Gilles Coustellier après Saafelden, "Je n’y crois toujours pas..."

Gilles Coustellier after Saafelden, "I still can’t believe it..."

Sunday 23 September 2012
by Ben Swales
popularity : 24%

PNG - 278.8 kb Koxx rider Gilles Coustellier was phenomenal in Austria, dominating the most important rendezvous of the season with style and grace and successfully defending his title and retaining the World Champion’s jersey. Winning his fourth World Championship was the crowning achievement of what has been an incredible season for the Frenchman. He was calm and collected before the trial, although at the back of his mind was the 2010 World Championship, which he lost due to over-confidence and under-preparation - a painful defeat. That only steeled him further, however, and he was at the top of his game from the semi-final through to the end of the final and was, once more, untouchable – rounding off a season in which he has been undefeated. The Grand Master of 26” trials sat down with us after his fourth World title to tell us about his impressions of the competition, saying that he “still can’t believe it!” The interview is illustrated with photos by Marco Patriziz. Enjoy!

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Tribal Interview

So, you’ve racked up another incredible victory… that must be an enormous satisfaction! It was your No. 1 objective for the season, to retain your rainbow jersey. You also wanted to have the perfect season, winning everything. Well, you’re right on track, congratulations! How does it feel?

Thanks. I’ve finally realised my all-time dream of winning everything in a season. Undefeated! I’m so happy! It’s crazy ! I’ve had an amazing season, I still can’t quite believe it… A Huge thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this incredible season. Staff, sponsors, family, everyone… Thank you all! It’s fantastic!

Did you celebrate? Your whole team and family were by your side at the competition; the joy must have been immense for you and for them, the perfect season and a fourth world title…

No, not yet. I still haven’t had time to celebrate! Straight after the final, Claire, Anna and I hit the road – I had a show in the South of France to get to. We had to drive through the night! But I will, don’t worry! I’ve got a lot to celebrate! Nothing but good memories from a perfect season, my team, my family and my friends were all there to encourage and support me, it was amazing! One of them had even had a tshirt made with “Gilles Coustellier, World Champion 2012” on it!

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JPEG - 385.8 kb AGood job you won then! What did you think of the event in general? Did it meet your expectations? When we talked before the event we agreed that previous events had been disappointing, Then when you arrived and found the sections laid out in a car park, you didn’t look very impressed, along with the other riders, some of whom had travelled a long way to be there. The final offered a bit more of a spectacle, with plenty of spectators, despite the late hour. What did you make if it all?

To be honest, I think that it was the best World Championship that I’ve been to, in terms of the difficulty of the sections. Sure, they weren’t the prettiest, but I’d rather have ugly sections with a good level of difficulty. The organisation was great too. I take my hat off to them! The final took place at night, and it certainly pulled in the crowds, so I think that’s a good thing. However, it does mean that it’s a long day for the riders. Doing nothing all day, just waiting for the final, isn’t great. But then when you see the crowd and the atmosphere, you realise that it is a good time to run it. It was the first time that I’d seen such a good crowd and atmosphere at a World Championship. I was surprised! It was crazy! I really, really loved this year’s event; the organisation, the people, the atmosphere… It was great! I only have one thing to say to the team behind it: BRAVO!

Let’s talk about the competition… It went well for you from start to finish. It was the same old story in the semis, you made a clear statement of intent, with a near-perfect trial of just four points in three laps. You even had a clean second lap! So you applied the pressure early and ensured that you were last out in the final. A great start!

Like I said, I’m not going to ease off anymore… Not in qualifying, not in the final, not ever... I went into the semi-final to win it. I took the lead on the first lap and improved on that on the second. I wanted to show, right from the off, that I was going to win. And I did!

JPEG - 253.7 kb You attacked the final ferociously, saying on Facebook “Nine hours til the final. Ready for combat!" and coming out fighting from the first section until the last, while your main adversary, Kenny Belaey, racked up the mistakes. You made a couple of errors of your own on the beer section and the rocks… Tell us about your incredible final!

Yeah, I was on the attack from the off. I was focussed and determined and wanted to take the lead in the first few sections. My first lap went brilliantly and I was quite a way ahead of the rest, which allowed me to pile on the pressure. The five on my first section of the second lap cost me, but not too much, I still had the lead. The second five on the rocks wasn’t really my fault… I hadn’t realised that my front wheel was buckled, so when I tried to pivot on it, I lost my balance and came off. But, after two errors, I regained my concentration, calmed myself down and it was Coustellier time! Haha!

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And you know big things happen in Coustellier time! There were some very big moves in the final - huge sidehops, gaps and steps… just how you like it! And then there were the massive crowds… What was your favourite thing about the event?

