BMX prolongs the rout of French cycling

And then, suddenly, the fall, incomprehensible. ” I do not know what happened, breathes Joris Daudet. I knew I was third, I didn’t necessarily take any risks, but I slipped, and all my hopes were gone. “ In the last corner of the BMX final, Friday July 30, the Frenchman tumbles, and sees his hopes for a medal evaporate on the track of Ariake Urban Park in Tokyo.

Like five years ago in Rio, as in 2012 in London, Joris Daudet will not realize his Olympic dream. Like its headliner, it is French BMX as a whole that comes out groggy from these Olympics. On a circuit laid out to avoid the multiplication of falls that plagued the Rio Games, the Blues fell from a height.

Everything had started well, however. The four blue pilots (Joris Daudet, Romain Mahieu and Sylvain André for the men, Axelle Etienne for the women) had validated without trembling their qualification in the final, where, on a dry round and 400 meters of hollows and bumps, eight athletes compete. the Graal.

Sylvain André completes the test on “A beautiful chocolate medal” bitter (4e), Romain Mahieu in sixth position, and Joris Daudet did not finish the race. “I have always been told that it was a race quite different from all the others, expresses Romain Mahieu, who discovered the Olympics at 26 years old. There is a pressure that we don’t have in other races, I felt it, and you have to manage it. “ As for Axelle Etienne, she finished 7the, while having ” all given ”.

“It still does not want to smile at the Games”

The series continues: despite excellent international results, no Frenchman has climbed an Olympic podium in BMX since the discipline was introduced at the Games in 2008. In the stands, the French boss of the International Cycling Union, David Lapartient, sighs. He who hoped to give medals to compatriots was in the front rows to witness their rout.

Dejected, Christophe Manin, national technical director (DTN) of cycling, struggles to explain this record. “As in mountain biking, we dominate in this discipline. We are the only nation to put three riders in the final, it really represents the performance of French BMX, he breathes. We have athletes who arrive on D-Day in full possession of their means, and there is bad luck. ” Refusing to believe in a curse, he searches for his words: “It still does not want to smile at the Games. “

For French cycling in general, at this stage, berezina is total. If the results of the road race (David Gaudu, first Frenchman, finished 7e) are not a surprise, the tricolor headliners having skipped the Olympic meeting (Julian Alaphilippe, Romain Bardet…), the blue bike thought of recovering on the dusty mountain bike tracks.

“Keep this faith, take a deep breath and reverse the trend”

Alas, for the men, Victor Koretzky did not do better than the 5e place, and among the ladies, the tumble continued. Arrived with a favorite sign pinned to the jersey, Loana Lecomte and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot saw their hopes stuck in a track made muddy by torrential rain that fell in the morning. And witnessed from afar the triumph of the Swiss women (Jolanda Neff, Sina Frei and Linda Indergand).

Read also Tokyo 2021 Olympics: mountain biking, the Blue fall from the top

“In mountain biking I was talking about disappointment, today it’s more sadness for these athletes who have made an irreproachable course until the last round, and even the last turn for Joris”, expresses Christophe Manin. Without looking for excuses, the one who defines himself as “The guarantor of performance” des Bleus, recalls that the French Olympic delegation, as a whole, is struggling at the start of the Games (only eleven medals, including three gold).

A little more than a week from the closing ceremony, only the track can save the results of cycling in France. “We missed new chances today, but there will be others, and there are many”, wants to believe the DTN, refusing to put too much pressure on its trackers: ” It is important to keep this faith, to take a good breath and that we especially reverse the trend. “

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