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Interview with Peter Disera at UCI MTB Worlds in South Africa

by pedalmag.com

August 30, 2013 (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) – Peter Disera, of Barrie, ON, brought the nation to its feet when he scored a stellar silver in the junior men’s cr0ss-country competition on Aug. 29 at the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The rising star has had an impressive year winning the Junior Men’s XC, ITT and CX titles along with claiming the victory in the UCI World Cup at fabled Mont-Sainte-Anne, QC, earlier this month.

Disera is in good company as he posted Canada’s best cross-country result at the MTB Worlds since 1998 when Ryder Hesjedal, of WorldTour and Giro fame, won the silver medal silver in the junior men’s xc race at Mont-Ste-Anne – the winner that year was non-other than Julien Absalon from France.

Meanwhile the last time a Canadian male won an individual cross-country MTB Worlds medal was in 2006 when Max Plaxton took home the bronze medal in the U23 men’s cross-country in Rotorua, New Zealand. The winner that year was another current star Switzerland’s Nino Schurter.

Congrats on this major result – are you surprised that you did so well ?
Peter Disera: To be honest, yes I am quite surprised I did so well. I knew I had some potential to do well – but 2nd place I did not see coming. I really just wanted a top 5… third place was my extended goal, but I didn’t want to think about it too much so I wouldn’t get discouraged.

Did the race unfold as you expected ? Walk us thru it…
DS: The race went as most of my races go. I am slightly passive off the start – meaning I don’t get involved in the attacks and high stress around me. After the start I was outside of the top ten. It was not difficult to catch the top riders, and I did this within the first 1/2 lap. Then I proceeded to move through the field for the next lap until I found myself riding with two other riders… and we were competing for 3rd place.

There were a fair amount of tactics being played. On the steep climbs I would get gapped ever so slightly. However, it was relatively easy to catch up on the downhills or on flat sections. It wasn’t worth going into the red to try and stay with them on the steep climbs.

Just after the halfway point in the race we were told that the 2nd place rider had a flat. Meaning that our group of three was now competing for 2nd overall. The German and Italian that I was with were ready to make any move to get away. On lap 4/5, nearing the end of the lap, the German rider and myself had broken away from the Italian. As we began to descend the amphitheatre, entering the first set of drops, the German washed out on a corner. I breezed past him and thought nothing of it. Later, at the bottom, I realized I was alone, and I was second. This meant go fast, go safe and finish this thing up.

Later in the lap I was told that the leader looked like he was hurting. At that point he was still 40 seconds up on me. I wondered how much I could pull him back. Giving it on the climb, because I wanted to and also because Dan Proulx [our Canadian MTB coach] was chasing me through the woods, I couldn’t pull him into sight.

I decided to settle in, chill out on the descents, ride safe and stay focused. The biggest thing for me was to just race and not think about what place I was in. Arriving safely at the bottle I rolled across the line and couldn’t have been happier. I had done something extraordinary – but I didn’t know that yet. It was a good feeling.

How did you like the course and how does it compare to others you’ve ridden this season ?
DS: The course was fantastic. The climbs sort of suited me but at the same time I found them more difficult than others. I am not one who enjoys long sustained climbs. I prefer the steeper, punchier climbs. So the main climb to the top of the Amphitheatre was very difficult. This course was one that I would refer to as an elements course. Meaning the course has elements added to increase technical difficulty but the terrain is smooth and relatively easy between the elements. This style of course is one of my favourites because I can flow real nicely and then turn on the tech for an element.

You’ve had an amazing season… how has it affected your confidence ?
DS: This season has been excellent and has gone even better than I anticipated. To be completely honest I haven’t slowed down to take a gander at what I’ve done. I keep my head down and keep training and pushing hard. It’s how I keep myself from thinking. It keeps me humble. Now, after this major accomplishment, I am starting to think of what I’ve done. I’m starting to realize the records I have smashed, the races I have won and just how many people I have impressed so far this weekend. I’m happy and I’m stoked for next year.

This is your first major international result – has it sunk in and how does feel…?
DS: It feels really good. I’m trying not to let it take me over. I don’t want to become that cocky junior because I’m still just Peter. I’m still that kid that just wants to rip, kill Strava segments and go fast. Mont-Ste-Anne was a good confidence boost coming to Worlds. That race gave me my front row start and the feeling like I deserve to be here. It feels fantastic to know I made it.

How much training do you do in general and did you do anything specific for these Worlds ?
DS: I do what I do. I enjoy going hard and I enjoy going fast. My coach, Kevin Simms, and I worked hard all year. My training consists of pages; each important race is the end of a page. Only that page matters for that race, then I turn the page and prepare for the next race. The chapter ends when the year ends and the book just keeps getting bigger. I have learned a lot about myself over the last two years. I found that mental preparation and performance is so important to my overall result. For example; during this race I was calm. I never once panicked. It was my race to win or my race to lose and I was in control. I rode my own race and it went fantastic.

How much different is mountain biking racing vs road racing where you’ve also excelled… ?
DS: Mountain bike racing is much more fun I find. I’m not fantastic at tactics on the road but tactics on a mountain bike are my favourite. The excitement of a mountain bike race with the fast starts, elbows out and technical features just make things so much better. I enjoy being aggressive. However the road is also great! I do enjoy large sprints and going hard for long periods of time. As for my result in the ITT this year, well that was just me going hard.

Talk about your family support – your brother Quinton is also doing well…
DS: Family support is key for me. My parents have supported me through everything that I have done – which is very important as I have to carry all of my expenses. My team support from Cycle Solutions, Norco and Angry Johnny has gotten me this far. I am excited to see what the future holds. As for my brother Quinton, he has to choose if he wants to become a great cyclist because no one will force him. Self motivation and drive are key to success and I am prepared to give him all the tools in the book to become a World Champion. The self belief that I have after this result makes me believe in my little brother even more. He’ll be able to make up 42 seconds for sure!

What’s on the agenda next… ?
DS: Next up is provincials in at my home course of Horseshoe Valley! That’ll be super awesome! As for other races I plan on doing some cyclo-cross throughout the fall. Other than that, I begin my adventure at the University of Guelph as soon as I return from South Africa. I am studying Water Resources Engineering. Should be a very fun year! Feel free to check out my website for blogs, videos and results: www.pwrper.com/peter

Thanks for spending time with us and congrats on your silver medal ride.
DS: Thank you

Race Results here.

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