Rising World Cup downhill pro rider Cameron Cole, of Christchurch, New Zealand, signs with Lapierre team for 2011.
Overcoming a season-ending broken wrist in 2010, Cameron Cole (22), of Christchurch, New Zealand, has banked his top-10 consistency of 2010 by signing with the Lapierre International team for his 2011 World Cup and World Championship campaigns.
In 2010 Cole posted three top-10 World Cup finishes with the Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team – including two podiums – and finished the season at eighth in the UCI rankings.
His success did not go unnoticed with French team Lapierre jumping at the chance to take him on board.
"Talking to Laurent [Delorme, Cole's new team manager] right from the start, it seems everything is perfect," Cole explains.
"The support includes anything from a shifter cable to toilet paper. I want to be able to just forget about all those things and to just focus on riding my bike."
Along with the new team Cole will have to get his head around a new bike.
"It is a bit of a different design – it's super light and wants to pedal over bumps super well," he offers.
"I think Lapierre are really onto it with their bikes and design and if I have the opportunity along with the other riders, Nico and Sam, to help them keep developing them then it's a pretty cool opportunity for me," he smiles.
Cole, who was crowned Junior World Downhill Champion in 2006, has had a long relationship with Maxxis, beginning with Norba competition and growing with the brand into the European-based World Cup series.
"I've grown with it and my results have improved every year and I feel like next year I can be at the top of the game," Cole shares.
The likable rider cites having 2010 Women's Downhill World Cup champion Sabrina Jonnier as a teammate as being a significant part of his return to form in 2010.
"We were first team mates in 2008 and seeing how committed she was to it and putting every ounce of her life into racing gave me motivation, too."
He also claims arch rival and very good friend Justin Leov had a big role to play.
"Justin has been the guy representing from New Zealand and he is always so super professional and one hundred per cent prepared."
"Then there is Gary Wolf from Maxxis – he has been on the scene so long – like probably since I was born or something!" he laughs.
"Just being around all that experience – it is hard not to take good things from it."
Cole will see out his time with the Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team until the end of December, before taking his new ride. This will include the New Zealand Open in December.
"I want to finish off well and win another race for them. It has been four years with Maxxis and an awesome relationship. I want see it right out to the end," he said.
Joining Cole on the Lapierre team in 2011 is Frenchman Nico Vouilloz – one of the most respected downhill riders in the world. For Cole this is a chance to learn from a rider who many describe as "the master".
"I had a bit of a talk to him at the Mega Avalanche this year and then after the Leogang World Cup he came and congratulated me after the podium," tells Cole.
Cole expects to live in Europe for the season with rival and fellow Kiwi Sam Blenkinsop. The pair will be vying to be top Kiwi on the race circuit in 2011.
"We'll be in Morzine [France], which is where Sam was this year and is where you want to be for downhill," he explains.
Cole's goals are simple for 2011:
"I go to a race to test myself. It doesn't matter what anyone says. Usually it's always for you and it's to prove to yourself."
Cole is expected to appear on a Lapierre in January for the first time – most likely at the New Zealand Downhill Nationals which will be held in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Follow Cam Cole at: www.cameroncole.blogspot.com
all photos Derek Morrison.