Cross country mountain bike racing got short shrift during the coronavirus pandemic, but one rider made the most of every competition she entered. For three weeks, French pro Loana Lecomte raced her way from podium to podium, beginning with her unforgettable World Cup win in Nové Město in early October.
The five-day, four-race series in the Czech Republic was the 21-year old’s first time racing in the elite ranks. After finishing third in the opening short track race, Lecomte powered past world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot during the third lap of the cross country race to take her first win in the elite ranks. Three days later, she finished third in the second and final cross-country event.
Then, Lecomte went on to win back-to-back championships, scooping up the U23 world and European titles in a week’s time.
We caught up with the young Frenchwoman as she wrapped up four weeks off the bike following her impressive 2020 season.
VeloNews: What is your history of cycling? Have you always been a mountain biker?
Loana Lecomte: When I was a child I practiced downhill skiing. But my parents and I wanted that I do a summer sport and we chose the mountain bike in the ski station where I lived (Les Carroz, France). I was eight years old.
VN: How did you spend the COVID-19 lockdown period? What did your training look like? How did you feel mentally?
LL: Honestly, I spent a very good COVID lockdown period. I was in my hometown, in Aviernoz in Les Alpes. During this period, my training looked like a lot of runs and work-out training, yoga, and rollers. But I didn’t have a home trainer connected! Mentally I think I felt good and I was lucky to live in the mountains.
VN: What do you attribute your amazing performances at the World Cup and world championships to? What was different or not different about your preparation this year?
LL: I think I did so well at the World Cup and world championships because I was fresh mentally and physically. And because I didn’t just ride a bike during this period. The only difference about my preparation this year is just I trained a little bit more because I was upgraded to the elite category.
VN: What was it like being so young in the elite field at the World Cup? Were you nervous?
LL: To being so young in the elite race was impressive and exciting at the same time. I wasn’t nervous because my only goal in these races was to discover the elite World Cup! Yes, there are a lot of women I look up to as a rider and to me, it was a dream to race with Kate Courtney, Jolanda Neff, Jenny Rissveds, etc. My teammate Julie Bresset offered me some advice and it was very important for me.
VN: What is your favorite memory from the World Cup series and world champs? What are you most proud of?
LL: My favorite memory from the World Cup is my first elite World Cup victory, especially during the third lap when I overtook Pauline Ferrand Prevot in the technical section. From the world championships, my favorite memory is just when I win my first world champion title in U23. The race of which I am the proudest is my World Cup win!
VN: What does the off-season look like for you? When will you start training again?
LL: My off-season looked like a lot of running and hiking and some cooking! I restart my training only this week.
VN: What do you like to do off of the bike?
LL: Off the bike, I like to run, hike, cook, and spend good times with my family and friends.