A test event will take place on Sunday on the hill located in Yvelines, which will host the Olympic event in eleven months.
After sailing in Marseille in July and the triathlon in August, it’s the turn of mountain biking to get its bearings with a view to the 2024 Paris Olympics during a test event on Sunday on the Elancourt hill in Yvelines. . Around forty pilots among the men and as many among the women will be at the start of the dress rehearsal on this artificial mound to the west of Paris, the highest point of the Ile de France (231 m), with a view, in the distance, of Eiffel Tower.
Among the riders present are stars of the discipline such as the Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, world champion in August in Glasgow, or the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, also crowned king of the world in Scotland but on the road. In Elancourt, they will discover a new track on a site – a former landfill – still under construction and contested by local residents and elected environmentalists.
The sporting stakes of the weekend are limited. The test event will not count for the World Cup for example and does not serve as a qualifying event for the Olympics. “It’s a weekend of work and recognition more than performance», notes the manager of the French mountain bike team, Yvan Clolus. “But it’s an important moment for us, a big point of reference for the athletes, because nothing is more like the Games than the test event of the Games.», he adds.
Beyond the adjustments for the athletes and for the 4,350 km long track – the route could undergo small modifications depending on the feelings of the weekend.but nothing major» according to Paris-2024 – it is also a question of honing the system and all the extras to be ready to welcome 15,000 spectators and cameras from around the world on July 28 and 29, 2024. “It’s time to make a pit stop.», summarizes Anne Murac, site manager for Paris-2024, citing the spectator flow, transport, security, catering, ticketing and even medical services.
The impact on local residents and traders will also be closely scrutinized as the French Golf Open and the Paris-Versailles foot race take place in the immediate vicinity on Sunday. The event is sold out: 5,000 tickets – digital to to your smartphone – were distributed to local residents, licensees, members of the Paris 2024 club and partners. The public is encouraged to come by public transport and the bus offer has been strengthened accordingly, particularly from Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines station. On site, spectators will discover a site which “is not finished, bare, not yet gred, with little covering», warns Anne Murac.
A website “polluted»
The development work carried out by the Olympic Works Delivery Company (Solideo), at a cost of 12 million euros according to Laurent Mazaury, vice-president of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines responsible for Sports, began in October last with a slight delay. The choice of the Elancourt site to host the two half-days of Olympic events was denounced by a collective of local residents and elected environmentalists. They point out the impact on the environment and deforestation “mive» of this entirely artificial mound of 52 hectares, also called Revenge Hill. They also alert on a site “polluted» after having served for a long time as a landfill and automobile scrapyard, before being abandoned around thirty years ago.
Since then, nature has reclaimed its rights and the hill has become a place for walks. A mountain bike race, La Revancharde, is also organized there every year. As a legacy, the objective is to preserve the Olympic track, capable of hosting other international competitions after the Games, but also to allow, after new developments until the end of 2025, “mixed use of the hill for bike enthusiasts, walkers, families and runners», explains Laurent Mazaury.