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Blue Blooded interview with Jolanda Neff

From ballet to bikes

Jolanda Neff is on a bit of a tear for a rider still in the early stages of her career. The twenty-three year old from Thal, Switzerland has accumulated an impressive list of palmares. Among other results, she’s won a number of Swiss Cup races, Swiss National Championships (in both road and mountain disciplines), a European Championship, and the UCI Under-23 World Cross-Country Championships three times. In 2013, still an eligible U23 racer, Neff opted to compete against the best of the world in the Elite division, where’s she’s won three World Cup races, the World Cup Series twice, and is ranked number one in the world. A true Shimano Blue Blood, Neff has used Shimano as long as she’s been racing.

Discovering a love for racing

Before Jolanda Neff discovered her natural ability for mountain-biking, she says her family involved her in all kinds of physical activities. “I did ballet with my sister when I was six to about 12-years old,” she said when we recently spoke to her about her racing career. “I did skiing, I did snowboarding, cross-country skiing. We went hiking often. We were often outside in the nature with our family.”

“I did ballet with my sister when I was six to about 12-years old”

But as early as six, she discovered her real passion was cycling. At ten she says she was hooked on mountain-biking. “As soon as I got to do lap racing, I absolutely loved it. I won my first race and then no one could spoil the party; I won nearly all the races I did.” 

Mountain-biking took over all the other activities. “Riding my bike was, to me, the most fun. When I was in school the whole day I was longing to get outside, to leave the school building and get on my bike. I loved it. When I was 12, I didn’t want to do much else.”

“As soon as I got to do lap racing, I absolutely loved it. I won my first race and then no one could spoil the party; I won nearly all the races I did.”

Its Shimano only for Neff

From her first bike (she remembers it was red and had blue wheels but not what model it was) to the team-issue carbon hardtail she races on today, Shimano has been her got-to equipment supplier. “I’ve always had Shimano. The products are the best. They are a very innovative company. Their products really work.” 

Having Shimano gear is so important to the cross-country phenomenon that it factors into her career choices. “When I got offers for my first pro contract, I definitely wanted to go with the team that used Shimano. I think for riders, it's important you can rely on your components. You need your stuff to work. When Shimano puts something on the market, you know it’s made to the highest standard and it’s been tested for years.”

Testing that she and her fellow athletes help the company with. “I'm really happy I can ride Shimano. They send us products and talk to us at the races about what we think, what works and what need improving. Although it’s not that we need to improve much because they make products on such a good level.”

Neff says Shimano’s support is key to her success. “Shimano is always there for me, especially at the races. Whenever there is a question or an issue, a Shimano mechanic is always there. Even in the technical zones.”

“When Shimano puts something on the market, you know it’s made to the highest standard and it’s been tested for years.”

Jolanda Neff hopes to take Shimano for a ride in 2016

Having accomplished so much, you’d think the young athlete would be ready to rest on her laurels. Not Neff. She says she’s focused on the World Cup series again. “I've won it twice and it would be really cool to have a great World Cup season (In 2016). Of course, this year is also the Olympics. I hope to do well. And the World Championships are very important.” 

No matter what she accomplishes in 2016, Shimano will be there for her.

Blue Blooded

Blue Blooded focuses on pro cyclists from all the major disciplines who have one thing in common: Shimano running through their veins. They are part of the larger Shimano family who all share our passion for cycling. Read their stories at #RideShimano.

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