British born Tahnée Seagrave moved to Morzine, France when she was 7 years old, which is where her passion for mountain biking ignited. To support their daughter's ambition, and nurture her talent to be the future world cup champion, her parents Tony and Jo, founded FMD racing (Follow My Dream) in 2009.
Earlier this year, Tahnée teamed up with the CoppaFeel Charity to raise awareness for Breast Cancer, and encouraging women to regularly check their breasts and know what to look out for. I thought this was a fantastic campaign and what better way to raise money than raffling off her Devinci custom made downhill bike and custom racing kit from the UCI World Cup at Fort William!
We've seen Tahnée rise up through the junior ranks, finishing 2013 off as Junior World Cup winner, and enter the Elite category in 2014 amongst riders such as Manon Carpenter and Rachel Atherton. Now we're in the midst of her 2nd year as an elite rider, and she's already proving to be one to watch out for as she was hot on the heels of Rachel Atherton at Fort William and Leogang in the UCI World Cup, coming in 2nd place both times. So what's next for this young athlete....
Hi Tahnée! Massive congratulations on the awesome run at both Fort William and Leogang despite the torrential weather and the churned up tracks, you came 2nd at both events and achieve your best world cup time. How was it for you, and did you struggle with the back-to-back weekends?
Thanks! The only struggle with back to back weekends is the travel in between. You really have to be smart about recovery to not feel overly tired for the next one. So sleep, nutrition and stretching are a big focus!
Fort William is just great. It just feels like home. The people that turn up to watch are so passionate and so supportive that it just makes you so proud and confident, which makes me relaxed and at ease!
It’s funny, because I used to hate both tracks at Fort William and Leogang. Then I learnt to race them properly, and just deal with the fact that there is nothing you can change. That’s not my job. My job is to ride down said track going as fast as I can. Whether I like it or not. So, in time, they both grew on me and I now love them! Fort William is so challenging and you really have to be smart to carry speed, trying not to use all your energy before you get to the tough parts. And Leogang is a bike park type track, although the changes this year made it a lot more technical, mixing things up! I loved them both.
At the time, I felt lucky at Fort William. I was 50/50 on that track and after puncturing in qualifiers there was no stopping me. Leogang felt like it was a lot more fair and square. I’m a racer, and a competitive soul so I’m never going to be satisfied with a second place ;-)
With 2nd place podium finishes in Round 2 and 3, how do you feel going into Round 4 at Lenzerheide, Switzerland as this is a new track to the World Cup calendar?
Words cannot describe my excitement! I’m just like one big balloon ready to pop!
You did an awesome job raising over £10,000 for the CoppaFeel Charity and promoting breast cancer awareness. How did this affect your mindset for riding at Fort William, and did you feel that you raced harder for it?
I got a lot more wrapped up in it then I initially thought. I absolutely loved working with Coppafeel and loved seeing so many people eager to help and so excited to win my stuff. It definitely took priority that weekend although it didn’t affect my race head.
I’ve always wanted to raise money for a charity, and with my profile boosting I thought it was a great time. A friend of Dads had spoken to him about Coppafeel and we thought it was just perfect. Reminding people to check themselves regularly to save lives.
I didn’t think about it, but I do think that it happened subconsciously. Everyone was putting so much effort in, I needed to prove that I was too!
There seems to be a lot of friendly rivalry between the girls, how are you finding your second year of Elite level riding with them? Any funny stories or banter?
I have met some amazing friends through racing. I think we are all very competitive, but I know when to be and when not to be. Everyone’s there to win, and if it’s not me, I’m only going to respect the person that does- they clearly rode better on the day. But that doesn’t affect my friendship with some of the girls, and it certainly doesn’t affect my belief in my ability. We push each other to go faster, what’s to hate?! Not a single bad word to say.
We don’t really ride that often together, it’s hard at races having different lines and different things to look at. I’ve probably ridden most with Manon, who’s also a great friend. We don’t have anything to prove to each other and it’s usually just fun and easy going with lots of gossip and cake talk!
Tracey Hannah and I will pretty much at every race remind each other that we wanna ride really really really fast just before our race runs!
Is talking about chocolate and cake classed as banter?
Recently we've seen a lot more women get involved with mountain biking, which is awesome. How do you think the image of women needs to be developed, and do you think there needs to be more support available to nurture this?
I know it’s a touchy subject really, there’s been a lot of debate about it. I hate to put an “image” to it. Everyone's different, some girls do it for fun, like to cruise, and some like to push their limits. Either or, at the end of the day we all have the same passion for riding bikes!
There may not be all the same support and interest as male riders, but I do think it’s going in the right direction.
What is the best lesson you've learnt as a rider which you can teach us?
It’s mind over matter. Every time. You are capable of so much more than what you are set to believe. Whether it’s a steep scary downhill, or a long uphill strain. You CAN and you WILL. Whether it’s there and then, or after millions of attempts. You can. And you will.
You've already got a lot on your plate with competitions this year, but do you have any other plans in the pipeline, any more charity campaigns lined up? or World domination?
I am racing back to back weekends till end of September. My other plans are sleep! haha
You've gained a huge profile in the mountain biking industry from climbing up through the Junior division, now you're taking the Elite division by storm AND you've done amazing charity work and all by the age of 20. How do you stay grounded with all that you're achieving?
Thanks, that’s really nice to hear. I will always strive for more. It doesn’t matter in what circumstance/situation. I will always try and seek the best out of a person or a situation. I think a good way to put it is things I achieve are just stored at the back of my mind and I just move on and look forward to the next. I’m sure one day I’ll take time to look back on it.
And finally, when the bikes in the garage and it's time for some "Tahnée-time", what's the best way for you to unwind and enjoy yourself?
I love shopping. There’s no two ways about it. Carrot cake and coffee. Spending time with the family and the other half. All things that are appreciated so much after being away and so focused on one specific thing… Winning!
It's been so exciting watching Tahnée race and progress in this year's World Cup and I think her determination and focus will lead her to the cup victory in no time at all. She's a great inspiration for young female riders and I think a lot can be learnt from her: you can still be a girly shopaholic AND tear up the muddy trails like a machine! She's got the right balance in my opinion! I can't wait to see this young athlete flourish and reach her true champion potential.