Photo: Matthew DelormeAfter rumours of her retirement at the end of last season, news of her departure from Lapierre, as well as a suffering a broken hand before World Champs, 2015 wasn't looking particularly optimistic for the French rider. Now, looking forward to the year ahead, Emmeline has signed up with MS Mondraker, a team she rode for back in 2012. Arguably one of the strongest female athletes in downhill, we talk to MS Mondraker's Emmeline Ragot to find out what happened at the end of this season, and how she feels to be going back to the team for 2015. Looking back at last season, there were rumours of your retirement, is there some truth to this?
Haha, I love rumours, yup maybe it was the truth… I was at the stage of wondering what I should do because I knew since the middle of the season that I would not have another year with Lapierre. I didn’t know if I would find another team because I know how hard it is for a girl to find a team, because they see you for what you are. Was the decision to end your contract with Lapierre mutual, or was it more one sided?
It was a one sided decision, but I respect their decision. The team LP have a new project… and I’m not on this one so it’s fine. For sure I wish I could stay, I had really great years and we were like a family, but I still like them and wish them luck for the year coming. Seven World Cup podiums over seven rounds, two wins and third overall (missing out on second by 10 points) in 2014 – one of your best seasons to date, is there something specific you want to achieve before you potentially retire?
Haha I don’t know, I guess I think I would like to get the overall title before I leave. But you know even if this doesn’t happen I will not think of it all my life. I think I did most things that an athlete would like to achieve and I’m really happy about it.Photo: Nathan Hughes - Emmeline in Meribel earlier this year. How do you feel about the 2014 season, what were the highs and lows for you?
I think my high was both wins at the World Cups, and especially Windham. It was a hard race but I enjoyed it lots. The lows for sure was the end of the season with the broken hand, so frustrating when you know you just have to do two more runs before the worlds! You are arguably one of the strongest female riders on the downhill circuit, how have things changed now there is stronger competition from the likes of Manon and Tahnee?
It’s always good to have the young riders pushing, it’s helping everyone to go forward, and push everyone to perform and go faster - we need riders like that. Did you approach Mondraker or did they come to you in regards to riding for them next year?
I came to them, because I like the bike and I really liked riding for MS Mondraker three years ago. How will things work now you’re back on the team, have you agreed to any specific terms or a set number of years?
I’m happy to be back on the team, and about the terms of it, I can’t really tell you, but I want to focus on this year for now, I want to give my best for the team and myself.
Back on Mondraker in 2012, Photo: Colin Meagher You got four thirds, two second places and a win, getting on podium at all seven rounds of the World Cup in 2012 whilst on Mondraker, do you think you’ll benefit from riding a bike you’re familiar with, what’s your set-up for next season?
I had a good year with the team and Mondraker bike, and I’m happy to ride again with it as I know it will fit me. It’s funny but it’s the kind of bike you just need jump on and it’s like you’ve been riding with it forever. I don’t know lot about the set-up for now but I’ll know soon. Do you think companies do enough to encourage female riders and offer them sponsorship deals, or is it currently more difficult for women?
I sincerely think its way more difficult for the girls to find real sponsorships, everyone has their own opinion about it and it’s normal, but I don’t want to start a polemic. I’m not here for that, I just want to enjoy it now that’s all. Do you have any particular rituals before racing, something that helps get you focused?
For sure. I have little rituals before racing I guess like most riders. For example I always put my gloves on before I put my helmet on and… a lot of other things, haha, I may be crazy! How do you feel about the tracks chosen for the 2015 World Cup?
I think the tracks chosen for next year look awesome, we will have some proper downhill tracks and not too many flat ones so I’m grateful for that. And I’m especially happy about the French round in Lourdes, not many riders (except the Frenchies) know the track, but it’s always been a cool track, so hopefully the people will like it. But one thing I’m not sure I can promise you is that it will be dry weather. You suffered broken hand at the end of the season which put you out of contention for World Champs, how are you feeling now, is it giving you any trouble?
It was hard to finish the season like that (I’m still a bit sad about it), anyway. I finally end up with four breaks, not too cool. So that kind of ruined my month of holiday, and it has taken more time that we thought - it’s been hard to consolidate. I’m still going to the physiotherapy… but I am hopeful.
Photo: Dave Trumpore What is life like for you outside of racing, are you still studying physiotherapy?
It’s weird to come back to reality… yes I’m still studying physiotherapy/rehabilitation, it’s my last year and I need to write a ‘memoire’ (a big dissertation) now that I will give in June to finalize my diploma. It’s completely different to what we are doing during racing time that’s for sure. I’m actually working in a rehabilitation place with sport athletes or people of different pathology and age and it’s really interesting to see how everyone is reacting when faced with an injury, it’s real human learning and I love it. I love to help them to get better and achieve their goals. What are your plans for the next few years, would you consider trying other disciplines such as enduro or will you focus on a different career?
I don’t know yet what I will do. I maybe would like to ride some enduro, but knowing me I guess I will jump totally on a different career. I may pass on the other side of the racing but stay in as a physio to help riders to perform, who knows! What have you got planned for off season and how are you feeling about 2015?
Like always, for the off season I’m planning to train, to meet the new team
and ride the new bike, meet the other riders and try to fit in lots of studying! I’m feeling good for next season, I know it will be great fun.Follow Emmeline:FacebookWebsite
Title Image: Dave Trumpore
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