites category?
Well I’ve never really had any fierce competition in my age group so I’ve been aiming for overall positions and they have just been improving and are now with the Elites on the podium.
Which DH riders most inspires you and why?
Greg Minnaar has really inspired me, not only has he introduced me to the sport he has such good sportsmanship and he is just a great guy to be around with. Sam Hill also inspired me just because the level of his riding is incredible and he never gives up.
What are your plans for the immediate future, riding and career wise?
I’m really trying to lay down some good foundations to start off a racing career in DHI internationally. Mainly now I’m preparing and get some good training in before I go overseas.
This year we will see you, Pottie, Tim Bentley and Stefan Garlicky race for international teams. What do you think led to this sudden rise in local DH talent?
I think with the World Cups coming to South Africa, many riders have seen they stand a chance to be among the best in the world and it’s raised the level of DHI, giving us a chance to go and compete overseas and achieve results.
What advice can you offer to aspire and young DH racers?
To just never give up on your dreams, and to always get up and keep trying. Also it’s not only about your results it is who you are in person.
How do you spend your spare time away from bikes and riding?
I really enjoy fishing with friends, I also enjoy riding motorbikes and doing other extreme sports
No doubt about the fact that this young man has big race temperament and a level head on his shoulders. We will be sure to stay in touch with Tiaan as he heads of to the USA in the coming months to lay the foundation of what promises to be one of the next great Downhill racers to come out of South Africa.
We wish you all the best for the coming season and will follow your progress as you head overseas.