Leonardo Paez is one of the world's undisputed champions of Cross Country Mountain Bike.
In the 2023/24 season, he's with Team Soudal Lee Cougan, which has chosen to use Ursus wheels for the MTBs of its professional athletes.
From his wins this season to his change of trainer, the difficulties he's experienced during races and his feedback to Ursus on our wheels for his competition bike, here's our interview with Leonardo Paez.
I: You're having an extremely intense season with plenty of wins: your eighth Hero Südtirol Dolomites, the Alpentour, the Dolomiti Superbike, the World Cup etc.
How does a champion like you train for such a physically demanding season?
Leonardo Paez: “Yes, it's been an intense season with lots of great wins. There have also been plenty of difficult days, but I love riding my bike, I still have so much fun, and that motivates me to overcome all the obstacles and achieve my goals.
My training has been a bit different this year, in that I've changed trainers, and for me that was really key to finding a balance, being more confident... and more motivated to train and enjoy my bike rides.
I do gym work, intensive training, techniques and long MTB and road routes. I watch my diet and try to get good rest every day. The training builds up according to the race season, and we try not to overdo it, so we're at our best for the important ones".
I: Competition is mentally exhausting too.
What challenges have you had to face?
Leonardo Paez: “Yes, competitions always bring big challenges, and this year I've competed in races where concentration was really important. Races can suddenly change for the better or worse, and we need to be prepared for anything.
In the second XCM World Cup race I had physical issues and almost pulled out, but I stuck at it. In fact, I challenged myself to get my body to the end of the race. The XCM World Cup in Scotland was another personal challenge, since I had the chance of getting a medal. But unfortunately an unexpected fall broke the cord of the Boa system fastening my shoe; that lost me a lot of time, and I tried to complete the race as best I could.
I was also really unlucky in the final World Cup race. I had mechanical problems due to too much mud. I wanted to give up, but I didn't, and that put me on the podium with third place overall.
The mental aspect is crucial; I'm very lucky to have special people around me who motivate me and believe in me".
I: With Team Soudal Lee Cougan you've chosen some top-quality Ursus products for competitions.
What's your feedback on the Diablo MTB wheels?
Leonardo Paez: “Yes, we always look for the best for our competitions, and with Ursus' Diablo wheels I found the right combination of fluid movement, rigidity and resistance to stress during the race. For me it's very important to be able to trust in such a high-performance product".
I: What about the Magnus HX.01?
Leonardo Paez: “I'd never used an integrated handlebar before, and I liked it immediately. It's rigid, and I feel I can steer my Lee Cougan bike wherever I want; I like having such a strong, comfortable grip".
I: How important is it in a race to have a high-performance bike and superior wheels and accessories?
Leonardo Paez: “It's extremely important to have a high-performance bike, because these days competitions are tougher and athletes are increasingly better prepared. Every little thing makes a difference, and in my view having high quality equipment is essential".
Ursus: superior quality MTB wheels and handlebars, Made in Italy
Paez and Team Soudal Lee Cougan choose these Ursus accessories for mountain bikes:
- Ursus Diablo MTB carbon wheels;
- Ursus Magnus HX.01 integrated handlebars with stem angle up to -30°C.
All Ursus products are the result of a meticulous process of design, testing and constant improvement, thanks to collaboration among our in-house R&D team and feedback from the professional athletes and teams who choose our mountain bike accessories.