Évita Muzic, racing cyclist: “My sport gives me a sense of freedom…”

Thursday, 28 july 2022

Évita, a racing cyclist supported by the Caisse d’Epargne Bourgogne Franche-Comté, has devoted her life to her sport since the age of 5. She tells us about it.

A native of Franche-Comté in eastern France, Évita Muzic took up cycling when still very young and would regularly beat boys her own age before winning the titles of French champion in all categories and being crowned French Elite champion in 2021. Now aged 23, she is competing in her very first Tour de France with the FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope team. 

How has sport affected your private life? 
Sport is my entire life, my job. Everything in my life revolves around it. I’m 100% committed to it.

How did you make the transition to the top level?
It happened gradually. Since I was a little girl, I would beat the boys in races, and then the girls. I started competing when I was 5, at home in Franche-Comté… and I’ve never stopped. I’ve been cycling every weekend since then. Later on, I started sports studies in Besançon before joining a center for young hopefuls. As I managed to become French champion in all the different categories, I’ve progressed in a very regular, linear fashion. I turned professional at the age of 17 after the junior category. For the past two years, ICU* rules mean that the teams have to pay their members a compulsory minimum salary, which enables us to live off our sport. The salary changes every year with a view to enabling women to earn the same salary as men.

What is your most important sporting memory?
My most important sporting memory is my stage win in the women’s Giro d’Italia in 2020. This is because it was my first international victory and I didn’t expect it at all. It was a surreal experience but it made me more self-confident. I tell myself that I can do it again.

Which male or female champion do you admire the most?
Marianne Vos. She has the greatest track record in women’s cycling. She has taken part and triumphed in several disciplines; she’s a two-times Olympic champion in road racing, eight times world cyclo-cross champion (I’ve also competed in cyclo-cross races) and she’s also a world track cycling champion… She’s a role model for me… Even if she’s a sprinter and I’m a climber…

What do you like about your discipline and why is it so special? 
What I like about cycling is the fact that it’s an outdoor activity. Even if the training is hard, you’re training in lots of different landscapes. It allows you to escape; it gives you a sense of freedom.

What do you think about when you doubt your abilities?
I think of the major victories I’ve already achieved, especially my French championship title last year. This is because I was finding the going difficult and I almost gave up… but then I pulled myself together and ended up winning. That taught me a lot: you can win a race even if you don’t feel you’re the best!

What’s your principal strength in racing? 
Mountains… medium and high mountains: I like short, steep climbs. I’m fast on this kind of finale…

What is a typical day for you? 
First I get a good night’s sleep. I’m a heavy sleeper. Although I get up at 9am, I still set an alarm clock… Then I eat a big breakfast consisting of an omelet, ham, a bowl of oatmeal with vegetable milk, a slice of wholemeal bread with almond paste, and a small piece of fruit. Then I give myself time to digest. (On race days I have breakfast 3 hours before the start). I then go out to train at 10am and get back at around 2pm. I take a shower and then I have a proper meal or a snack depending on when I return. Then it’s recovery time: I may take a little nap, I also have electrical muscle stimulation sessions and use pressotherapy boots… I then prepare my evening meal with carbohydrates such as wheat, quinoa, pasta, rice, etc., but with vegetables and proteins, too.
How do you see yourself in twenty years?
I’ll have ended my racing career; I’ll see what opportunities pop up and how my professional life evolves… But I certainly see myself with children…

What do the Olympic Games Paris 2024 represent for your career? 
My dream is to take part. But, before that, I have to be selected and that will depend on the course. The competition will run towards Paris, so the course won’t be steep and, consequently, not very difficult… and my strength is on steep slopes… But I’d like to compete in the Olympic Games at some point in my career.

You’re competing in your first Tour de France. What does the return of this event mean for women’s cycling?
We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It’s a big step forward. We’ll have the public at the side of the road supporting us just like the men. We hope the public will be just as enthusiastic…

What is your personal goal?
I’m not the lead rider on our team; my role is to guard the two leaders. I’ll have to put pressure on our opponents, support the leaders, and seize any opportunities as and when they arise. It will be difficult to earn the right to wear the polka dot jersey because, given the configuration of the Tour with the mountains at the end, this honor is expected to go to the leaders in the general classification.

If you had to identify a single value you admire in this sport? 
Solidarity. For the general public, everyone focuses on the winner but cycling is a truly collective sport. It’s a pity, perhaps, that the yellow jersey is only given to the winners and not to their teammates. In handball, for example, and in other team sports, the whole team wins the medal!
Do you have another passion in life?
Cycling takes up most of my time. But I like to go for walks, to travel but it’s hard to find the time…

How important is the support of your partner, the Caisse d’Epargne Bourgogne Franche-Comté, in your life as an elite sportswoman?
People don’t realize how expensive it is to be an athlete! In the winter, we have to go and train in places where the weather is fine, we have to buy sports recovery equipment, it all adds up! And we’re also far from earning as much as men do and enjoying the same level of support. For the female athletes, there are things we have to pay for and we can only do so thanks to our partners who allow us to do things at 100%…

*The International Cycling Union

Photo : Thomas_Maheux

“We share the same flame”