joy and sorrow on the way to tokyo

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As I sit here thinking about the first few lines, my thoughts and emotions are literally overflowing. A cup of coffee helps to sort them out. The year 2021 - a team change, a championship title, and the Olympic Games. That's a short summary, but there are a lot of stories to tell, some of which I'll probably be telling for the rest of my life.


Recap 2021

October 2020 – That seems a bit of a stretch, but this is where the whole story begins. The Olympic Games - the goal of a long journey - were postponed to 2021, months to go, and so my focus shifted. For me, this has given me the chance to take another look at my path. My idea of joining an Austrian team and competing with an Austrian bike next year slowly took shape. If I make it to the Games, I want to give something back to the right people - those were my thoughts.


April 2021 – Spring. After a cold and wet start into the season at the KTM Kamptal Klassik Trophy I set off to Italy. A short trip to Verona for a C2 race. For the first time this spring, it is sunny and warm. You can literally feel the Italian flair in the city and around the racetrack. The atmosphere in the team is great, the race goes according to plan for me, and from that weekend on I was sure I had landed in the right team! At that time, I wouldn't have thought that my year would be so nerve-wracking.


May 2021 – World Cup. Since the beginning of the preparation for the season, 9th of May was marked red in my calendar. Not only because Albstadt was the start of the World Cup, but especially because the first two World Cups of the season were announced as qualifying races for the Olympics. In the previous year, I had already achieved two qualifying results, so my starting position was good. In Albstadt I wanted to finally fulfil my long wish of participating in the Olympic Games. Like so often, everything turned out differently.

The red-painted 9th of May started well. I was able to improve a few positions in the hectic start lap and was riding solidly in the top 25, which would have been enough for a fixed qualification. Would have, because in lap three I got a flat tire after choosing the wrong line and which forced me to stop in the technical zone for a wheel change. The whole procedure went quickly, and I could ride on, but far behind the promising position I was in before. Mentally, it was like a slap in the face. In a World Cup you don't just get 20 positions back like that and it was exactly this thought that wore me down for the rest of the race. Mental training and intensive preparation or not, I couldn't deal with it on that day. The week after I went on to the Czech Republic for a second chance.

With the first track check in Nove Mesto, the story of the previous week was forgotten, and I felt ready to deliver my full performance this time. The profile of the start loop always was a match for my riding skills. 100 metres on asphalt straight ahead, then just under three minutes on wide gravel, which offers some opportunities to work my way forward. As usual in important races, my head was completely empty from 15 minutes before the start. On a day like this, I usually only remember a few key moments. Those from this Sunday in the Czech Republic could be better. Immediately after the start I broke my chain and the whole field passed while rolling slowly along the start straight.

In the technical zone I got a new chain fixed in record time and started a chase to catch up. Unfortunately, my race ended a few laps later, after a heavy crash, in hospital. Over and out. Has it been the end of a year-long journey to Tokyo?

No! Only two days later I was nominated for the Olympic Games.

I was still the only Austrian to make two qualification limits. So, the journey was not over yet! My performance from the previous year became more important than I would have ever imagined. I would have imagined the qualification quite differently, but that's probably how it often is in life. Paths are created by walking them. Mine led me to Tokyo.


June 2021 – National Championship. An affair of the heart. So, the qualification was done, and with it all the pressure. But after I didn't show any results in the World Cups and, on top of that, this year's National Championships took place in Stattegg, barely ten kilometres away from my adopted home of Graz, the race was especially important for me on a personal level. The sun was shining for a beautiful early summer day, and I got crowned national champion for the first time ever in my career. At the finish line my parents, my coach and my team manager welcomed me to celebrate. It couldn't have been much better.

But There was no time for big party, because another day was already marked red on the calendar, 26th of July. Olympia.


July 2021 – Olympic Games

Graz. There was still a lot to do before the departure to Japan. Apart from various forms, tests and monitoring for safe games, the final preparation on the bike was of course the top priority. Fortunately, I had perfect conditions for this in Graz. Up to 34 degrees outdoors, combined with heat sessions on the roller in my own bathroom, should prepare me for the hot and humid conditions in Japan. Heat training is no fun, I can promise you that much. In theory, you should reach 40 degrees body temperature after 45 minutes and that's exactly how it felt. Every now and then I asked myself if this could really work. But there is no time for doubts in such a preparation. In the last eight days before the arrival, I set my clock and my biorhythm forward by 4 hours.

Tokyo. I have arrived in Tokyo. The first impressions? During the bus ride towards Izu Cycling Village, I first slept for an hour and then, after it still took us a while through the city, I could roughly imagine how big Tokyo is. The cycling disciplines had their own little Olympic village, secluded on a green-covered hill, with a view on Mount Fuji. Perfect for a quiet preparation away from the hustle and bustle of the media.

I took the most out of the track walk on the third day, and everything worked perfectly during the first course training the following day. We set up my bike, made the tire choice and I trained on site. Three days until the race.

The time went by incredibly fast, but there were only 5 days between arrival and the race. On the 30-minute bus ride back to the village after the last track training, with music in my ears and the view out over the bright green rice fields, nervousness really set in for the first time.

Final. On race day, my head was empty, as it often is. Again, I can only remember certain key moments. I could play out my strength at the start and, with a bit of courage, could make up a lot of positions on the far right, between the barriers and my opponents. I fought like hell and managed to stay focused during the whole hectic race. Finally, I crossed the finish line in 17th place. Happy about my result, proud of my performance. I came to Tokyo and got my personal maximum out of it. In retrospect, I wouldn't do anything differently.


Acknowledgements. The Olympic Games were my absolute highlight this year. What remains are the beautiful memories, and I have a lot of them this year. In July I had the honour of picking up my KTM Scarp Exonic Olympic Bike at the KTM HQ in Mattighofen. During a press conference, I also had the opportunity to visit the company and meet the management as well as the owner. 2020 it was my wish to give something back to the right people by participating in the Olympics and the appreciation I felt on that day ment a lot to me personally. Joining the KTM Factory MTB Team was the right decision, and I am proud to be a KTM athlete. I do not only want to thank KTM Bike Industries and my team, but also my family, friends, coaches, sponsors, support staff and companions.

My next big goals are set and soon there will be another story to tell.



About the person: 

Maximilian Foidl

Team: KTM Factory MTB Team

Born on 08.10.1995

Born in: St. Johann in Tyrol

Resident: Graz