Thibaut Daprela - « A More than Rewarding Season »

One year after having won much of what was on offer in World Cup Junior DH racing, Thibaut Daprela entered the top level tier of the world circuit with his first Elite season. French Cup, World Championships, World Cup... With two podiums and a 5th place overall finish in the World Cup standings, his first season amongst the big guns was much more successful than even he expected. He tells us about it.

COMMENCAL: How did you feel about this first season with the Elite Men?

Thibaut Daprela:
This season has been super enriching for me. Despite the short stint of World Cup racing which went by extremely quickly, I gained a lot of experience. And that’s probably the best part of it all! Before the season started I was not aiming higher than top 15/20. I really rode with no pressure, at my own level and cleanly, trying to make as few mistakes as possible even if we always do (laughs). Of all the races I have been able to participate in this season, it was only the last round in Lousa where I maybe felt a little more pressure, I wanted to put down a good time to keep my place in the overall classification.

C: Between your injury in March, the French Cups this summer and the World Cups in autumn, how did your preparation go?

For me, I would say this season has been split into two parts. I came back from injury in June and thanks to the French Cups this summer I was able to regain a good level, good physique and have the ideal preparation of five or six races before the World Cups. Especially since the level at the French Cups was pretty European, it was perfect for gauging myself against others and continuing to improve before the first World Cup. The fact that the season was shortened and the major races took place later in the year, it didn't change much, we quickly got back to our routine. I also had the chance to ride quite a bit this summer in Morzine on slippery tracks and in the mud, and I must say that it helped me a lot for the likes of Leogang and Maribor, where the conditions were not really what I prefer.

C: You had some great performances which perhaps you didn’t expect, first in the French Cups and then in the World Cup. Did that change your outlook?

No, not at all. Obviously, to be 3rd at the World Cup in Maribor was incredible! But that didn't change anything in my vision of events. I always want more, I am very demanding of myself and I will always have something to say about my runs. I am young, I want to keep improving and progressing. I'm proud of this season that's for sure, but it hasn't changed my outlook, not during this season nor for next season. The goals will remain the same, I will be looking to gain even more experience.

C: This season was also your first on a SUPREME DH 29/27. Did it play a part in your performances?

Yes, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I feel really good on this bike, I feel like I'm coming back to life. My position is much more natural than before. I would say that now it's the bike that adapts to me and not the other way round. The bike is livelier, the rear wheel takes up less space in turns… So yeah, I think this bike has played a role in my performance this season.

C: Is your knee injury from March in the past?

Yes, completely. It took a while to get over it, I didn't get back on my bike until June. I took the time to get it right as the season had not started. Obviously, it took a long time to get back in shape and I was behind at the French Cups in that respect. But I had the time to strengthen up before World Champs and I worked hard and eventually progressed. When you are young, you recover quicker!




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