Interview du Big Boss

An Interview with the Big Boss

Monday 24 May 2010
by Ben Swales
popularity : 35%

PNG - 277.6 kb The French, European and World Champion, Koxx rider Gilles Coustellier, sat down with us on the 16th of April, just days after the competitions at K-124 Days 2010, where he finished second overall and Roiffieux, where he managed a perfect trial, finishing ahead of Vincent Hermance and Guillaume Dunand. Our apologies for taking so long to get it online [and translated! – Ben], but we’re all super busy with the website and other projects that we simply haevn’t had time. Thanks for understanding though and we hope that the articles and features that we have in store for you will make up for it! Photos by Nico Bahro.

The Big Boss tells us how it is…

JPEG - 93 kb Hi Gilles, we saw you a few days ago at the comp in Roiffieux... What did you make of it? Had you competed in a Rhône Alpes comp before?

Yeah, I’ve competed in a few before. I really enjoyed the sections that Marc Caisso had set. It was old school trials with plenty of presicion and tricky overhangs… I had a lot of fun!

You managed a perfect trial - bravo! Are you ready for the coming world rounds?

Thanks, yeah, I managed to finish on zero. I was really pleased as to do that on sections such as those is no mean feat. I rode really well… I’m still training for the worlds with Xavier Barbier, my physical trainer and Isabelle Mischler, my nutritionist. And of course my father, who as everyone knows, has always been by bicycle trainer. I’m still progressing – there’s still room for improvement, which seems incredible! JPEG - 190.3 kb Vincent didn’t fare so well, finishing as he did with 15 points. Did you just go down there to show him who was boss? He had a couple of digs at you in some recent interviews with your former coach Franck Martini didn’t he? (see Supermance & Franck Martini sur le divan (1/2) et 2/2 [translations to follow soon – Ben])...

No, I’m above all that. I went along to have some fun and to see what the talent was like in the South… Also to keep riding comps before the big ones come up… It’s true that Vincent didn’t fare as well as I did, maybe he was tired from all his training [laughs].

Can you tell us a bit about your new trainer Xavier Barbier? You seem to be on top form mentally and seem to be untouchable; you imposed yourself as the top dog on the world circuit two years ago and haven’t looked back… Is your training with him mostly physical?

Xavier Barbier is a professional physical trainer; he really knows what he’s talking about and I’m very happy to be working with him. Plus, he’s a great guy, always there when I need him, what more could I ask for? You’re right, I’ve been at the top for two years now and I’m doing everything that I can to stay there. I’m enjoying my riding more and more and I’m still progressing. This is thanks largely to the people around me; not everyone is so lucky! I don’t really train mentally, I just analyse and question my performances, work on my weak points and improve my strong points… With Xavier we just concentrate on the physical side of things…

JPEG - 93 kb You’ve recently taken on a nutritionist?

Yep. I wanted to fine-tune my diet in accordance with my exertions, weight, etc. I managed to find the best: Isabelle Mischler, who has adapted a programme according to my activities. At competitions she adapts my diet according to the sections, the difficulty etc., she’s excellent!

OK. We found out at K-124 Days that you’re wearing a new range of clothing… A brand that we previously hadn’t heard of, US brand Under Armour, who seem to be a bit of a point of reference over there! Can you tell us a bit about that… You were riding in Skins clothing before, one of the first to do so, and a few people made fun of them a bit. Now they’re commonplace in competition; everyone has some! Can you tell us a bit about Under Armour and why you chose them?

That’s right. for 2010 I wanted to change my clothing sponsors; I wasn’t getting on that well with the Skins anymore. Under Armour are a point of reference in compression clothing. They’ve got a massive range, even running shoes and flip-flops, they really have everything. It does seem that everyone is wearing tights these days, it’s impressive how they’ve taken off! Under Armour are the best, there’s a real difference between them and the rest of the competition and their clothing is great. I chose them because they are more effective than any other brand I’ve tried.

