Mountain biking was celebrated on Sunday 27 March in Lourdes for the final of the first stage of the World Championships, the only one on French soil. Nearly 50,000 people marched to the Marian city. A record.
A French victory was necessary for this stage in Bigorre to be crowned with success. It is done thanks to a euphoric Amaury Pierron and on a cloud yesterday on the descent from Pic du Jer to Lourdes. It was just before 15:30, when the rider from the Commencal / Muc Off by Riding team had to cheer on an already white-hot crowd along the entire route.
It took a lot of calm and a lot of risk-taking to overcome this particularly demanding track laid out by Lourdes VTT, the local cycling club. “You have to step on the pedals at the top, then it will be super technical, and it requires a lot of concentration. A hell of a World Cup track ”, exclaimed the winner of the first stage, at the end of his descent.
In third place in qualifying, Pierron was able to tame a logically impaired track after being exposed to the passage of more than 300 drivers over the weekend. Taking advantage of Loris Vergier’s and Thibaut Daprela’s unfortunate fall and the huge favorite Loïc Bruni’s failure, Amaury Pierron had a dream and, to say the least, unexpected weekend (see opposite). Never mind, the party was so much the more beautiful to the sound of foghorns, vuvuzelas and other chainsaws that followed the runners throughout the course.
“In France, the mood is crazy”
A little earlier, among the girls, the favorite on the cheerleader was none other than the Aveyronnaise Marine Cabirou. But the latter had to settle for a top 5 in a race dominated by Swiss Camille Balanche ahead of Montpellier Myriam Nicole. “It really was not easy. I turned my thumb up during reconnaissance in practice and pulled it all weekend. But for my return to the circuit after my long injury last season, a top 5 is satisfactory.”
The one who won the World Cup in 2020 nevertheless realized that her coast remained intact with the public. “We know that in France the atmosphere is crazy and this public has proven it again,” Cabirou said with a smile.
“And what an audience,” continued Lourdes VTT director Patrice Bordères. The eyes riveted on the giant screen in the target area did not hide his satisfaction from him, who has worked a lot with the organization of the event. And with good reason, the event attracted between 40 and 50,000 people in the Marian city. As admission is free and open to all, the organizers noted the weekend’s success with the number of emptied beer kegs. “On Saturday alone, we sold just as much beer as during the three days of the 2017 edition,” Patrice Bordères explained. The latter even announced the city’s candidacy to be part of the World Cup circuit again next year. This weekend’s success begs him.
“A sacred World Cup course”
Amaury, there is no better way to start the season …
It’s unbelievable, I really could not believe it, I arrived at Lourdes ill in the last two weeks. Yesterday (Saturday) I broke my ankle during qualifying. For a quarter of an hour I thought it was broken. We did a nursing job with the physiotherapist, but I woke up myself in the middle of the night, so pain pounded on me. This victory highlights the work of the entire team.
What did you think of the atmosphere this weekend in Lourdes?
They are incredible, it is not comparable to what we see elsewhere. For three days it went crescendo, and today (yesterday) it was madness. They pressured me to give the best of myself, to surpass myself.
When you are on the course, do you feel this fervor?
Yes, that’s madness. I was tired, I was dead at the end of the route, and I held on thanks to them.
What did you think of the route on Pic du Jer?
The course is very demanding. You have to step on the pedals at the top then it becomes super technical and it requires a concentration of sick. A hell of a World Cup course.