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Sabrina Jonnier, of HyÃ©res, France, concluded her UCI World Cup season at Val di Sole, Italy, at the weekend with a seventh place, landing her in fifth overall for the season.
Tough season: 2010 UCI Downhill World Cup Champion Sabrina Jonnier, of HyÃ¨res, France, finished seventh at Val di Sole, Italy, for the seventh and final UCI World Cup Downhill, at the weekend. Her result took her to fifth overall in the 2011 series.
Credit: Adventure Media Group/SÃ©bastien Boue
The emotional Maxxis-Rocky Mountain rider said she could not find her rhtyhm on the dusty track and was dissatisfied with the result.
“It is a really tough track and I just had the worse weekend of my life,” she offers.
“I got sick with a stomach bug on Thursday and then I’ve been struggling all weekend to find myself on this track. The bike is set up really well, but I couldn’t carry speed anywhere and didn’t feel good on this track.”
Jonnier had recovered from the bug by race day, but said she then struggled with the heat and humidity.
“It felt like it was taking all my energy. I would warm up at the start like usual, but I felt empty,” she said.
After finishing third at La Bresse, France, two weeks ago, Jonnier felt she had tapped back into her speed again and hoped the longer track at Val di Sole would reward her.
“It’s a long track, but it’s not the technical riding that suits me -it’s just too complicated for me,” she smiles.
“In life I can only do one thing at a time and on this track I feel like I have to be careful of the rocks and the sun is on and off through the trees -to me there are too many things I have to be careful about, so I easily lose my lines and my speed.”
The Val di Sole World Cup round is a triple header this year and that means the downhill track gets ridden significantly more than usual.
“We have qualifying on Friday and then we have Saturday to practise on the track. The conditions were perfect yesterday -it rained on Friday night and the track was really good and I felt better. But today the track was just destroyed,” Jonnier explains.
“I never felt happy on my bike on my race run. Out of the start the first technical bit was alright, but then I kept adding small mistakes -I kept hitting the wrong rocks and couldn’t carry speed through all the holes. I really struggled to maintain my speed and then I ran wide in the corners on the fast sections and got right off the track. I was so angry with myself.”
Jonnier said she felt she lacked strength at Val di Sole.
“Normally on a track like this I do not feel it in my legs, but midway I nearly couldn’t handle my bike anymore I was so tired.”
While Jonnier was not able to find her way to the podium in Italy, she was excited to see two of her fellow French riders rise to the top with Myriam Nicole taking her first ever World Cup win and Floriane Pugin close by in second.
“I am ashamed to admit it, but I was a bit upset with myself so I did not stay in the finish area. But I could see the screen and they both looked really, really good on the track. It is amazing for Myriam to win her first World Cup there. It looks like 2011 was a good year for the young girls to come through.”
Tracy Moseley, of Great Britain, finished fifth at Val di Sole, sealing her victory in the 2011 World Cup season.
“I am happy that Tracy has got the win overall -she deserves it so much,” smiles Jonnier.
On Friday, Jonnier celebrated her 30th birthday with her team and racers.
“My team gave me a cake on Friday night and all the racers were way too nice to me on Friday, it was very cool and the team worked hard to make sure everything was working well on race day. I was hoping to get a good result for them here,” she smiles.
“I think turning 30 is a big thing in life. It has changed the way I think a bit -I am even more careful when I ride and when I am doing crazy things. It’s a big time to think about my life,” Jonnier shares.
“I have been racing a bike for 24 years now! I have been on the bike for most of my life.”
During that time, Jonnier has established herself as one of the greatest female racers ever seen in the sport with five Downhill World Cup Championships and two Downhill World Championships to her credit. In the past 10 years Jonnier has never been outside the top three in the World Cup Championship. Her fifth this year, is her worst result since she turned senior.
“It’s hard to go from winning the World Cup to fifth. I think it has just been an off season for me,” she admits.
“I really wanted to treat myself on my birthday with a good race, but it didn’t happen -I have two more weeks now to work on it for the World Champs,” she asserts.
The World Championships will be held at ChampÃ©ry, Switzerland, from August 31 to September 4.
“Champery is different -it’s also a steep track, but it’s quite different. I do not know what I need to work on -I need to talk with my coach.”
Jonnier will prepare for the World Championships at Les Gets, France.
“It is only an hour away from ChampÃ©ry so will be less travelling. I need to ride and rest to be strong for the World Champs.”
Beyond the World Champs, Jonnier is planning to return to New Zealand to prepare for the 2012 season.
“I want to get back on the deal. I don’t want to retire that way so I will do everything I can to get back there.”