Oscar Saiz is a pocket-rocket Spaniard who you’ve probably never heard of but has had an oversize impact on the road peloton.
The 49-year-old, who lives 40km outside Barcelona, made his name in downhill mountain biking, racing for Giant’s mountain-bike team. He was rarely out of the World Cup top-10. Now, he’s charged with transforming the world’s best road cyclists into descending experts, utilising his years of experience to fight fear and boost (controlled) speed.
We recently came across Oscar at Trek-Segafredo’s women’s training camp in Denia, Spain, but that’s just the tip of his palmarès with Israel-Premier Tech, Team DSM, UAE Women and Lotto-Dstny all using his services. In the past he’s also worked with Jumbo-Visma and Rabobank, while he’s worked on an individual basis with riders from Movistar Team, Ineos Grenadiers and many more. In short, he’s a downhill demon in demand. Who, it transpires, is a very interesting interviewee…
Oscar, thank you for your time. Please introduce yourself to the Rouleur community, please.
Well, when I was really young, I used to compete in trials and BMX racing, and raced that until around 18 years old. Then I went to university to study law with the intention of becoming a lawyer. Then I discovered mountain biking. That was the early 90s. Law took a backseat and I soon became a professional downhill mountain biker. I competed pro until 2008.
Read more: Why do professional cyclists train at altitude?
When I stopped racing, I thought I’d finish my degree in law, but the Spanish federation called and asked if I’d coach the national mountain-biking team. I did but moved on soon after as I didn’t love the way they approached things. I then ended up coaching the Giant Factory Team, who was the last brand I raced for. This went well and I ended up working with the cross-country team, too, refining the more technical aspects of racing. We were successful as Danny Hart won the UCI World Downhill Championships in 2011.
Saiz at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships 2006 (Getty Images)
Come 2012, I started working specifically on technique and downhill riding with Rabobank [now Jumbo-Visma], the link being that they were using Giant bikes at the time. I remember working with [Robert] Gesink, [Bauke] Mollema and [Steven] Kruijswijk, who were all very young. Again, it went well but I went freelance soon after.
Who did you work with then?
Many riders but I guess the highest profile…
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