Interviews with the winners of the Lourdes World Cup – “It was like a football stadium”

It’s safe to say that the World Cup season has started with a bang! French crowds flocked to Lourdes in droves to create an electric atmosphere under the Pic du Jer. We caught up with race winners Camille Balanche and Amaury Pierron, and the man behind the bike they both won on, Max Commencal, to get some instant reactions to an incredible race.

Camille Balanche

What are your first reactions to this victory?

It’s amazing, you can’t feel better. It’s the first World Cup, it’s really early in the season, I’m on a brand new bike and I’ve just used it for about six days, so I wasn’t really, really confident. I was like “it’s just a good practice, a good test”. Of course I was aiming for the top five but I knew the girls were quite fast, Pompon and Vali were four seconds faster than me in qualifying so I was like ‘woah, I have to wake up’. I was really tired from pushing the first piece and riding really well and on my lines at the bottom and it paid off, so really really happy.

This is the second year in a row that you have won the first World Cup of the year, what is your secret?

I do not know! I thought last year it was because I liked Leogang a lot so that’s kind of why I won and honestly I didn’t think I was as good at Lourdes. It’s my first time here and I didn’t feel very good on the track. I don’t know, maybe I was stressing a little less than the others or I won’t say I had lower expectations but honestly when I was at the start I felt really good. I was like, ‘OK, do what you can, have fun and aim for the top five, that would be good’, but I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself or anything. I could tell I felt good, my body was relaxed and it was really nice.

Did the crowd help during your run?

Frankly not really. Of course, I love it and it’s very loud, but I don’t think I’m a very reactive person. Like, I know all the people who go even faster when they hear more noise and I don’t think I’m that kind of person but it feels so good to have people everywhere when you get off and you all have the kids there for autographs and all. It’s so good to reunite with people and the whole vibe is so sick but I don’t think I’m riding any faster because of the crowds.

Vali would turn red, then green, then red as she ran. How was it on the hotseat?

Yeah, I was so stressed. I did my job and thought “ok, at least I don’t lose three seconds in the first part anymore” but honestly I didn’t expect to be so good down there. Then I thought Vali would come in second and it was so close and I didn’t feel like it was amazing down there, but apparently it was really good so I’m so happy. It’s so cool to see that we’re so close and not like in quality where I was four seconds behind. It was kind of like “woah, shit”. So now to see that all the top five are so close, it’s so exciting and it pushed me so much

What will you do now during the long break in Fort William?

We plan to do some testing near Fort William and maybe I’ll stay and do the BDS. Of course, it will be nice to be home and go back to training. I haven’t been to the gym much because we’ve done a lot of training camps this year. I’m sure it was really good to ride that much, we did about two races before and I think I was really good but I also need to be home a bit more and get my routine , so I will definitely be spending a lot of time at home.


How are you feeling Amaury?

I’m just over the moon! Pretty crazy. I didn’t expect it because I’ve been sick for the past two weeks. I had very low energy and it was hard to stay awake all day.

And today was super long, this weekend. After qualifying, I had a crash and hurt my ankle badly. It was super painful so we worked with the physio and I’m super happy with the victory.

How does it feel to give the new bike its first win?

I’m just super happy, first World Cup with the new bike and also first place. I’m super happy for everyone at Commencal who worked so hard to deliver this bike to us. He was very close to getting it just in time for the first race of the season, so yes a big job from everyone at Commencal and the team, my coaches, my family.

How much did the crowd help?

It is sure that the public helped me a lot this weekend and especially today because it was hard and the French public pushes you to do your best. It was crazy to ride, it was like in a football stadium.

How long do you hope to keep this leader’s jersey?

The goal is to have it at the end so if I can keep it all year it will be a dream. For now, I’m just focusing on repeating wins. That’s the goal, to win races.

Max Commencal

Two wins today on your new bike, how does that feel?

I couldn’t have hoped for a better start for the bike and I’m so happy because it’s really the world for all the staff, they did all that. But also our competitors are really strong so but I’m happy, happy to win.

Were there a few nervous moments watching the riders descend?

Always! I’ve been going to races for a long, long time and I love racing – getting adrenaline and trying to help the riders and build the best bikes. It’s fantastic. And the crowd, I’ve never seen so many people.

It’s true, I used to say Fort William was the best World Cup for the fans, I don’t think that’s the case anymore, it’s Les Gets and Lourdes now, right?

No, no, I think this year will be crazy. We have a chance, nothing can disturb our lives you know because a life inside is sad. But if we have a chance for things to go well, ok I think the season will be amazing.

What do you think it means for Amaury to win in front of his fans here?

For Amaury, I think if I had to bet on someone it was for Amaury. Amaury wanted this victory. Yesterday he was a little injured but they are warriors. All these riders and I have a lot of respect for Finn, for Loic for Loris for all of them. I think the battles this year will be amazing.

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