Loana Lecomte, mountain biking: “This sport is my passion. I love it because it makes me feel good…”

Friday, 21 october 2022

Loana Lecomte (23), an athlete supported by Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes, is one of the rising stars of the French mountain bike team and one of the great hopes for the French Olympic team in Paris 2024. Here’s a portrait of this young sportswoman.

This young athlete from the Haute Savoie, who came first in the European cross-country championships this summer, tells us about her love of nature, a feeling indistinguishable from her passion for her sport.

What impact does sport have on your life?

I come from a family of athletes and I’ve always been involved in sport since I was a child. It’s my whole life and has become my profession. It plays a fundamental role in my life. I couldn’t live without sport.

How would you describe your transition to high-level sport?

It happened quite quickly. I went from a minor category as a junior directly to the status of an elite rider with my World Cup victory. So I suddenly found myself among professionals. But I was lucky to enjoy a lot of support and receive good advice at the right time, and the transition went smoothly. But there’s no doubt that my life changed all of a sudden compared with other girls of my age.

What is your most memorable sports event?

It’s undoubtedly Julie Bresset’s victory in the cross-country mountain biking event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. When I saw that on TV, I told my parents: that’s what I want to do…

Which champion do you most admire?

I’ve been skiing since I was a little girl so I’ve always been a great fan of Tessa Worley and Martin Fourcade.

What do you like about your discipline and why is it so special?

What I like about cross-country mountain biking is that it’s a sport practiced in the middle of nature. You’re alone in the world surrounded by magnificent scenery. And it’s a discipline that requires great physical and technical qualities but one that also gives you that sensation of freedom and escape.

What do you think about in moments of doubt?

When I feel a little down, I cling to the idea that it’s perfectly normal in the life of an athlete to have good times and bad times. And, to tell the truth, the lows are more frequent than the highs. But these difficult moments toughen you up. But this sport is my passion. I love it not for the results but because it makes me feel good…

You now get help from a psychologist?

When you reach a very high level, you’re in a completely different physical shape but, even so, psychological aspects also count for a lot. So it’s important to receive tailor-made support and, more importantly, to find the right person for you.

(Loana is supported by the former biathlete and Olympic medalist Marie-Laure Brunet).

What is your strong point?

I manage to really surpass myself to ensure that I have no regrets.

What is your typical day?

I get up at around 7:30 am.  I eat a big breakfast, usually two hard-boiled eggs, cheese… some fruit, two thick slices of bread. Also a bowl of yoghurt with seeds, nuts. I choose local products distributed using short supply circuits. I then finish with a small coffee. I then do my household chores, tidy up a bit… and then set off for my training sessions. If it’s an endurance ride, it lasts between three and four hours and the training lasts two hours for an intensity session.

I come back home, wash my bike, tinker with it a bit if necessary. Then I take a shower… Afterwards, I either prepare a meal for myself or I go to my grandparents’ house, which isn’t far away. My grandmother prepares a large salad or cooks some fish, along with some carbohydrates, or she prepares her celebrated eggplant gratin for me…

Do you always take a nap afterwards?

Yes, for about 20 minutes. After that, I take care of administrative matters, my appointments, my communications, my sponsors.  Once a week I go to see a physiotherapist in Annecy to optimize my recovery process and avoid the risk of injury.

And finally, I go home and prepare my evening meal, usually legumes to obtain vegetable proteins and to vary my protein intake, i.e. chickpeas, lentils.

And in the evening?

I get tired quite quickly. I relax, drink a small cup of herbal tea and go to bed at around 10 pm.

What about your studies?

This year I completed my STAPS degree. I’m now about to start an English course to improve the way I handle interviews and communicate with other athletes.

How do you see yourself in twenty years’ time?

I still see myself in the world of sport. I’ll be 43 years old, I won’t be doing high-level competitions… It won’t necessarily be in cycling, we’ll see what opportunities come along.

What do the Olympic Games Paris 2024 represent for your career?

It is a peak moment in an athlete’s career. In mountain biking, however, we have major competitions every year: the European Championships, the World Championships… So we have other major challenges before the Games.

How do you prepare for the Olympic Games? Is it really a special event quite different from other competitions?

People think the Games are very important because of the exceptional media exposure. It’s important to be the best on the fateful day but, basically, it’s still just another competition like any other. And you have to prepare for it like any other race. That’s how you’ll be the most successful.

If you had to choose one sporting value that you hold particularly dear?

What I find wonderful in sport is that everyone, from the first to the last, tries to surpass themselves.

Do you have another passion?

I love running, cross-country skiing and trail running. In fact, nature has a calming effect on me. I need to be alone, surrounded by mountains….

How important is the support of your partner, Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes, in your life as an elite athlete?

This support allows you to make a living from your sporting discipline, to devote yourself to it totally without having to work two or three jobs on the side. In this way, it takes away some of the pressure. When you approach a competition, you don’t say to yourself that you absolutely must win the race in order to make some money. Your mind is freer and you perform better.

Within the framework of the partnership between Groupe BPCE and the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024, Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes is supporting a team of 11 talented sportsmen and women, proudly representing their sport and their colors. 

“We share the same flame”