It’s been a whirlwind season for Welsh mountain bike star Manon Carpenter.
The now decorated rider broke the barrier of having never won a World Cup race before to take both the overall title and the World Championship win.
She also managed to wrap up the National Series overall crown, and was named Sky Sports’ Sportswoman of the month for September after claiming nearly every piece of silverware she set her eyes on.
For Manon, the season of success still seems surreal. She still doesn’t know what to do with her trophy haul.
“I’ve got everything on my window sill just now but I don’t think it’s working there,” she laughs. “I’ve been trying to arrange it all but I think I need somewhere bigger!”
Looking back on a prolific breakthrough year, the rider admits she never expected to achieve so much, even when she began to open up a notable gap in the overall World Cup rankings.
Manon continued: “I never really noticed it happening during the season.
“I was winning the races but even though I had the winner’s jersey for most of the year, I never thought that I’d win the overall. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and then for something to happen.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen at Worlds but I didn’t imagine winning that either. It’s all kind of crept up on me!
“I’ve only had the chance [to wear the World Cup rainbow colours] at two races since I got them, so I haven’t had them out much but it’s definitely nice to be able to!”
For many, Manon’s transformation from contender to champion will have come as a surprise, but after an intensive training programme in the off-season, the rider was able to gain the edge over her rivals.
Carpenter admits that she is enjoying a break from training at the moment, but will be launching into an even more rigorous preparation programme in the next couple of months.
“It’s all quite manic to be honest,” she said. “I went out to France to see my sister for a few days but other than that it has been manic!
“I really enjoy getting a month off after the season, so you can literally just do whatever you want to do, so I’ve really just been partying and riding!
“Training [will restart] in November or December. We’re having a meeting next week to discuss what we’re going to do, so I guess I’ll find out then for sure.
“We’ve got quite a few different ideas for it and there are a lot of ideas that we want to change or work on or improve. So it’s quite exciting really!”
We ask for any specific details of the training programme, or if she can give us a hint at what she’ll be working on, but Manon admits with a laugh that it’s all top secret stuff.
One thing is for sure though: the rider raised the bar this year, and if any of her rivals are going to challenge her next year, they’ll have to step up and raise it again.