Vero Widmann burst onto the World Cup scene by bagging a podium spot at her home World Cup in Val di Sole in 2018.

2019 saw Vero Widmann up her game, consistently landing inside the top 10, and getting herself on the box far more frequently, enough to take home a 3rd overall spot in the process.

Pete caught up with the rising Italian downhill star about breaking into the top ranks of elite downhill and plans for 2020.

Photos by Moonhead Media.

Who is Vero Widmann?

Vero Widmann is a girl from the Italian alps who is living her dream in racing bikes around the World.

What’s your background in cycling?

I started riding and racing XC when I was 12 years old. I didn’t have much to do with bikes before that but soon realised it’s that what I love.

What kind of stuff do you like riding?

As my background is XC I learnt my basic technical skills. The harder and more technical the track is, the more I like it.

Where was your first race?

My first downhill race was in 2011, a local race close to my home. It was also the South Tyrolian regional championship. I won the race and they have never repeated the race again… So I’m still the proud South Tyrolian Champion.

What’s your favourite place to ride?

This is a hard question. This world has so many amazing places to ride. Many of them are still on my list.

How did you gravitate towards downhill?

Well I was racing XC and realised quite soon that I’m more the technical kind of rider but still enjoyed XC for a few years. I got into proper downhill riding a bit later as a student, then started racing and loved it since then.

What does your training setup look like?

It’s a bit different in off-season or race season. This year we had so many races back to back that there was not really enough time to train a lot in between. Now is that time of the year again to think about next season. The winter training will be quite intense, with a lot specific gym exercises as well as skills training in the BMX track and of course a lot of enduro and downhill riding.

I have a good friend back home called Gu, he and his friends know the area and the best trails around Bozen and it’s great to ride with them.

What bike do you race on and do you have any weird setup preferences?

Last season I was racing on the Tues 29“ but we have been working together with Insync on a new prototype which you will see more of over the off season. My weird setup preference is that I like my fork quite firm and the rebound really slow.

How has being on a team helped you achieve your goals this year?

My whole team were a massive help achieving all my results, it was a huge team effort. Having Insync behind us and giving all their support was just the biggest help. I’m proud to work with such an amazing company and present their name.

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Harry as team manager and also boyfriend puts so much work in this and helps me out with everything from track walk to riding buddy to cook (which he is clearly the best of all of us).

Connor my mechanic not only being the best in fixing bikes but is also a big help on the psychological side of racing. Chris is always good for a laugh especially when you feel the pressure and Mark our videomaker is just the calmest but also such a funny, good guy and line-spotter. The team atmosphere was really good this year and I know I can be a pain sometimes but we all together just made it work. I will miss them in the off-season.

When did you race your first World Cup?

In Lourdes, 2015.

Are World Cups your main focus, or do you have other races you aim for as well?

Having Insync as a new partner this season was new for all of us. So we didn’t want to only focus on world cups. The IXS European cup is quite a high level series and also good for training and racing in between World Cups… So we decided to do a bit of everything.

I have to be honest, I really felt all these races at the end of the season. I think at one point we had 11 races in a row with only one weekend off. That was just crazy. And it’s not just hard on your body and very risky, it makes you also mentally so tired. For me it was so hard to keep focusing on the last two races in MSA and Snowshoe. It was a good season to learn from though. Next year I will set my priorities and possibly focus only on World Cups.

How hard is it as a privateer to break into the top 5 in at a World Cup?

I have to say I’m very lucky to be in a UCI team for the third year now. I see how other people do it as privateers and I know how hard it is because I started the same way. If a privateer breaks into the top 5, she‘d be on the radar of the teams and hopefully get the support she deserves the next season.

What does it mean to you to have a World Cup in your home country?

For me having Val di Sole as my home race is amazing. I love the track and racing in front of your home crowd is so cool. I wont lie, this year I felt the pressure, especially after qualifying third. It feels different racing to get a good result or if you are on for a podium.

What’s your favourite moment from racing World Cups so far?

There are a lot of amazing memories and moments. Coming though the finish line knowing it was a good run is priceless. My favourite moment was in Snowshoe when I realised I was 3rd overall.

Any crazy stories that won’t put anyone in jail?

Sorry it’s either jail sentence or boring stories. The craziest legal story I got is probably that I have beaten Joe Breeden in an arm wrestling twice.

Any disasters?

A disaster this year was my race run at worlds in MSA. In my run I just couldn’t get into a good rhythm, made mistakes and tried to push harder. Then made more mistakes and had a massive crash in the rock section. I’m so grateful though that I was able to get up and carry on from the crash. To top it off, I then had another crash at the bottom, overshooting a jump and crashed into the bushes. Luckily I was fine.

What are your plans for the rest of 2019?

I’ve just been on holiday in Sardinia, it was wonderful. Now I will get back into training and I think that’s pretty much the plan for the year.

What are you most looking forward to next year?

I’m looking forward to all the World Cup races and especially my local Val di Sole.

Any pleases and thank yous?

Thank you to the whole Insync racing team. To our sponsors my family, friends and to all of you out there cheering for us. Let’s have another great season in 2020.

Check out our Wise Words interview with Vero Widmann on our Features page here.

Keep tabs on Vero Widmann’s winter prep over on her Instagram feed here.

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