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Interviewed by Vittoria staff, Elisabeth Brandau talks about her passion for cycling, her career as pro-rider and her daily life. Read the interview of the German National Cyclocross Champion:
How did you fall in love with cycling? And when did you decide you wanted to become a pro-rider?
I love cycling since ever. When I was a child I always wanted to ride on my bike everywhere. I was a very active kid and liked all kind of sports. Via some episodes in gymnastics, judo and swimming I started with road cycling when I was 14. In the Junior category I was very successful and became 2-times German Champion. After this period I started my apprenticeship, nevertheless I was still cycling, but not in competition only just for fun. In that time I explored MTB-cyling. Friends of mine pushed me for my first MTB-Marathon and I got racing licence from the regional federation. In my first MTB-License year I became immediately German Champion in the Marathon category and the coach of the German MTB national team chose me for the national team. Since then I was more focused on XCO. Since 2008 I became several times German Champion in the MTB-Marathon category, Sprint and CycloCross. And also runner-up in XCO. 2015 and 2017 were quieter from a sportive perspective, due to the birth of my two sons in these years.
Pro rider, team manager and mother: how can you combine all these crucial roles?
In reality it´s hard to combine all those “jobs”. Honestly, without my husband and my family (parents and parents in law) it would not be possible to do all of that. I do my best and set priorities. In the morning I make a list of all the things need to be done (e.g. Kindergarten, baby swimming, training, bike-fitting, office time, studying,…) and then I plan my daily schedule. Sometimes I forget things or I cannot finish them. Of course, there care better ways to handle all of this, but I´m not able to keep in mind everything and sometimes I need to be reminded by somebody else.
What discipline do you prefer: cyclocross or cross-country? What skills you need for both disciplines in particular?
I have learned that the requirements of the different disciplines are not that different. For XCO I need more technical skills, which help me also in CycloCross for instance.
I like CycloCross the most. It´s short and not that dangerous as XCO. And very important – it´s much more interesting and entertaining for the spectators.
Concerning tires selection: what aspects do you consider when choosing the best tire for your race?
In general a good tire for racing should be very light and puncture proof. But light and puncture proof is often not possible. So for me it´s very important to know the race track. Are there sharp edges or rocks on the ground or is it a more “puncture proof” track (without sharp edges or rocks). However I always take the tire tread in consideration. It should provide a lot of Grip and less rolling resistance. Additionally for XCO I look for a tire with especially grip and wider dimensions; for Marathon I prefer a tire with low rolling resistance. In CX I take always the same tread (until now), because I know how the tire react in several conditions, especially with low tire pressure. Of course the tire pressure is also a key point to consider on the race track.
Elisabeth uses Vittoria Terreno Mix and Mezcal tires.