Last weekend, not only the European Cycling Championships took place on a former rubbish dump, but also the test event for the mountain biking Olympic Games in the Paris area. Upon returning to the Netherlands, In de Leiderstrui spoke with national coach Gerben de Knegt about his findings from the course in France.
Élancourt, that is the name of the hill near the French capital where the competition for Olympic gold, silver and bronze will take place in the context of the 2024 Games. "The whole race took place on an old rubbish dump from 1800, but it is all beautifully overgrown terrain. That is really wonderful," the Dutch coach confides.
"We didn't know exactly what to expect, but we can't complain," De Knegt said when asked. "They had thrown a lot of gravel on it. When it was a bit wet on Friday and we arrived, it was a big mess. That was really sticky, rubbish. The organization knew that too and had therefore thrown a lot of gravel on it, but it had not yet been completely broken in. There were therefore some falls, especially when riding in with the front wheel sliding on the gravel. That made it a bit atypical."
Atypical, which also attracted some criticism. Reigning Olympic champion Tom Pidcock did not want to be too negative, but did make it clear that he did not really agree with the amount of gravel on the circuit. "I understand Pidcock's criticism. 95% was on gravel, which had not yet been broken in very well. However, that's what it is. I think it's a good thing they did that, because if it rains it's impossible to cycle. It just takes some time."