Trent Jones #279
New Zealand’s Trent Jones is on the verge of something big …
22 DECEMBER 2015
No stranger to Worlds finals in his armature and Jr. Men days, Trent Jones has been getting faster and faster since he entered the Elite ranks in 2013. This year saw him make mains on the UCI Supercross tour and at the USA BMX Grands alongside the biggest names in the sport.
Currently New Zealand’s fastest and most consistent Elite racer on the World circuit, Jones looks odds on favourite to be on the gate in Rio when the Olympics roll around next August.
We suspect Jones is on the verge of something big for 2016 …
15: So straight off … you’re Irish! What’s the connection?
TJ: My parents were working in Limerick at the time building golf courses, I happened to be born there at that time.
15: Do you visit Ireland much since you moved to New Zealand? Do you have relatives here? The next time you come we’ll have to get you doing some clinics.
TJ: I’ve visited once since leaving, which was after Birmingham World Champs in 2012. No relatives but apparently my godmother is there?!? When I do get back there, I will for sure have to hold clinics. Looks like a few fun tracks popping up over there as I’ve seen online.
15: The 2016 Olympic year is almost upon us and New Zealand are currently ranked 13th in the qualification table. Are you confident that you guys can hold onto that last qualification spot or move up the table?
TJ: As a nation we’re 99% sure that we’ll hold onto that spot. Running a few mock scenarios, the nations below would have to do some serious damage to pass us, likewise if we were to move up into the ‘two rider’ qualifying spots.
15: If the worst happens and New Zealand drop out of the qualification spots for Rio, you, being ranked 15th at the moment would more than likely get one of the four spots for highest ranked rider from a non qualified country. That’s got to take the pressure off a little?
TJ: Personally I don’t see any pressure in the two year qualifying period. If you preform well enough against the rest of the world you’ll find yourself racing in Rio. Now having a lifetime of work come down to one race/one lap, that’s another story … but it’s certainly one I’m looking forward to reading.
15: If it came to the ‘highest ranked rider’ qualification route will Cycling New Zealand give that spot to you as you’re the highest ranked New Zealand rider (by quite a way) or do they have some other internal selection process in mind?
TJ: Cycling New Zealand can only nominate riders to the New Zealand Olympic Committee to be selected for Rio. One of NZL Olympic committee’s criteria to be selected for Rio is to have made a World Cup final, Which at this point in time I’m the only one who has done so for NZL.
15: Sarah Walker and Marc Willers brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the New Zealand Team, it must be inspirational training with the likes of them?
TJ: Most certainly! Those two have paved the way for BMX in NZL, which I have the up most respect for.
15: Will Willers be involved with the New Zealand Olympic Team in any way since his retirement from racing at the USA BMX Grands this year?
TJ: Not that I’m aware of.
15: The biggest Non Event of 2015, as it turned out, was the Olympic Test Event. What where you expecting before you arrived in Rio?
TJ: Obviously being first time to an Olympic venue you’re expecting this flawless track that you could only dream of. But being that BMX is a small community especially at the elite level you hear thoughts from test riders prior to the event. I certainly condition myself to brace for what we were about to try ride.
15: What did you think of the Rio track when you finally got to ride it? Was it as bad as we all heard?
TJ: All I’ll say is out of all the World Cups we have raced over 2015 it certainly was the worst flowing track by a long shot.
15: Elite Trax made some modifications to the track at the riders request and racing went ahead on Sunday, well briefly before the rain. Was the track any better? Do you think the Men should have raced the men’s second and third straight after the changes? A lot of riders seemed to have fun on it.
TJ: There certainly were a few riders enjoying the 2nd straight away for what its worth. If it were raced on it would have been another story. Especially seeing all the asphalt on the turns was not properly sealed so any form of aggressive turning and your tires would sink in and cut up like an old school dirt turn from the 80’s.
15: Do you think come next August the track will resemble what is there now or is a complete redesign on the cards?
TJ: There will be certainly a resemblance seeing the dirt they moved to create that layout of track on the location is rather impressive from a earth moving side of view but the actually jumps and placements of jumps should see a dramatic change.
15: You made big leaps forward during 2015, it’s been impressive to watch! You’re regularly beating the heavy hitters through the moto’s and quarters but seem to be unlucky in the semi’s although you have made a few finals. What event was your personal highlight during 2015? Nerang at the start of the year was great and you where killing it in Rock Hill.
TJ: Personally I don’t have any specific event of 2015 that’s a personally highlight as I see it as all personal progression towards a long-term goal. Obviously Sweden will go down in the books as first World Cup main, same with the Worlds In Zolder being my first Super Time Trail.
15: Speaking of Rock Hill, you held up the second moto for a long time with a mechanical. How did you stay focused up on the hill with other riders clearly wanting to go, officials looking at their watches and no bike to be seen? You got an impressive 2nd after all that, right?
