Mona Mitterwallner wants to be the best rider in the world, and she has the right team to guide her
“The first thing someone should know about me is that I’m really, really ambitious,” 19-year-old Mona Mitterwallner says. “I don’t know why, but it’s in my blood. No matter what I do, I want to be the best in that.”
Mitterwallner has big dreams. The 2020 junior world champion is in Albstadt getting set to race her first World Cup. That experience could be overwhelming for such a young rider, but Mitterwallner has already proven that she has what it takes to compete at an elite level. This past weekend, she won the first Swiss Cup race of the year in Leukerbad ahead of Kate Courtney and Pauline Ferrand Prevot, winners of the last three elite world championships.
In Trek Vaude, she may have found the perfect team to guide her through the blossom stages of her career. The team took on Trek as a title sponsor in 2021, and has a roster of seven riders with a wide range of experience. The oldest, Charly Markt, is 41 years old, more than twice Mitterwallner’s age.
Training alongside riders with so many different backgrounds is invaluable to a young rider.
“You can ask them questions. ‘Which tire? What do you think?'” Mitterwallner says. “When I started cycling, so five years ago, these people were like stars to me, and now riding together with them, it’s a really cool experience. With Alex Miller, he is from Namibia, it’s really interesting to talk to him about his country and what that’s like. I’m a really open-minded person, and I love to learn new things and I love to train with others.”
Trek Vaude’s long term goal is to become an incubator for up-and-coming XC talent. They’re off to a good start with four promising riders under 24 years old — alongside Mitterwallner there is also 23-year-old Philip Handl, 22-year-old Antonia Daubermann and 21-year-old Miller. The older riders like Markt, 33-year-old Sascha Weber and 29-year-old Gregor Raggl act as mentors to a new generation while still vying for podiums.
I don't know why, but it's in my blood. No matter what I do, I want to be the best in that.
- Mona Mitterwallner
Markt and Raggl live near Mitterwallner in Austria, allowing them to train all together. Mitterwallner has to push herself to keep up with her veteran teammates.
“If I’m riding with Charly Markt, he’s about 20 years older than me, he’s riding really fast,” Mitterwallner says. “And if you also have to ride faster, it makes you fast. And that’s a thing I love.”
Mitterwallner clearly isn’t afraid of a big stage, but the spotlight will be extra bright in Albstadt. She believes that the hilly course on what’s expected to be a muddy track should suit her, but she knows that she won’t be catching anyone off guard.
“I just rode with the best elites and of course the pressure is on now,” Mitterwallner says. “I will do my best as always, but no one knows what happens. It’s never easy to get first place on the finish line.”
Mitterwallner knows she can’t win every race. What’s important is that she has found her calling. Mitterwallner competed in hockey and volleyball before finding cycling. She did her first race just six years ago, when she came in second in a sprint. From then on, she knew she wanted to become the best rider in the world.
Just the feeling I get when I go uphill and also in the downhill, it's the best feeling I ever had.
- Mona Mitterwallner
But Mitterwallner appreciates the bike for more than the thrill gives her when she races. It helps her explore her world and satiate her determined curiosity.
“I just love to be outside. And it’s also the feeling that cycling gives you,” Mitterwallner says. “In Tyrol, it’s really beautiful. After school, in one hour, you can be in the most beautiful places. Just the feeling I get when I go uphill and also in the downhill, it’s the best feeling I ever had.”
You can watch the first World Cup race of the season for FREE just by heading over to Red Bull TV (time and event information in the link).