World Cup: Manon Carpenter confident ahead of Mountain Bike opener
Manon Carpenter believes she is better prepared than last year for the Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup which starts in France this weekend.
The 23-year-old Welsh rider won the World Cup and World Championships in 2014, but failed to defend her titles.
After winning the opening round of the British Championship in Scotland on Sunday, Carpenter is in positive mood.
"I've got lot of confidence and feel good on the bike and it's nice to know that going into Lourdes," she said.
"The track's quite different [to Scotland] so I'm looking forward to getting onto a big track like they have at the World Cup. It's a big steep hill.
"[I'm] coming into the event in a better frame of mind. I'm happy with how the winter went. I feel a lot better than last year."
Carpenter, from Caerphilly, had a disappointing 2015 after her breakthrough the previous year.
She says her winter training has put a greater emphasis on honing her riding skills after a number of second place finishes cost her her title last year.
|Mountain Bike World Cup schedule|
|April 9-10: Lourdes, France; 23-24 April: Cairns, Australia;|
|4-5 June: Fort William, Scotland; 11-12 June: Leogang, France;|
|9-10 July: Lenserheide, Switzerland; 6-7 August: Mont-Saint-Anne, France; 4-5 September: Vallnors, Andorra.|
"I had a lot of things to do to improve after last year," admitted Carpenter.
"Getting the balance right between the physical training on the road bike and [riding] the mountain biking.
"I spent a lot more time on mountain bikes this winter trying to get the balance between the skills and physical training right and having a lot of fun on my bike as well."
The World Cup is decided over a series of seven races, starting in Lourdes on 9-10 April and ending in Vallnors in Andorra on 4-5 September.
It is followed by the World Championship - a one-off race - at Val Di Sole in Italy on 6-11 September.
Carpenter won both events in 2014, but her immediate aim is to get back onto the top of the podium in one of the races.
"I'd like to get a win again at the World Cup and once I've won one try and win some more," she said.
"I got a lot of second places last year so I'm looking for some wins. And if that happens at the first World Cup race it will be amazing and if not then I won't worry and get on with it."