Interview with Manuel Lettenbichler
The 18 years old Manuel Lettenbichler from Kiefersfelden in Germany is one of the young guns who are closing in on the established big names in Extreme Enduro. He’s got the skills to ride bikes in his DNA: Andreas “Letti” Lettenbichler is his proud father who gave him guidance in the early years – resulting in three national titles in Trials. There couldn’t be a better coach for Manuel also in the Hard Enduro world since Letti won races such as Red Bull Romaniacs and scored podium finishes at almost all the big international Hard Enduro races.
Manuel, before we get started: Congratulations on your SuperEnduro Junior World Champion title!
Manuel: Thank you! It simply was a superb season which I didn’t expect that way. The feeling in Spain after the first heat was unbelievably good – nobody can take that away from me, it’s real. Argentina didn’t really fit my style but the rest of the races did very well. Yes, I’m still very happy about this title early in the season. Big thanks to Red Bull who pulled me into their team of athletes late last year – this means a lot to me and is the basis for me to fully concentrate on my sport!
You suffered from an injury that occurred right before Erzbergrodeo.
Manuel: Right, 3 weeks prior to the Erzbergrodeo I twisted my knee during a training session. I was lucky however because the some ligaments were stretched but not really torn which required time to heal up which pulled me out for about 6 weeks – but not 6 months.
You recovered for Red Bull Romaniacs but had some bad luck there.
Manuel: Right on the first day I broke my thumb, tried it on the second and third day to keep it going but had to call it quits on the third. Too bad, but these things can happen and I concentrated on getting back on track as fast as possible to get back into the game for Red Bull 111 Megawatt in Poland. This was a really tough, tiring and fast race. There were some nasty, sandy uphill sections that got more and more difficult to ride the longer the race lasted. I made a little mistake in the last lap and lost a bit of time on Taddy (Blazusiak) but still managed to come in 6th ahead of Alfredo Gomez – so I have to be happy with this result.
How do you prepare for races such as Red Bull Sea to Sky?
Manuel: It’s a combination of training both, strength and endurance. I live in southern Bavaria and it just takes me 2 minutes to get to the next mountain so I do a lot of mountain biking for endurance training and an average of 1,000m in altitude difference in one ride – which helps quite a bit at Red Bull Sea to Sky because we’re going all the way up to the finish at 2,365m in Turkey. In addition to that I’m trying to spend as much time as possible on the enduro bike to get into the flow – daily sessions on different tracks to work on technical stuff as well as the speed.
Looking back you’ve had a special moment during Edition 6 of red Bull Sea to Sky in 2015 beating your father Andreas „Letti“ Lettenbichler for the first time during a race!
Manuel: Yes, that was a special moment indeed. I got into a really good rythm during the Forest Race last year which was not too tecnical, could push it all the way and came in 4th – meaning I could start in the first row in the Mountain Race. It really was a good feeling but beating my father I didn’t expect it to happen that early to be honest.
So I started in the first row in the Mountain Race and the first half of the race went well, I battled with Paul Bolton and Blake Gutzeit for 5th position and was even able to close in on my dad. When getting to the Canyon I had some problems and had to let them go. After the second tank stop however I had to ride in the first gear for the rest of the race because of a crash that resulted in damaging the clutch cover and losing all of the oil. Obviously I lost speed due to that problem but still finished 10th. So I could have done better at Red Bull Sea to Sky but am still happy with the overall results considering the circumstances.
What do you think about Red Bull Sea to Sky in general?
Manuel: I love it – 3 days and 3 styles, it’s a great mix. The terrain is challenging with all the rocks in any shape and form and landscape is beautiful. With the beach and the good weather it does feel a bit like being on vacation – despite the fact you’re racing and competing at the highest international standards.
What are your expectations for Edition 7 in 2016?
Manuel: I’ve learned quite a bit since last year and am in a better shape but I guess that it might be a bit tougher this year. Sure I will go flat out and I want to make it to the top 5, podium would be huge. The competition is getting more and more intense, there are new guys getting into the picture like Billy Bolt who did a great job at Erzberg. I’m really looking forward to that battle in Kemer!