Chased by Nino Schurter
Anne-julie Tremblay’s 2017 season was full of many highs. She was the top Canadian at two early cross country World Cup races. She won three gold medals at this past summer’s Canada Games. At the world championships, she found herself chased by Nino Schurter, Manuel Fumic and others in the team relay. When Tremblay jockeys for position with the best in the world, she definitely holds her ground.
How did you get into racing mountain bikes? When I was younger, I did shorttrack speed skating. In the summer, I wanted to train so I rode mountain bikes with a friend. Later, I preferred mountain biking to speed skating. I did both sports for two years, but I got better results on the bike.
Tell me about your first mountain bike World Cup at Nové Město in May. It was really great. I had objectives, but no pressure. I just wanted to do my best. After, I was really happy about my race. And the course was really cool.
After the World Cups at Nové Město and Albstadt, which you did with riders from Quebec, you got an invite from the national team to race with them in Vallnord and Lenzerheide. Were you surprised by that invite? Yes and no. I had the best Canadian results for the under-23 races at the first two World Cups. I thought that the national team might invite me for the two other races. When I received my initiation, I was really happy. What happened at nationals? It wasn’t a good day for me. After the World Cups, I was tired. It was a big beginning of the season for me. At nationals, my legs weren’t there. I made some little mistakes in the technical sections. I knew that the week after, I’d do the Canada Games, so I didn’t want to fall. I just stopped racing.
Were your three gold medals at the Canada Games – in cross country, team relay and eliminator – revenge for nationals? Yes. Absolutely.
The team relay race at the world championships featured Peter Disera, Raphaël Gagné, Holden Jones and Catharine Pendrel. You were the last rider. Can you tell me how that played out? The plan was to put the guys at the start so we wouldn’t be in traffic later. Catharine got into first. When I took over from her, I had to go as quickly as I could. I had a little pressure on me; I was only about a minute ahead of Nino. I knew he was going to pass me, but I wasn’t going to say, “OK, you can go ahead of me.” I was going to take my place.
What was it like having Nino Schurter chasing you? I was a little bit stressed. There were at least five guys on my wheel who are usually top-10 in the World Cup. Manuel Fumic had a fall on a technical descent. He tried to pass me, probably thought I’d let him by. But he went over his bars. He fell, but I was OK. He put a picture of it up on Instagram.
You were quite aggressive? I don’t think I was aggressive. Like I said, I was just keeping my place.
What are some of your plans for 2018? Will you balance your engineering studies at École de technologie supérieure in Montreal with training? Now I’m at school full-time. Later in the winter, I won’t be. I’ll probably do a training camp. Maybe, if I get in invitation, I could do the training camp with the national team in Victoria. I’d also like to go to California to get in some volume.
“I knew he was going to pass me, but I wasn’t going to say, ‘OK, you can go ahead of me.’”