Merle van Benthem | Netherlands | Rio Olympics

November 2016

merle-van-benthem-olympic-interview

After the disappointment of missing out on London, elite racer, Merle van Benthem, did not have an easy road to the Rio Olympics. Plagued with injuries and not always 100% fit, she, along with her Dutch team mate, Laura Smulders, fought hard on the UCI World Cup tour for every Olympic point. On the final day of May 2016, when the crucial UCI Olympic points where added up, they had secured the maximum two places for the Netherlands.

We caught up with Merle to see if the reality lived up to the dream and to take a closer look at the custom Meybo she took to South America …

15: So, after all the hype and two years of point gathering did the Olympics live up to the dream?

Merle: Yeah definitely, I didn’t really know what to expect at the Olympics but it was better than I imagined.

 

15: Did you feel extra pressure on the gate because it’s the Olympics or does that pressure fade once you qualify? The excitement level must be off the charts?

Merle: I was so excited to race at the Olympics because at the end this is the race I thought about every time I was injured. It was my dream … but on race day I approached this race the way I always do for big races.

 

15: What did you think of the track when you finally got to ride it? The test event didn’t go to plan.

Merle: The track was definitely way better than when we first got to ride it at the test event.  First couple laps on the rebuilt track I struggled a bit to get used to the green asphalt turns. Once I got used to it I thought the track was so much fun. One of the fastest tracks I’ve raced on.

merle-van-benthem-fifteen-interview-rio-olympics
merle-van-benthem-fifteen-interview-rio-olympics

“From winning races to all the hospital visits and from the fun times on trips to some break downs after injury, but everything finally paid off … I made the OLYMPIC TEAM!!!”

15: Reflecting back on the Rio experience, what was the stand out moment for you?

Merle: Everything about Rio was amazing.

 

15: Is Tokyo 2020 on your radar just yet or is it too far away to start thinking about?

Merle: Yeah, definitely. After a very disappointing result in Rio I’m determined to do better in Tokyo.

OLYMPIC BIKE CHECK:

Frame: 2016 Meybo Holeshot custom XXL

Forks: BOX X Series

Bars: BOX One

Stem: BOX Impact

Grips: ODI BOX

Headset: BOX Two

Seat: BOX Echelon

Cranks: BOX Vector 175mm

Gearing: 49/18

OLYMPIC BIKE CHECK:

Bottom Bracket: BOX Extremum Race Prep

Pedals: Shimano

Brake Caliper: BOX Eclipse V-Brake

Brake Leaver: BOX Genius

Front Hub: BOX 20mm

Rear Hub: SD Sniper

Rims: BOX Focus

Tyres: Tioga PowerBlock 1.75″

Plate: BOX Phase One #75

OLYMPIC BIKE CHECK:

Frame: 2016 Meybo Holeshot custom XXL

Forks: BOX X Series

Bars: BOX One

Stem: BOX Impact

Grips: ODI BOX

Headset: BOX Two

Seat: BOX Echelon

Cranks: BOX Vector 175mm

Gearing: 49/18

Bottom Bracket: BOX Extremum Race Prep

Pedals: Shimano

Brake Caliper: BOX Eclipse V-Brake

Brake Leaver: BOX Genius

Front Hub: BOX 20mm

Rear Hub: SD Sniper

Rims: BOX Focus

Tyres: Tioga PowerBlock 1.75″

Plate: BOX Phase One #75

15: Where is your Olympic bike now? Are you still riding it or is it hanging on a wall somewhere?

Merle: My Olympic bike is hanging underneath the SX hill at Papendal at the moment. I’m still riding it, only in good weather though.

 

15: Did the Dutch riders get to work with Meybo on how the bikes looked?

Merle: Not really, the guys at Meybo showed us the frame colours for the Olympics and it was love at first sight haha.

Merle van Benthem Fifteen Olympic bike - Merle van Benthem

15: Every BMX racer coming up through the ranks would have been looking at you in Rio, thinking ‘I want to be there’. What advice would you give to riders looking to achieve the Olympic dream?

Merle: Just have fun racing your bike and focus on each race instead of only focusing on the Olympics, I made the mistake in 2012 to only focus on the London games and I can say that turned into a disaster.  

 

15: What are your plans for 2017 season? Where will we see you get on the gate?

Merle: Well, first I want to recover well from all the injuries I’ve had. Once I’m in good shape again, I just want to race as many races as possible. The last couple years we have only been racing the important UCI point races to qualify ourselves for the Olympics, this year I just want to race a lot.

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Follow Merle van Benthem on: Instagram | FacebookWebsite

 

Photos: Merle van Benthem | Pro Gate Europe | Shimano | Fietscross Nieuws.com

 

merle-van-benthem-fifteen-interview-rio-olympics
merle-van-benthem-fifteen-interview-rio-olympics