Cross-country (XC) cyclist Greg Saw from the Norwegian Hard Rocx ABAX Racing Team is preparing for the new season Down Under. ABAX spoke with him before the season starts.

Greg Saw has brought his family back home to Queensland, Australia where it all began. We asked him a couple of questions about last year’s season, expectations for the new season and mechanical doping in cycling.

You are back in Australia and have swapped your winter gloves for sunglasses. Can you tell us a bit about how your off season has been so far?

My off season has been spent staying with my mother who has seen very little of me or my family over the last 15 years. We live next to the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, a multimillion dollar mountain bike park, 50 km of manmade single-tracks. The Atherton Tablelands has been a great place to explore on the bike - tropical rainforest and also dry hot dusty trails. There has been dry and hot weather and luckily no cyclones or monsoons, even though the farmers need the rain.

I have been free of injury/illness and there has been no accidents. I'm planning to travel to the alpine country Canberra 4000 km away, and start the Australian Marathon Series.

Tell us a bit about your favourite training sessions and how you prepare for the new season?I have a favourite! A ten minute FTP ( Functional Threshold Training) climb on gravel, up into the rainforest. Then descending down again on a flowing single-track called Yahoo Wahoo, designed and built by Glen Jacobs of World Trail(link). I do that 3 times, in sometimes up to 36 degrees heat, then I ride 15 min to the Atherton’s Frappe bar. You need an ice cold drink. It's mango season!

Training is about just tapping away a little everyday... Some days are very long, some are short. Some days I use a watts monitor to try and raise my threshold power with specific intervals. Some days I use it to keep the power down.I read a lot of articles about training and diet research because I'm interested… I'm thinking more about personal training. I will start with very personal coaching - Better Training Terms. I think I have a good idea of what it's like to balance a wife, job, kids, travels - with elite results having done so for longer than most!

How did you and your team experience the 2015 season?

Thomas Engelsgjerd won the Norway Cup, I broke the long standing speed record at Farrisrunden. I Won Raumerittet solo, just missed out on Montebellorittet with a few seconds. Thomas and I finished 1st and second in 3 or 4 races. We both raced the Crocodile Trophy around Cairns, Australia . Thomas showed potential but was mostly recovering from a nasty Stage 1 crash on his face.

I was in good form but also suffered from a small stomach bug, which  started the same day as the race. That made the race really hard for me - I had to back off.

We both finished the last Stage 9, 4th and 5th place. Overall there were 4 national Champions in the top 4. Swiss, Danish, Australian, Italian.  I finished in 6th place overall.

Tell us about the 2016 season – Who should we look out for and who will your biggest competitor be this year?I will focus on the Norwegian Cup Marathon, Thomas wants to race in more International main events, so is trying to be selected for the National Marathon team for the WC and EC.We have a new champion on the team. Young and technically fast - Norwegian Cycle cross Champion Fredrick Haraldseth.The main competition will come from some young/new participants and main team rivals like Sepura-Toyota Racing. The Norwegian Champion in the marathon is full time on a small road Pro team and not often seen racing, but unbeatable. However, I did beat Carl Fredrick at Skipvets Rittet in June because the short-short climbs suited me.

What about yourself and the Hard Rocx ABAX Racing Team? What do you expect from yourself and the team as a whole?I have not focused on the Norwegian Cup for a few years. I have won it 3 times, but I think at 38 years old it will be a worthy challenge to try win it again. Now my 10 year old son wants to start racing too!Thomas wants to go into top 20 in the big races - it all depends on who's at the start list! At the WC, every marathon expert is there. Going to an empty World Cup race holds no significance!

We know that results in our back yard are important!  Hard Rocx racing will cover marathon, XC racing and Cycle cross in the winter. Fredrick is also XC sprint Champion, he can podium any type of race in Norway - 5th at Birken on his Cycle cross bike! I want to be a fat bike champion in the future!

- Recently there has been a lot of talk about mechanical doping – what’s your thoughts on this and do you expect this to be an increasing problem in cycling?No real surprise there! Most Norwegian and “everyday folk" don't understand the complexities of big dirty business! Cycling has a past like catching the damn train to try and win the Tour de France! Mechanical cheating is way more lame than blood doping that's for sure! I now wonder about all the YouTube rumours on Fabian Cancellara and Ryder Hesjedal.

Inside Sports and big business there are criminal minds too. In current Australian football AFL and tennis, people are in trouble for doping and match fixing. The most successful Racehorse trainers in Australia have been banned for horse doping!Now, they have even created special magnets in the back wheel of the bicycles to make them rotate faster!

-Can you tell us a bit about the Hard Rocx bike you will be using in 2016 – any new features or technical improvements compared to last year’s model?No real changes. XTR electric shifting. No motor in the crank;)The bike was a success last year. The only real changes are that the wheel axles are thicker for stiffness. The team riders are using a prototype dual suspension bike from Hard Rocx with 100mm back suspension - it's what I use in Australia with so much single-tracks. I will most likely try and race the Australian Championships in Marathon mid-April. There is a world cup XC race also in April, just an hour drive to Cairns but the track is the most intense on the whole World Cup circuit.

Not sure what I should do...enter or spectate?

Thanks to Greg Saw, Hard Rocx ABAX Racing Team

Photos: Greg Saw

/Kenneth Hansen