TJ: Yea I ended up 2nd with my brakes locked on the entire lap. Lets just say it was the longest lap of the day for sure. But it certainly didn’t stressed me out seeing I won the moto before.
15: Are riders generally happy to sit and wait in those situations (given the rain and all) or were you getting abuse up there?
TJ: Well I can’t imagine anyone was happy with that or myself. But I’d like to think as a rider you do have a form of respect for another with occasions like that. What really set the riders off was the lane draw official saying one thing followed by gate start official doing another when they started the cadence and cancelled it half way through.
15: We think you’re on the verge of a BIG breakthrough for 2016, your confidence has got to be sky high now after a solid finish to 2015 at the USA BMX Grands?
TJ: Obviously I was stoked to make my first Grands main but then on second thoughts was disappointed seeing I underperformed in those laps. You live and you learn so 2016 certainly should see some better rides on those last laps of the race day.
15: What are your plans for early 2016, we assume it’s New Zealand’s goal to try push up the table in the hopes of 2 male Olympic spots. Does that mean the full UCI Supercross World Tour in search of those points? USA BMX National series?
TJ: Current plans is spending 3 months in Sydney training with coach Sean Dwight before the first world cup kicks off. Then playing my cards a bit more specifically in terms of targeting races in the states and world cups before Rio, as I did all the hard yards chasing races week in week out for points in 2015.
15: Do you enjoy life on the road? Is it all BMX or do you get time for anything else? You must have spent most of 2015 away from home.
TJ: Life on the road certainly has its ups and downs. Especially spending 10 months on the road pinging between Europe and America like in 2015. I’d say 95% of the time its all bikes but occasionally I decided to be Timmy tourist for a day or two.
15: Are there any particular rounds of the SX tour your looking forward to … or not as the case may be?
TJ: Any SX that’s held in sunny, no wind conditions is one to look forward to in my eyes. Been rough the past two years seeing every world cup has the perfect conditions the week before when we all arrive. Then packs a sad week of racing.
15: Do you plan on going to the Worlds in Colombia next May? The new track looks pretty good.
TJ: Certainly am, Think I’m due to put a single digit number on my plate for a year. Colombia will be a good place to do so.
15: Who would you prefer not to be on the gate beside? Would you pick an outside gate to avoid someone down the first straight?
TJ: Focusing on whoever is next to you is irrelevant seeing you cannot control them. But there is an element of tactical placement within the gate and first straight. A lot of people forget that the finish line isn’t in the first turn.
15: Other than when you tried to skin yourself alive during the final in Angelholm, 2015 has been relatively injury free … 2014 on the other hand was not so good. We watched through our fingers at the Worlds in Rotterdam at your explosion on the first straight and then saw the images of tubes coming from your side. How do you mentally deal with injuries and the time off the bike?
TJ: Sweden was rough. Two weeks of painful showers and uncomfortable sleeps. But would trade that over 2014 worlds with my collapsed lung any day. Time off the bike is the big killer, I think refocusing and resetting goals short term wise is the biggest thing. The faster you except the fact its happened, learn the mistake that caused it and move forward the easier it is.
15: The next couple of UCI Worlds are on big outdoor tracks, after your comments at the time about the Rotterdam track we assume you prefer the outdoor open tracks over the tight indoor ones we had in Holland, New Zealand and England?
TJ: Most certainly, An 8 metre high start hill is made for speed. Throwing us into a cramped arena is defeating the purpose of a Supercross hill. I don’t mind indoors as long as the gate is on the ground. Then you’ll get the quality racing come though.
15: You’ve been involved with BOX Components for a few years but you’ve recently signed to their full BOX Factory Pro Team. How did that come about?
TJ: I guess Willers and our NZL team have been heavily involved with BOX. With myself spending a lot of time in the states I’ve had a lot of direct dealings with Michael at BOX. Things only snowballed from there over time of course, I couldn’t happier.
15: Your new Thrill / BOX bike looks stunning, how does it ride? Do you think much of the result comes down to your equipment and set up, Willers has talked a lot about drag, or is all about the hard work you put in before the event?
TJ: Certainly rides the way I want it to. If anyone knows me personally regarding bike setups I’m rather fussy with things being set up to the exact millimetre. I’m happy to be able to be riding for someone that the frame meets my needs also. I think there is an element of keeping rolling resistance down to a minimal but overall confidence and trust in the equipment that it can do the job at hand is more the bigger impact on performance.
15: Best of luck next year, everyone in Ireland is following you … if the whole New Zealand thing doesn’t work out we have an Irish jersey here with your name on it. Just say the word 🙂
TJ: Thanks for the interview! More importantly the constant support from the home away from home. To be honest I’ve always wanted an Irish jersey, they are certainly rare items in the BMX world. But who’s to say I couldn’t be riding in one for 2020 Tokyo …