France’s cross-country cyclists confirmed they are the athletes to beat at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 after dominating a test race on the Olympic Mountain Bike course.
France’s Loana Lecomte was the first to cross the finish line on Sunday in the women’s cross-country race at Elancourt hill. Austria’s Laura Stigger was runner-up, while French woman Pauline Ferrand-Prevot finished third.
“Winning never crossed my mind,” Lecomte said after the race.
“I got up this morning and thought I was at home on holiday, I lost track of where I was. But I’m really happy to have been able to get into the spirit of the race before the start. »
In the men’s race, Victor Koretzky claimed France’s second victory of the day after overtaking world No.1 Nino Schurter (SUI) in the final lap. New Zealand’s Anton Cooper trailed the Frenchman by one second to finish second, while Schurter finished in third place.
“I had a lot of fun. It was a tactical race and at the same time technical with the speed.” Koretzky said.
The mountain bike test event on Sunday marked the first time competition was held on the Paris 2024 course, located southwest of Paris on the artificial Elancourt hill.
The 4.4 km circuit has an elevation of 110 metres and was designed by Nick Floros (RSA), who also designed the Olympic cross-country course for Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016.
Stigger, who finished 39 seconds behind Lecomte, said she enjoyed the track’s jumps and picking up speed on the downhill sections.
“I really like the form. It’s really fast but it also has some technical stuff in it which makes the race quite tactical,” she said.
Third-place Ferrand-Prevot admitted to feeling tired before Sunday’s race following a busy World Cup season and the cross-country Olympic (XCO) world championships title she won in August.
« The problem is that when you’re mentally tired, it really takes a lot of energy to work on a circuit like this,” the 31-year-old said.
Men’s cross-country runner-up Anton Cooper said some of the course’s sections were more challenging during Sunday’s race compared to earlier training sessions on Friday and Saturday.
“At times if felt like you could be pushing a bit harder, but that’s just the nature of when you’re in a group of five or six at the front. It’s a bit of cat and mouse,” he said.
Four-time Olympian Nino Schurter said he enjoyed competing alongside a new generation of cyclists.
“I’m really thankful that I’m still here and still competing. Time flies quite a bit,” the 37-year-old said.
“For me it’s important to be here and get the first impression, and to see if I can perform well.”
Multi-discipline champion Mathieu Van Der Poel (NED), who finished 28th out of 42, said Sunday’s race will help him decide how he wants to prepare for next year’s Games.
“It’s still a dream of mine, but it’s difficult. It’s not like it was a few years ago when I still had more time for mountain bike, and now road cycling has become more important for me,” the 28-year-old said.
“I have a difficult choice to make.”
The Paris 2024 mountain bike events will take place between 28 and 29 July 2024.
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