We caught up with Fabien Barel after he was just back from watching the 2018 UCI Mountain Biking World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland in September. Having won three of the things himself, one as a junior and two as an elite rider, the Frenchman knows a fair bit about what it takes to win on downhill’s biggest day.
These days, he watches from the bottom of the track rather than riding from the top, with allegiances to the Canyon Factory Downhill Team (Troy Brosnan, Mark Wallace and Kye A’Hern) where he’s team director.
“History is happening at those events”
Despite team allegiances though, as his compatriot Loic Bruni crosses the finish line in first place to take his third World Championship title in four years the ecstasy on Fabien’s face is clear to see; as well as the clear joy of his childhood friend next to him, fellow mountain biking legend Nico Vouilloz. It’s the kind of the scenes that can happen when another year of French rule over the rainbow jersey is secured.
“Lenzerheide was super exciting,” Fabien tells me. “I have to be honest – seeing the French win and Loic doing it again, emotionally, was absolutely fantastic.