Elite Cyclists Examine and Approve Elancourt’s VTT Track

The French cycling team is in good shape. On Sunday, September 24, the French riders excelled in all areas. While Christophe Laporte won the European road race championship in Assen, the mountain bikers Victor Koretzky and Loana Lecomte triumphed on the future Olympic mountain bike course in Elancourt.

Following sailing in Marseille and triathlon in the Seine, it was now the turn of mountain biking to hold a test event in the Yvelines, serving as a major dress rehearsal for Paris 2024. While the event sometimes resembled a crash test with missed turns, flat tires, and uncertain strategies, the French riders remained unfazed. With ten months to go until the Olympic showdown on July 28 and 29, 2024, the French achieved a prestigious double in both the men’s and women’s events. This was an opportunity to tackle a course with a unique profile.

“The circuit is very physically demanding, and it becomes even more technical at high speeds. We are constantly being challenged. It’s true mountain biking!” said Loana Lecomte after her victory, amid the cheers of the 3,000 spectators present at the test event. To understand the enthusiasm of the Olympic silver medalist, one must delve into the characteristics of the course.

At first glance, Elancourt doesn’t appear to be much different from any other mountain bike site: wooded sections alternate with open spaces, and technical descents give way to imposing wooden modules. However, less than a week ago, the 52-hectare hill was still a playground for bulldozers and excavators.

“The hill used to be a former landfill, then a junkyard, and was eventually left abandoned. A year ago, it was covered 90% with dense undergrowth,” recalls Yohann Vachette, deputy director of Bike Solutions, the company responsible for designing the track.

As a member of the French mountain biking team from 1996 to 2005, Vachette witnessed the evolution of his sport before venturing into track design: “In my time, there were very few specific features, maybe just a couple of alterations to a trail. Today, we have a track built from scratch with rock formations, jumps, banked turns, to make it spectacular, with a level of technicality worthy of the Olympics!”

Through these works, the highest point in the Ile-de-France region (231 meters) has undergone a transformation. Several areas have been decontaminated, natural spaces have been protected, and a 4.35 km mountain bike track has been laid out. The operation cost 12 million euros.

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