JPEG - 186 kb In fact, Under Armour are coming into Europe, largely in Germany and France, whereas they had previously concentrated on the US market, with their clothing appearing in every sport going – even the US army is wearing them! If people want to wear the same compression clothing as you, where can they find it? which models do you use?

To find them the best thing to do is to go to their website and to click on their country’s importer ( They also have a Facebook page. I use the Men’s Generation II UA Recharge™ Energy Legging.

Speaking of stuff you use, your Orange Magura HS 33s, are they new brakes, or just a new colour?

They’re the latest model but in a limited edition colour, there are only 1,000 pairs in the world. Technically, there is no change over the 2009 model, but they look great!

JPEG - 348.7 kb Can we talk about the K-124 Days competition? We bumped into you a few times over the course of the weekend and the first round didn’t seem to be going so well, the natural sections were really difficult and the weather seemed to have made them almost impossible… What did you make of it? Do those type of competitions help you to progress?

To be honest, it wasn’t a competition that allowed you to progress or to see the level of the other riders. On the Saturday, if you wanted to get through the sections you had to practically climb through them, using strato dabs throughout; that’s not what I call trials! I didn’t intend to use my feet all the way through, unlike some, I wanted to ride the sections properly. On the Sunday, the sections could have been brilliant, but certain riders had complained and they modified the sections, which is a bit pants as the difficulty comes down and it’s harder to separate the riders. All the same, I was pleased with my riding on the Sunday, dropping just one point (and not on purpose!) was a good feeling…

The second day was a bit more ‘classic’, with World Cup style sections, but everything seemed to be much bigger than on the UCI circuit… was that just how it looked to us the spectators? Some of the gaps looked enormous and a lot of it looked really dangerous!

I think it was just an illusion, as I said, the level of difficulty came down after some of the riders complained; some passages could even have been put into the Expert route… I certainly didn’t think the sections were that monstrous!

Seriously? Come on!

[Laughs] No seriously, I didn’t think they were that bad!

JPEG - 227.2 kb Fair enough! Back to the UCI circuit, you’re at the summit of world trials but there are some riders who are trying to climb up to your level and knock you off the top spot… Who is your most dangerous rival? You get the impression that Kenny Belaey is concentrating on shows at the moment, he’s been all over the world; do you think that could damage his performance this season? Could his non-stop shows around the world be training enough to take the top honours do you think?

Yeah, Kenny’s doing loads of shows all over the world. I don’t know how that will affect his season, but one thing is certain: while he’s on a plane to the other side of the world or resting for his next show, I’m training like a madman! I think that he’ll be falling behind me, but then again, he is used to working like that… it’s his way of doing things. I don’t think I could ever work like that, I turn down a lot of shows so that I can keep training and competing… My main rival is myself and if I keep riding at my true level and don’t make any mistakes, the result can only be positive!

JPEG - 184 kb So the next fixture is the opening round of the World Cup in Ripoll on the 23rd May? Or do you have another comp lined up in the mean time? No, at the moment I’m concentrating on the first round of the Cup. The week before there’s another Rhône Alpes Cup round, but I’d prefer to rest. We’ll find out how I get on… watch this space!

We’ll be following your progress closely! You’re also into cars; what are you driving at the moment?

I sold my Subaru, it just guzzled petrol! You have to feed 380 horses a lot! I’ve got an Audi A4 Estate at the moment, the latest model with 211 horsepower. It’s great for the motorways and is really spacious.

Plenty of room for your bike and your dog then?

[Laughs] Yeah, the Coust family likes big, sporty cars! It’ll be handy for when a mini-coust comes along!

Hey hey, the next generation! Well, that all sounds great, thanks for talking to us and good luck for the rest of the season!



And here’s a best of Gilles Coustellier at the Tour de Scay, taken by German photographer Nico Bahro. Some of these exceptional photos have already appeared on the site, others are appearing for the first time. Enjoy…

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