We last spoke with Loic Bruni after an exciting finish to the World Cup season in Snowshoe, West Virginia, where he clinched the overall by a slim 40-point margin. Coming into the 2020 season, all eyes were going to be on the Frenchman. Instead of brushing off the cobwebs and competing in what would have undoubtedly been an exciting start to the season in Lousa two weeks ago, the World Champion is stuck at his parents' home in France, with no clear plan for when the season will start. Bruni talks about his feelings coming into the season, the frustrations of not being able to ride, and how it's difficult to stay motivated when the race schedule is up in the air.
How were you feeling coming into the 2020 season?
It was a bit weird to be honest, starting early after such a crazy season in 2019. I had a mixed feeling between confidence and doubts on being ready or not. I always see so many videos of other riders and I feel like they go faster than me. Then you get to the races and it's suddenly a little more even. I realize I trained hard and smartly, but serenely, and I might have stayed in the zone too much. A few weeks prior to Lousã, I started to hit everything harder and then I felt ready. I was in a delicate position, everyone wants to beat me now. There are not as many people stoked for me when I win as there was a few years ago, and I feel this position. Last year I was hunted for most of the season and I barely held on as I have never been in that position before.
What were your first thoughts when you heard that the first round of the World Cup is canceled?
I kinda felt it coming, there were other events around the world cancelled. So I can't say I was fully surprised. At first, I was a bit light about it, I had few more weeks to prepare. Then the next days it escalated really quick in Europe and everything started to fall apart and shut down. Same for my mind, at that moment, I knew I was not controlling what was happening and that first race postponing came after such a solid winter, living towards that goal and training hard, going to wet places to ride mud, designing kits... Everything was suddenly cut off. So frustration came and it was hard.
What are you going to be doing instead of racing in the next couple of weeks?
Well now, our next race is Andorra, and it is not sure yet. The future is so blurry and unpredictable that I do not really know what to do. For sure staying fit is important but I don't know how to train and for when, so there is no point right now to prepare for something uncertain. The plan is to respect the confinement as much as possible and avoid getting anyone close ill.
How are you staying motivated?
Motivation is the hardest thing to find in my brain nowadays. To be honest, in the long run, I am motivated to race again, but right now I am not motivated. I am trying to enjoy time with the family but after days and days, I am a little over it. Socially, it's mainly through Instagram that I talk to people, not the same. Man, it is hard.
What is your situation like in France?
Well, normally I live in Andorra but I decided to be with the family instead of alone there for I don't know how many weeks. So I am staying at my parents' house during this confinement period, I am lucky because they have a nice house and I made a home gym ages ago there so I can train there. The garden is massive but smaller when you are limited to it. Malene [Degn] went back to Denmark where they can still ride outside, alone, but still ride. Here you can only go out for 1 hour and 1km away from your home. If not you can get a fine going from 135€ to 3500€ if you get caught more than once.
What has and hasn't changed with your training?
Everthing has changed, apart from the gym maybe, but we still have to restart from scratch because the build-up to the season has been totally wasted. Technically there is not much I can do to practice MTB skills, speed, commitment or whatever. I can not even clean trails. So it's mainly a physical maintenance plan at the moment. I am training on the PlayStation though!
How are you dealing with changing flights and accommodations?
That is not my part of the job so I don't know what's up with that. I am assuming it is hard for the team managers to cancel everything, probably losing money in the process, and have to be reactive whenever we will have news on the new dates. So many companies and businesses are gonna lose money. I hope we are done as soon as possible with this shit.
What are you doing to protect yourself from getting the virus?
It's 24/7 on TV so I do like most of us, follow the rules. I stay at home. I am really trying to respect that. My sister is a nurse and she tells me every day how delicate the situation is at the hospital, so I don't wanna be a dick. At the same time, our government does not know what to do, they change their speech every second day. I think it is not easy to take the right decisions, in any case, many people will die. I just hope they learn from this crisis and stop f*cking it up even more, just like they have been doing so far.