The bit that will stay with me is managing to get up the huge wooden A in section five. I was the only one to manage it! It was massive - I had to work really hard to get up, but when I finally managed it it was amazing! And with the crowd behind me – it doesn’t get better than that! I only all the worlds were like that…

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JPEG - 282.7 kb You’re the leader of a French team that, particularly this year, seems to be a real collective, despite the fact that it is an individual sport, especially for you. Did the team play much of a role in your victory?

To say that the French team had played a decisive role in my victory would be false, it was my own personal team that contributed most to the win. But of course, this year the team did make a difference: the atmosphere, the staff, it was all brilliant. We trained together and helped each other. Serge is in his element, I think he’s the best person to manage such a team. With time, I’ve matured and realised that it is important to play the game with the team, and for the team to play the game with me. Thanks to all of them!

Did you follow the 20” competition? We know you like to watch Vince ride… He could have snatched victory from the Spaniards, but had to make do with bronze…

Yeah, I just followed Vince round in the 20” final. I would have liked him to win. He could have done as well. He’s shaken things up in 20" and could have done big things, but he made too many mistakes and ended up in third. Like I’ve said before, I like his riding more than the others. He may have only finished in third, but next year things will be tighter – he only started riding 20” at the start of the year! Abel had bad luck too, mechanical problems on both bikes! SO unlucky! I think the title was his; he was riding so well! It’s a shame that he lost the title as a result of problems with his bikes.

JPEG - 333.9 kb This World Championship saw all of he favourites crowned apart from one… Jack Carthy was just beaten by Junior European Champion David Bonzon. Did you have a chance to see him ride? He was devastated that he missed out on the top spot…

I didn’t see the Juniors ride at all. I just heard that Jack finished second… I was surprised, but Bonzon rode with his head and didn’t make any big mistakes or take any big risks, which paid off for him in the end… Carthy is young, he wants to attack everything. It’s all or nothing with him… I take my hat off to Bonzon for his win, but when you see Jack Carthy’s results in the World Cups...

Yeah, we all expected Jack to win, he certainy seems to be the favourite… You’ve started training again haven’t you? Some people must be wondering why you bother, with the level that you’re already at! But it’s true that the season still isn’t over…

Exactly. I had one day off, but I can tell you, it’s hard to get motivated to train after you’ve just won the World Championship. The season usually finishes after that, but this year there are three more competitions! I had a few bad rides before finding my rhythm again. I just kept telling myself that in three weeks I can eat what I like, ride my motor bike, relax… Haha. I’ve been eating Pringles and M&Ms though… But I still want to win in Martigues and Geneva, so I’m still taking things seriously…

It’s good to know that even you have bad days on the bike… it’s reassuring for us mere mortals… So there are three big trials left for you this season, the Pro Series, Geneva and K-124 Days. Is it important for you to win them all? You’re the current leader in all three, in a strong position – will you still give it your all?

I’ll be focussing on Martiques and Geneva. After that I think I’ll take it easy and just try to have fun at K-124 Days. The results will be what it is, it’s not as important as the others.

JPEG - 235.8 kb Martigues, your home town, welcoming the world elite, that must be pretty cool. Are you getting impatient? The whole town will be behind you, it’ll be YOUR day!

It’s looking good, yeah. I had a look round the other day, it’s all coming on very well… Jean Flambart and the Event Performance know what they’re doing! I can’t wait to get started, It’ll be weird to ride in an international competition in my home town, in front of my friends... We’ll see how it goes! Whatever happens, it’ll be a great day, I’m sure!

We’re sure you’ll do well! Trials fans and uninitiated spectators alike are all blown away by your performances. You’ve elevated trials to an incredible level… Do you have any advice for your fans? How can they get to be as good as you?

Haha… there’s no miracle solution. I work hard all year long, in the cold, in the heat… I think that’s the key. Dedication and training! I’m the kind of person who always looks to perfect techniques, new moves, etc. I do a lot of physical preparation with Xavier Barbier from Performance Athlétique which allows me to progress further. I owe him a lot! And my dad, for all the work on the bike… But the best advice I can give anyone is to have fun, take your time, and the rest will come. It has to stay a passion if you want to get to the top! And you have to be super-competitive as well!

JPEG - 443.4 kb OK, we’ll keep that in mind!

Just before you go, a quick word from Abel, who in a recent interview said that you were the best rider in the world, thanking you for the spectacle that you provide and for the inspiration with which you provide him. He says he gets goose bumps when he watches you ride…

Yeah, I’m touched by what Abel said. Coming from a rider like him, it means a lot! I’ve got huge respect for Abel, I’m a big fan! It means so much that one of the best 20” riders would say that about me. Thanks Abel!

So, that’s it. Thanks very much for your time! Keep up the good work! Thank you too – you keep up YOUR good work! Ciao!

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