Entretien avec Gilles Coustellier

Interview with Gilles Coustellier

Sunday 2 August 2009
by Ben Swales
popularity : 20%

PNG - 370 kb Gilles Coustellier is on a roll. Having consolidated his domination in the World Cup three weeks ago in Saint-François Longchamp, the MTB trials master also retained the titles of European Champion and of French Champion. We talked to him yesterday about these exploits and about the next big date on the trials calendar, the World Championships in Canberra...

Thanks to Laurent Grillon, Michel Romen (RideActive.nl) & Thomas Francisco for the photos of the interview.


JPEG - 82.9 kb Jébegood: Yo man! Have you got five minutes for a chat about your last few comps and Canberra?

Gilles Coustellier: Of course!

Jb: You really set the bar high last year by becoming French, European and World Champion as well as winning the World Cup. We didn’t think it was possible to go any further, but the 2009 season has been even more exceptional! You took back the lead in the World Cup three weeks ago in Saint-François Longchamp, despite the torrential rain and then you defended your French and European Champion’s jerseys in the best way possible over the last two weeks!

G.C.: It’s true, so far my 2009 season has been even better than 2008 - over seven comps I’ve had six victories, not counting the qualifiers.

Jb : It’s been crazy - we’re running out of superlatives to describe your performances!

G.C.: Yeah, in St François Longchamps I took back the overall lead. I advanced quite a bit as my main competitor finished fourth. It seems like the World Cup is nearly in the bag, but I don’t want to count my chickens before they’re hatched! I still need to ride my best and try and get some firsts in.

JPEG - 98.4 kb Jb: Let’s talk about Zoertemeer... What did you think of Ronny Belaey’s sections, they’re not normally to your taste are they? They looked big and technical and the rain must have made them a lot harder? On the first lap there was hardly anything between you, Vincent and Kenny, it was all to play for on the second lap!

G.C.: Actually, this time I thought Ronny’s sections were really good, even if there was a lack of pedalling. It was reaqlly close on the first lap but I managed to get a good lead on the secong lap. The competition was stiff but I pulled it out of the bag.

Jb: After you won the European Championship you managed to retain your tricolore jersey in Oz-en-Oisans... Jean Flambard’s sections seemed to be a mix of sections from the 2007 French Championship and the last round of the World Cup - did you like them? You dominated the comp from start to finsih and almost managed a perfect trial!

G.C.: The French Championship sections were magnificent! Jean’s got a trials rider’s eye and really knows how to set sections, fitting all kinds of style and obstacles in. I didn’t quite manage a perfect trial, but I made a stupid mistake. I wanted to finish quickly when I should have taken just a few more seconds. It’ll serve as a lesson!

JPEG - 123.3 kb Jb: We get the impression that trials is getting more and more recognition in the French media, whether they be MTB or general sports related... The French Championships have been televised for the last two years and this year, instead of the usual two minute clip it was a seven minute report. VeloVert and other MTB media are getting interested in the discipline again too! Are you noticing it at your level - are there more spectators? Are they more passionate? Do you get approached more?

JPEG - 157.1 kb G.C.: Yeah, it’s getting good! We had eight minutes of coverage at a time when a lot of people are watching the telly. I certainly do see it at my level - you just have to look at the number of spectators that there are at the comps, there’re more and more each time, it’s great! I think it can only get better!

Jb: Yeah, we trials riders have a certain tendency to complain, to have the impression that our sport doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves, but when we see that progress of the last decade, it’s impressive none-the-less: The sport has become more professional, the competition circuit is really impressive on a national as well as international level, there are plenty of dynamic brands, etc.

G.C.: Yeah, and we the riders have put a lot of effort into become real athletes, professionals...

Jb: Yeah, it’s you guys who have brought the sport to where it is now and made it what it is. big UP!

JPEG - 149.5 kb G.C.: It’s normal, it’s our bread and butter now, we have to work at it.

Jb: It’s the second round of the French Cup this weekend in Samoëns, a 100% urban comp set all over the village... In Serre-Chevalier you did big things on a particularly tricky course. In fact, you’ve been doing nothing but big things this season... Is the Cup important to you, or do you just see it as training? Last year you missed it due to clahing events... is it an important goal for you?

G.C.: I see it more as training, I’m preparing myself more for the World Cup. I run the risk of being a bit burned out for Samoëns because of all my preparation and may not be at my best, but I don’t mind too much, it’s not an important competition. It’s not really a goal, my next big goal is Canberra, I’m going to do everything I can to keep the jersey and my titles.

Jb: Let’s talk about that for a moment... The other day I showed you the photos of the sections that they’re building over there, you flipped out! Anthony Burton, the Competition Director in Canberra told us that the sections will be made of both natural (logs and rocks) and artificial obstacle built specially for the occasion. They look enormous so far - how are you feeling about it?

JPEG - 154.4 kb G.C.: Yeah, the place looks like a paradise. Even though I’m scared of flying, I can’t wait to get over there! The sections look massive, it’s hard to say how I’m feeling, but in any case I’ll give it my all and we’ll see what happens!

Jb: Have you been to kangaroo country before?

G.C.: No, thanks to my fear of flying I’ve never been so far abroad before, but this year I haven’t got a choice, it’s THE comp of the year!

Jb: It’s followed by the World Cup final in New Zealand... you’re going to be spending a lot of time in a plane!

JPEG - 143.5 kb G.C.: Yeah, 24 hours in a plane, it’s going to freak me out! And when you’re scared, the hours seem even longer! I’m not sure if I’ll be going to New Zealand, I don’t know if I can afford it. If my sponsors want to help me get there though, I’m game! It’s very expensive, and I’m going with Claire, who follows me everywhere so everything’s multiplied by two. We’ll see!

Jb:So the riders have to sort all of that out themsleves? Who manages it all for you? You must not have the time to do it?

G.C.: It all depends, me, I pay for everything myself, but I’ve got Koxx and the Martigues Town Hall who help me out. I haven’t really got time to sort anything more out, too much training...

Jb: Well I’ll let you get back to it! Thanks for talking to us! I hope you manage to find a sponsor to take you to New Zealand! Good luck for the rest of the season and see you soon!

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