Czech mountain bike racer in top form with European Championship, World Cup series wins

Jaroslav Kulhavý, foto: ČTK

Czech cross-country mountain bike racer Jaroslav Kulhavý has had a sensational season: earlier this month he defended his title as European Champion and at the weekend he clinched the World Cup cross country series with a win in Nové Město na Moravě in his native Czech Republic. Not only did he lock out his nearest competitors on points on the circuit, he’s looking very good for the Summer Olympics next year.

Jaroslav Kulhavý, photo: CTK
I spoke to the 26-year-old Czech racer’s coach Viktor Zapletal who described his satisfaction with Kulhavý’s results and also discussed challenges that lie ahead.

“I am very happy with Jaroslav’s performance this year: he has been very fast in all competition. Key of course was him winning the European Championship and the World Cup circuit with a win in Nové město na Moravě in the Czech Republic. What he does not have among his wins is the World Championship title or a medal from the Olympics, so this is what he and I are focussing on next.”

Considering this season, do you think this has been his best so far?

“Yes, I do. Jaroslav is a strong and technical rider and he is able to put maximum concentration into an event, to focus on his power, on his strength and on his bike. It’s very important to be able to do that if you want to win.”

Jaroslav Kulhavý, photo: CTK
Do you think that is his greatest strength or are there some other characteristics that make him a great competitor?

“Well, one thing is that he doesn’t worry about is the other riders. He tries to find the best possible line and to get ahead and focuses on his own race. It’s a bit of a paradox because a race is 'against' other competitors but he firmly focuses on what he has to do himself.”

Did you or the rider make any training changes this year which contributed to his success?

“No. Jaroslav has been following a five-year programme which has helped him hone his skills physically and mentally. But he has a lot of talent and that was his to begin with. He has sharpened his skills. Currently he spends about five hours in the saddle per day, 20 percent on the single track and 80 percent on the road. There are different disciplines in cycling and he is good in several: on the road bike, in cyclo-cross, in mountain biking.”

Jaroslav Kulhavý, photo: CTK
To come back to his latest win on the World Cup circuit: what was it like for him to win at home?

“Well, the fans were fantastic and the atmosphere and organisation were great. All of these things helped add to Jaroslav’s drive to win.”