Thibaut Daprela had an incredible two years racing as a Junior with back to back World Cup overall titles. For 2020 he is stepping up to Elites although with a recent injury and after event cancellations and postponements we have a little while longer to see how he will fare with the Elites.
We caught up with Thibaut to talk about how he got started in downhill, how the virus is affecting his season and what he hopes for the future.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in the French Riviera around 20 minutes from Cannes and I’m still living in the same place, it's a calm and chill place.
Who do you ride for?
I’m riding for the Commencal/Muc-off by Riding Addiction team.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As I’m still at school, for me a classic day is going to school for half of the day and then training, but most of the time I do a first training session in the morning then I go to school and then have another training session after school.
How did you get into downhill racing?
Basically, I was riding BMX in my younger days because in BMX you can do, for example, World Championships and European Championships from the youngest age and that what drove me for years because with downhill in France you can’t do any races before you're 15 years old. I had always planned to start downhill races from 15 as soon as I could race, I have always ridden MTB and it was what I loved the most.
Thibault Daprela at the Blausasc BMX Track opening in 2016. Photos: Matt Wragg
What are your strengths?
I think it’s my commitment on the bike combined with strength and BMX skills.
What are your weaknesses?
My weaknesses are trying to go too fast too early and specific corners.
What’s been the worse crash you've had?
My worst crash was last year in Vallnord during the finals run, I may have forgot to put the fingers on the brake during this run!
Where’s your favorite place to ride?
For me, the best place is where I live because in approximately 90 minutes of driving you have so many places to ride for enduro and downhill and each spot is amazing. Plus you have good weather and a sea view most of the time.
What bikes are you riding right now?
I’m riding my downhill bike, a Commencal Supreme DH.
Who or what inspires you?
The people who inspire me are mostly hard workers and successful people. Whatever it is, in sport or in business, there are always things to learn from these people but to give you a name in MTB, Nicolas Vouilloz. We have known each other since I was born. There is also another person in MTB but I will keep the name secret because he's still on the WC circuit haha.
What do you enjoy doing away from bikes?
I really like real estate, it is a hobby for me. Then I love riding moto during the winter and in summer when we don’t have races wake surfing.
What do you do to rest and recover after a race?
I take cold baths and our amazing physio Brieuc take care of us, and I try to stay relaxed and not move too much to keep my energy and have a faster recovery.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into racing?
My advice is to put a lot of work and commitment into the sport and being ready to make sacrifices.
How do you get focused before dropping into a race run?
I don’t need to get focus everything come naturally, I have my routine.
Where do you think the future of downhill racing is headed?
As we saw last year, the riders were super close in timing because they are very serious compared to 10 or even 5 years ago. There are also the tracks, which are, for the most part, not too natural and very fast. In my eyes it’s not the best way, old school tracks were more fun and less dangerous.
How has the spread of Coronavirus affected you so far?
Unfortunately, I injured my knee during the early outbreak of the virus so it was good for me at the beginning because I knew that some races will be cancelled or postponed but the coronavirus has taken so much impact all over the world than on my personal interest. We all need to stay safe at home to reduce the problem.
What are your plans going forward to work around the limitations put in place against the virus?
As I said previously, I can’t ride so I stay confined at home and I try to adapt my training with the machines that I have in my own workout room.