BMC Mountainbike Racing Team
- 9 National Championship titles
- 3 World Cup wins
- 2 World Cup silvers
- 4 European XCO Titles
Founded in: 2010
Founder: Alex Moos
Based in: Switzerland
The BMC MTB Racing Team is one of the leading mountain biking teams in the world. The team consists of five riders and is supported a crew of mechanics, massage therapists and other supporting staff. The key to the team’s success is a mix of experience and fresh talent, and they devote plenty of time and attention to coaching the young riders towards the podium. The team is like a second family to all members, and they enjoy spending time together outside training and race seasons as well.
(Photo Credit: EGO Promotion)
INTERVIEW WITH JULIEN ABSALON
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Raon-les-Bois, a small village close to La Bresse where the World Cup stopped a couple of times in 2012 and 2016. It’s located in the Vosges region so ideal for outdoor activities like mountain biking.
Where do you live now?
I live in Fréjus on the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur). I moved to the south a few years ago to get better training conditions. It’s sunny more than 300 days a year here! And there are plenty of trails starting from my doorstep so it’s really ideal for my life as a MTB pro rider.
How did you get started with mountain biking?
My parents had no cycling background so I started pretty late. I discovered the sport when I was 15 thanks to my neighbor who took me for rides. He thought I was good at it and advised me to take a license which I did on the same year.
What is your first memory about your sport?
I can’t really say what is my first memory but there are two moments that are key. In 1996, when I was still a “cadet” (French U17 category) I finished second of the National Championships after following the training plan of the regional coach Gérard Brocks. Since then, he has been my only trainer. Also, in 1998 I won my first World Championships. It was in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada. It was my first World Championships and I won. I don’t remember much from the race, it was so intense!
What do you love most about mountain biking?
Being outside and discovering new trails (almost) every single day.
What is your most memorable moment as an athlete?
I have hundreds of memories and it’s really hard to pick one only. So I’d say two: Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of our sport; it can’t get any better than this.
In Athens, I wasn’t a favorite, more an outsider. That day was a real day of grace! I was on cloud nine, I rode a perfect race and won gold. With the date approaching, and although it was my first Olympic experience, I felt more and more serene. At the same time I was excited and looking forward to the race. Nothing could happen to me, I was programmed to win. Now I actually don’t remember much of the race itself. We only get two or three days like this in a lifetime, this was my first one.
In Beijing, I arrived as the clear favorite. I had won four World Championships (2004 to 2007) and numerous World Cups since the last Olympics. But I had a really bad day at the 2008 World Championships (DNF) and didn’t really know my shape. I finally arrived in Beijing and wanted to have fun there. I was there to enjoy my second Olympics as much as possible. Race standards had changed a lot compared to Athens four years before. It was more difficult to open up a gap on the other riders. That was another great day, I managed the race perfectly. This title was a consecration and also a confirmation of the first one. Winning the Olympics twice, it was so awesome!
What keeps you going and motivated in your training?
I’m a focused and thorough athlete and I really enjoy training. It’s no drudgery to me. I almost enjoy training as much as racing. I trust my coach and follow his program 100%. With the new technologies, sharing programs, data and feedback is easier and I’m always looking forward to receiving the next training plan.
Do you prefer to track your power or your heart rate?
I check both. Power is good because it’s precise and doesn’t vary as much as the HR because of altitude, heat, etc.
My HR is pretty low. Checking it regularly helps me to know when my body is in great shape or when it needs recovery.
Do you follow your training progress yourself or do you leave it more to your coach?
I leave it to my coach. I met him when I was 15 and he’s been on my side since then. I owe him a large part of my success and trust him 100%. He knows my body better than anyone.
What types of cross-training do you do?
During the season, I am always on the bike (MTB or road) but during winter I do a lot of core training and try to run as well. It’s far from being fun but it’s good change.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your sport?
Getting older and facing shorter and more intense races every year! The Olympic Cross-country race format changed a lot since I started. I used to race for more than two hours on long courses with one long climb followed by one long descent. These days, courses are around four km long and full of technical features such as short but steep uphills, drops, jumps, rock gardens, etc. It’s important to do a lot of interval training to deal better with changes of rhythm. To do that properly, it’s crucial to have the right tool and my Polar bike V450 is perfect for that.
What do you like to do when you’re not training?
I’m a bit restless so I can’t lay on a beach or something like that… I like to take my Enduro bike and go with my brother Rémy for long days on the bike and of course I love to spend time with my two sons.
Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find in Wikipedia!
When I finish my career as a pro rider, I’d love to spend more time driving cars. Like many MTBers, I love motorsport. I already took part to a few races on dirt, asphalt or ice and would definitely love to get better at it.