With Trek Bicycles, the team of Atherton Racing has got a new bike sponsor for the 2016 season. They had some successful years with GT Bicycles, including several wins of the Belgian super talent (!) and youngster Martin Maes. But the EWS top 10 rider won’t follow the Atherton family to Trek and will leave the team. For further information read the press release of Atherton Racing about the future of Martin’s career and the progression he did the past years.

The fast Belgian youngster if one of the biggest talents  in mountainbike-racing these days.
The fast Belgian youngster if one of the biggest talents in mountainbike-racing these days.

We’re sad to wave goodbye to our young Belgian superstar Martin Maes who’ll be leaving the team at the end of this year. But we’re all over the moon about his new signing! We’ve been sworn to secrecy but what we can say is that we’re stoked for him. Team director Dan Brown said, “We’re stoked. It is the perfect step for Martin and we’re confident that he’s in the best possible hands at this stage of his career.”

When Martin joined us in 2012 he was just 15 years old and a virtual unknown. Son of Patric Maes (holder of no less than twenty-three Belgian Bike Championships) young Martin won his first cross country aged just six. In 2012, his super-aggressive style caught Dan Atherton’s eye at Superenduro of Nations at Sauze d’Oulz when he laid waste to some of the toughest and most experienced adult riders on the circuit to finish 5th – just one place behind Dan himself. Training with Dan as part of our Atherton Academy soon paid dividends for Martin who caused a sensation when he took 6 out of 7 junior wins in the inaugural Enduro World Series of 2013 finishing the season 2500 points in front of the field. Matteo Nati was Martin’s mechanic that year, he said “When Martin joined the Atherton Academy he wasn’t well known, people would ask me who I thought would be top 5 at EWS and I’d always say Dan and Martin – they’d believe me about Dan but they were pretty surprised when this youngster was right up there with him!”
The lack of meaningful competition in the Junior ranks led EWS organisers and Team Director Dan Brown to agree with Martin that he should race 2014 in the General Classification – even though he qualifies as a Junior through the 2015 season. Even with school and exams to contend with Martin finished the season in 10th overall – riding in the GC against riders twice his age!

We're all excited about Martin's future! We at Enduro Mag let you know as soon as we know more.
We’re all excited about Martin’s future! We at ENDURO Magazine let you know as soon as we know more.

2014 also saw Martin try his luck at Downhill – his first international DH race won him a World Cup at Fort William, there were a lot of tears, and celebration in equal measure. Andrew Setchfield was Martin’s wrench this year, a steadying influence when Dan was forced to miss Nevados de Chillan with a broken leg. Andrew said, “It’s awesome to see Martin’s talent and his progress on the bike, people forget that he is racing the GC when really he qualifies as a junior for 2 more seasons.” It was about this time that Martin’s English got distinctly more colourful under Setch’s terrible influence!

In 2015 Martin won another DH World Cup at Fort William, he won the Sea Otter Dual Slalom, cementing his reputation as an awesome all-rounder and he moved up the Enduro World Series GC rankings to 6th overall, not bad for a junior! Fellow Belgian Mark Maurissen had taken over the reins as Martin’s mechanic this year, an extra special relationship for Martin as Mark had raced with Patric back in the day! 2015 also saw Martin’s first GC podium, we all agree it was well overdue!

The last word on such a successful and progressive (not to forget super-funny) three years must go to chief mentor Dan Atherton. Dan said, “Martin is not only a phenomenon as a rider but the best team mate that we could ever have wished for, he was pretty shy when he started with us here, but we’ve watched him develop into a serious contender for an Enduro World Series win this season. – and a non-stop talker!
We’ll be cheering him on all the way.”

Martin developed a lot as a rider and as a person through the past years with Atherton Racing.
Through the past years with Atherton Racing Martin developed from a shy guy to a top EWS contender.

Words: Atherton Racing Photos: Sven Martin

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