• Every Thursday, in its “off-field” section, “20 Minutes” explores new spaces for the expression of sport, unexpected, unusual, clever or booming.

  • Today, focus on Montpellier Myriam Nicole, double downhill mountain biking world champion.

  • In this discipline, the race for technology has direct consequences on everyone's bikes.

    All proportions kept in terms of budgets, it is often compared to Formula 1.

On August 29, Myriam Nicole exulted on the podium of the downhill mountain biking world championships. For the second time in two years. Impressive spectacle that these cars launched at full speed on slopes, in Val di Sole that day, at 20% on average with passages at 40%. From the outside, the pilots have the perfect panoply of trompe-la-mort. So when the Héraultaise confides without make-up, the confidence seals us. “I consider myself to be a fearful person,” she admits. I am often afraid and I use this fear not to do anything. "

Downhill mountain biking is a discipline as spectacular as it is deceptive.

Far, far away from the image of madmen hurtling down the slopes.

“Because the risks are very present, we are extremely rigorous.

The work of reconnaissance of the ground that one carries out upstream is invisible, but it is essential.

When I start a race, I know exactly where I am putting my wheels.

Between what pebbles and what roots I put my head.

I don't have the right to doubt my trajectories, ”she describes.

"She has an exceptional strength of character"

Montpellier is the queen of its discipline. At 31, she is at the peak of her career. “It's an age where a lot of people hang up, when I feel like I'm continuing to improve,” she smiles. I think I have had so many white seasons with injuries that I have kept a lot of mental freshness. I had time to think about a lot of aspects of the competition. "The time also to refuse fatality.

“Myriam learned to jump, she did a lot of personal work.

And then she has something that is found in all great champions, an exceptional strength of character, ”explains Anne-Caroline Chausson, the first gold medalist in the history of BMX at the Olympic Games.

“When I arrive on a jump, I ask myself the question: do I have the tools to do it, in all that I have amassed as an experience.

I had to do a lot of work with my mental trainer, ”adds the person concerned.

Downhill mountain biking, a small Formula 1

Around her revolves a full staff. About fifteen people, from mechanics to physical trainers. A universe where nothing is left to chance. “All proportions kept with budgets, downhill mountain biking is very often compared to Formula 1 in its approach,” says Arthur Quet, head of research and development at Commencal, one of the largest mountain bike manufacturers. And which has its own team on the world downhill circuit. In the paddocks, on competition weekends attended by up to 60,000 people, semi-trailers transport a compendium of technologies.

Behind the adrenaline and the fun of a sport that is having fun off the beaten track, "a lot of resources are put into development," continues Arthur Quet.

The experience feedback from the pilots, their ability to push back the limits of the equipment mean that the manufacturers gain several years.

When a product hits the market.

It was first tested life-size.

The evolution of the size of wheels, that of the suspensions, the appearance of electronics are today the subject of a fierce technological battle.

The quest for the Games

Most of the mountain bike manufacturers have their own stables. The Andorrans of Commencal, Myriam Nicole's team, are among the most competitive. And the most structured with several teams, some of which operate like Alpha Tauri and Red Bull in Formula 1, the first being the talent pool of the second. “In the space of a few years, notably thanks to the media coverage provided by Red Bull, I have seen the discipline become more professional in a very spectacular way,” testifies Anne-Caroline Chausson. It is one of the most complete sports that I know. "

Which lacks the ultimate recognition, it of a presence at the Olympics, as can be other disciplines of mountain biking.

"It has all the legitimacy to become one," assures the Olympic BMX champion, who has long competed in international downhill mountain biking competitions.

She is now working as a consultant for Commencal.

“I don't see a reason not to be there one day,” adds Myriam Nicole.

It won't be in 2024 but in 2028 in Los Angeles, why not.

And if so, I can see myself participating very well!

"

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