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Professional sport is increasingly mentally draining

We know that professional sport is tough, but in recent years it seems to have become exasperated: two of the biggest stars in the women's category have announced that they will not be present at the first two events of the World Cup XCO.


That elite sport is demanding on both body and mind is nothing new. But the fact that two of the biggest stars in the women's category have announced that they will not be present at the first two events of the World Cup XCO it makes you think. They are Samara Maxwell and Ronja Blöchlinger, both young talents in the world XCO.

Neither Samara Maxwell nor Ronja Blöchlinger will be at the start of the World Cup XCO in Brazil. In the midst of the Olympic year, both decided to prioritize their mental health to be ready during the season.

Samara Maxwell is the current under-23 world champion and was the great signing of the Decathlon Ford Racing Team in the latter part of last season. He even had time to win a World Cup event with his new Rockrider 940 S. Maxwell is currently in her home country of New Zealand, where she has continued to compete with great success, so much so that last week she was proclaimed champion of Oceania, beating Zoe Cuthbert and Rebecca Henderson.

Samara Maxwell
Samara Maxwell – credits: UCI MTB World Series

Despite this, Maxwell prefers to take things slowly and redo his schedule so he can work on his mental health to be able to perform at key times of the year and this appears to involve skipping the first World Cup trials XCO.


Something similar happens with Ronja Blöchlinger, a Swiss under 23 biker who won all the Short Track races in the category in 2023. In this case, the biker herself explained her personal situation.

Bad timing for the lesson I'm learning: my brain needs a real offseason but it's not the right time of year as I'm about to enter a new season of mtb racing. Since the beginning of the year I have had some difficulties with my health. My brain needed a good rest from everything. So he just went into the offseason without asking my permission. This was difficult for me to understand, because my motivation and passion for the sport was and still is very high. But when I look at the current situation with some distance, I now understand why my brain boycotted.
Being a professional athlete, studying sports science, managing and organizing my whole life and all my appointments, traveling a lot, cooking several times every day, spending some time with the people I love… All these things need a lot of brain energy. And even though I enjoy all the things I do (except grocery shopping), it was too much on my mind.

This is why I will not participate in the two Swiss races in Gränichen and Rivera. I will also miss the first two rounds of the World Cup in Brazil, so I can fully concentrate on my recovery. Luckily I have the best support of amazing people around me. A huge thank you! – Ronja Blöchlinger



Written by

[email protected] I am a fan of everything that has 2 wheels: at a young age I practiced road and track cycling (Italian Allievi champion). At the age of 18 I passed into the cross country competing at national/international level as an Under23. Past Elite, I made the choice to take things more lightly from a training point of view, and my love for gravity disciplines was born, training me as an FCI MTB instructor and guide. Now I have made passion my profession by managing 2 MTB centers on the island of Elba (Bike Center Elba and Elba MTB), creating the FANTAmtb and telling in an ironic but professional way everything that revolves around MTB thanks to 365mountainbike and 365TV (YouTube'PULITI dentro BIKER fuori').

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