It’s Red Bull Rampage week! The world’s most renowned freeride mountain bike event has once again attracted the world’s best riders, one of whom is Thomas Genon, and their dig teams who are preparing for the big day of the finals, taking place on Friday, 25 October 2019. For the 14th time, the freeride spectacle will turn the Virgin, Utah area into the global headquarters of stoke, as riders throw down massive lines with huge tricks and send big drops in the iconic desert, guaranteeing an adrenaline-packed contest! For those of you not lucky enough to be out in Utah, you can watch the freeride throwdown on Red Bull TV – the broadcast starts at 18:00 (CEST): www.redbull.com/Red Bull Rampage
Besides some of the scene’s biggest names, like Andreu Lacondeguy, Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Ethan Nell and Rampage veterans like Kyle Strait, Kurt Sorge and Tyler McCaul, Belgian Slopestyle wizard Thomas Genon will be competing in his eighth Red Bull Rampage, where he’s finished within the Top 6 four times prior. After being forced to sit out most of the season due to injury and rehab, the Belgian will be looking to put down a strong run to complete his comeback. Can he prove his skills and talent on the big bike once again and celebrate his comeback in the best possible way? We sat down with the world-class Big Mountain rider to talk about his seven years of Red Bull Rampage.
Tommy G, let’s take it back a couple of years: what drove you to compete in Red Bull Rampage for the first time?
I’ve been competing on the FMB World Tour since 2010 and back in the days Red Bull Rampage was an FMB Diamond Event. In 2012, I wanted to try something new and experience something different, so I thought it would be a great event to challenge myself. Since then, I’ve been competing at every single Rampage.
What’s been your personal highlight of Rampage so far?
To be honest, my personal highlight has been just competing every single year, learning new things and making new memories every time. When I see and feel how much progress I make every year, that motivates me tremendously and pushes me every single time.
How did you develop through Red Bull Rampage?
Pierre Edouard Ferry taught me a lot about trail building, so when I started building my own line, I could put this knowledge to use and learnt new things at the same time. You only really learn how to do something once you do it yourself. That also includes making mistakes, because you learn from them and know what to do differently the next time.
Who is on your dig team this year?
Eliott Lapotre, who is joining me for the fourth time already, and Samuel Mercado. Check out Eliott Lapotre rides “Lost Paradise”.
What changes have you seen at Rampage over the years?
Red Bull Rampage has always been a unique event and my perspective on it has changed since I first started riding here. You learn a lot, both physically and mentally and every time I come back to the desert, I try to push myself harder, give more of myself than before and to make the most use of the experiences gathered over the years.
How have you seen riders develop during Rampage?
There are more and more riders who are challenging themselves at Rampage to put down a winning run, to push their own level to the limit. The overall level keeps going up and riders do everything they can to showcase the extremely high level that the sport has now.
Style or Line? What’s more important for you?
A good mix of style and riding is what’s needed. When I started out, tricks were more important to me, but that’s also because of my Slopestyle background, as it was easier for me to score points with tricks rather than line choice and big bike riding. But I altered my approach a few years ago, working on my riding technique as well as my line choice in order to get good scores in all aspects of Rampage.
How did you prepare for this years‘ contest?
Because of my shoulder surgery, this year was extremely challenging, both physically and mentally. The rehab process was long, and I had to get used to my bike and my skills again once I got back on the bike. Red Bull Rampage definitely helped to motivate me kick things into high gear and to get back on the bike as soon as possible and to get back to my old level of riding.
Have you changed the way how you prepare over the last few years?
I want to be better every single year, so depending on where I’m at with regards to my riding, my preparation changes year to year.
How have you developed as a rider?
Seven years at Rampage have taught me a lot. I know the terrain here and know what it takes to put down a good run. Thanks to the many years I’ve been competing here, I know my limits and know what I can and cannot do. This allows me to put my strengths to good use, but also to learn what my weaknesses are.
How do you set up your bike?
Only a few small changes – I put more pressure in my fork and ride with higher pressure in my tires.
What are you looking forward to most?
It’s been a long couple of months of waiting to go back to the desert. I can’t wait to make my way to the start gate and to drop in. That’s going to be epic!
What’s your goal this year?
I had to skip a lot of contests because of surgery and rehab, so I’m already stoked to just be at Rampage and to do what I love most once again. My goal is to have fun and to once again feel what it’s like to ride contests – that’s a special feeling.
Thanks a lot for taking the time, Tommy G and good luck!
Watch Red Bull Rampage action LIVE on Red Bull TV starting at 6 pm CEST on 25 October
© Photos by Dean Treml, Christian Pondella and Bartek Wolinski