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Anne Tauber: "To learn you must make mistakes and take risks"

Anne Tauber may be one of the more quiet achievers on the World Cup circuit but that doesn’t mean she isn’t one to watch! At just 24 years old Tauber has a handful of World Cup podiums to her name and has been seriously consistent over the last two seasons finishing 5th and 6th respectively in the World Cup overall. She is the current National Champion of the Netherlands and has real potential to be not just one of the best in the World but to reach the top step.

Bec: You started the 2019 season in a huge way and looked like you were going to win the first two World Cup races. In Albstadt you crashed while in the lead and finished in 4th place while in Nove Mesto you were leading for almost the whole race until the final lap where you made a mistake and suffered a mechanic problem to finish 10th. Clearly you had done the work and preparation, do you feel it was just bad luck or do you think with the experience you have now these are mistakes you have learned from and will not make again?

Anne: Thanks for the compliment. The beginning of my season 2019 was partly successful and partly misfortunate. I was in a good shape and I did my preparation right. Though I would have never expected that I was able to be in the lead in a World Cup for almost the whole race. Especially not in Nove Mesto because I think it is not exactly the course that suits me best for my climbing abilities.

Especially after the race in Nove Mesto I felt it was just my own fault and blamed myself for it. Which was a stern conclusion but true. A bit later I realised, it was only partly my own fault but it was bad luck too. Crashing was my own fault but the fuss with my derailleur hanger being bended was bad luck. When I would have crashed on my left side, the result of the race would have been completely different after all.

It was my first experience to be in the lead for a whole race and of course I felt the pressure of Kate behind me. So what have I learned? Now I realise that I have to minimise the risks when I’m in the lead of a race. But of course I feel like I have to maximise my learning curve and therefor you should make mistakes and take risks. So the timing of taking a risk, or not, is very important. So I have learned something and that can only be a positive.

B: You’re not shy to stand on the World Cup podium and last season you finished 6th in the overall, how do you keep the consistency over the whole season and is there a change you need to make to jump to the top step?

A: Yes, I feel that I am very consistent during the season. There are not many fluctuations in my shape or tiredness during a year (apart from just after the off-season of course). It is difficult to tell why. Maybe due to a year jam packed with XCO - and skating races.

How to climb to that highest step is a difficult question. If I knew the answer I would be invincible already. It is not something you will find out overnight.

B: You come from a county without hills, how are you so good at mountain biking?

A: Holland is a nation of cycling. It is very popular in the country in general. Especially because the kids all go to school by bike so they grow up with a custom to cycle. That will be the cornerstone of our success in especially road cycling. But I still think that mountain biking is an underestimated sport. It is not super popular among young kids so they need to get picked up by small clubs in order to train with other children of their age. But as you say, we don’t really have hills so if you are very ambitious you should travel in order to get used to technical trails to conquer a World Cup course.

Hopefully the current success of the Dutch mountain bikers will make kids realise they should attend a mountain bike club.

B: Tell us a little bit about your other sporting life – Speed skating. You were second at the National Championships just a few weeks ago right?

A: Ah yes! That is right. I became second in the National Championships on natural ice this year. I look back on that race with a big smile on my face. Manon -who in the end won the race- and me were in a close battle for the victory so it was exiting. Natural ice races are my favourites because it has more similarities with mountain biking than you might think. Natural ice is hard to predict. You can’t look far ahead and there are cracks in the ice.

B: How do you feel these sports compliment each other and do you think your speed skating helps you when it comes to World Cup racing?

A: In general I believe speed skating is a good practice for mountain biking. The same muscles are used and I reach similar heart rates in both sports. Moreover we train in groups which makes the training very fun and I feel that it is not a big effort to get into interval training. Especially training with men makes me lactate tolerant.

B: You are a member of the Bart Brentjens team along with some other pretty fast girls, do you work together to lift each other up or keep to yourselves?

A: I think we work together quite nicely. However, our ordinary training days look very different. We help one another out in the lead up to races and we motivate and encourage each other. In my perspective we are not really competitors but rather friends. Yana makes delicious cookies and Mariske knows everything about making a perfect braai (South-African BBQ). So all in all I think we complement each other quite good.

B: What influence does Bart have on your racing and do you feel like you have an advantage having the support of someone with so much knowledge and experience?

A: Bart has a good grasp on how to support us mentally. It helps that he was very successful himself so he can easily put himself in the riders’ shoes. He knows exactly how we feel in the lead up to a race and has the perfect balance between being strict and relaxed.

B: The Coronavirus is affecting everyone in different ways. Where are you now and are what changes or compromises have you had to make to be able to continue training each day?

A: I am at my parent’s place now in the north of the country. There it is not very densely populated so I have plenty of space to train outdoors without bothering anyone else or having the risk to bump into a bunch of people who had the same idea as me (lets go outdoors and ride our bike!). I feel very fortunate that we are still allowed to go outdoors in Holland. But I train alone of course.

B: With sports events stopped on a global scale, how are you keeping motivated to train when we have no idea when our next races will be?

A: I absolutely miss racing now. I miss the atmosphere and I miss to see everyone again after the winter. But besides that, for me it’s not too difficult to keep motivated (not yet at least). Normally I am always eager to train. Sometimes I even appear to be too committed and then I do too much. At the moment I don’t follow a strict training plan but I try to follow my feeling. To break my daily routine I decided to put on the roller skates again (after 5 years of not having touched it). It’s just a nice new trigger of training.

B: The life of an athlete can be pretty full on between racing, training, resting, fuelling your body and the travel, do you ever need an escape from it all and if so, what do you do?

A: I just like the life I live as an athlete. With all the things it comprises. But It makes it easier for me to be off-home for a long time when I stay in my campervan. Then my parents are there, I have my own bed and it is on me to decide where to stay. Even though it’s really nice to have some distractions now and then. My favourite thing to do is cooking with friends and of course having dinner with them. I also write food-blogs!

B: Do you have any pre race rituals/superstitions? Or any must do celebrations after a good performance?

A: Haha superstitions I don’t really have. But in the team we absolutely stick to our tradition to celebrate a good race day with pizza. It is very nice to finish a good day with the whole team since we all have the same goal and we work together towards certain results. Moreover it makes it easier to share our ideas about the race and to evaluate a bit.

B: If you could make one change to our sport, what would it be?

A: I can think of loads of fun types of racing. (not that they are all very serious). Once I would love to organise a father-daughter race. Since so many female train with their father or became cycling enthusiasts thanks to their father I would like to see the fastest couples. But that’s just for fun. The average mountain biker is very individualistic and serious but at the same time most of us are also playful and not scared of taking some risks. Beyond that almost everyone is part of a team and this results in a social community. So it would be cool to organise a team relay instead of the XCC races. However I also see that this is quite difficult since every team should then have a rider representative in each category. But still, I think it would be really nice to race with your own team once in a while. It will bring an intimate and fantastic atmosphere in a race weekend.

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