The Paris 2024 “site tour” continues. Thursday, May 11, the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Cojop) stopped at the National Velodrome of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, established in the neighboring city of Montigny-le-Bretonneux (Yvelines), theater of future races of bicycle motocross (BMX). On the program, the presentation of BMX Racing (Olympic discipline since 2008), whose events will be held on the 1er and August 2, 2024.
Erected below the National Velodrome, the BMX stadium is a four hundred meter long track, made up of a starting hill perched eight meters high, several bumps, and formidable 180 degree turns. Originally planned as part of Paris’ bid for the 2012 Olympics – ultimately awarded to London – the site cost 74 million euros, 53 million of which were funded by the state. The site, which can accommodate nine thousand spectators, is the first indoor track in continental Europe.
On Thursday, five French athletes were on site for a presentation of the course and its difficulties. Léo Garoyan, 23, tricolor rider, world champion hopes of BMX racing in 2022, knows the places like the back of his hand. “We are lucky to be able to train on the course every dayhe explains. If I take part in the Games, I will arrive knowing it like the back of my hand. »
During his demonstration alongside his compatriots, Léo Garoyan defies obstacles with a semblance of ease with each pedal stroke. But a place in the Olympics is, for the moment, only a hypothesis for the young athlete. “We enter the Olympic qualification phase in a monthhe points out. To say to yourself that we can be there is huge, but I am not putting any pressure on myself yet concerning my participation. »
Everything is not yet ready on the site, as evidenced by the building materials piled up under the decor of the Saint-Quentin track. Some additions should appear soon. “They will change the track shortly, but they don’t want to talk to us about the changes at the moment”explains Léo Garoyan, who will still have the opportunity to discover the final configuration in preview.
A permanent installation
As for other Paris 2024 sites, the post-Olympic period was planned from the outset. The BMX stadium will welcome the athletes so that they can train and competitions can be organized there. “This Olympic stadium is a workplace “, ures Michel Callot, president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC).
At the world level, the French BMX is well represented, like Sylvain André and Joris Daudet, world champions, respectively in 2022 and 2016. But despite their talent, the French have never had an Olympic podium. To date, only Anne-Caroline Chausson has won a medal (bronze), in 2008, during the Beijing Games.
“It’s a discipline for which we have ambitions, because we have athletes who climb on all the international podiumsures the chairman of the FCC. We are waiting for an Olympic consecration, and we would like it to be in France, on this track. » Michel Callot is counting on these Olympic Games to “building a legacy on the successes of runners”.
On Thursday, during BMX racing or BMX flat initiations (a non-Olympic discipline based on figures with the bicycle), twenty-four members of the Club Paris 2024 drawn were able to test the site of the next Olympics. “Making our sites accessible to the general public is the DNA of these Paris 2024 Gamesinsists Aurélie Merle, sports director of Paris 2024. We want to allow him to take part in the Olympic adventure and rub shoulders with the athletes. »
“Le Monde” deciphers the news and the challenges of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
After the initiation, Romain, 27, is out of breath. “We do not realize, on television, sensations and physical efforts”, observes the apprentice rider while quenching his thirst. During his lap, he was able to draw inspiration from the professionals who preceded him. “They are athletic, we don’t have the same physical condition, he jokes. At the time of departure, on the hill, it’s a little scary, but it really gives good feelings. »
If France, the world’s leading nation in the BMX racing rankings, retains its rank, it could increase its chances of medals at the Paris Games, by registering more riders for the Olympics. The next big event for world BMX, in view of the Olympic qualifications, will take place in Glasgow (Scotland), from August 3 to 13. The French riders will aim to grab points to try to win a place among the forty-eight athletes who will find themselves, in 2024, on the starting hill of the Olympic stadium in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.