UCI World Championships Recap with 4iiii Mountain Bike Athletes: Ophélie Grandmont & Zorak Paillé
Posted by Andrew Davidson on September 6, 2023
The dust has settled on Glasgow, Scotland’s successful hosting of the UCI World Championships, dubbed “Super World’s”, as it combined 13 different disciplines and was the world’s biggest-ever cycling event to date. With over 200 rainbow jerseys awarded to newly crowned world champions and over 2,600 athletes gathering for the championships, it was a true melting pot for all things cycling. We were fortunate to have several 4iiii athletes present, proudly representing their national teams, including U23 cross-country mountain bike talents, Ophélie Grandmont and Zorak Paillé, racing with Team Canada. We caught up with them post-worlds to get their thoughts on their races and everything surrounding their experience, including the use of their new PRECISION 3+ Powermeters, which were launched at the championships.
Was this your first time lining up as a member of Team Canada for a World Championship, if not what others have you competed in?
O: This year was my second time lining up at World Champs with the Canadian national team. I was also a part of the team last year in Les Gets, France for my last year as a Junior (U19).
Z: This was my third time lining up at World Champs, but my first time in the U23 category. I’ve previously been to Les Gets, France and Val Di Sole, Italy for World Champs in my Junior category years.
How long in advance were you in Glasgow before your first event, and what did your preparation leading up to the competition look like?
O: I arrived in Scotland on Sunday, August 5th, six days before my race (Saturday 11th). I went to the track twice before my race which consisted of a total of 4 laps. On Tuesday I completed two laps, lap 1 consisted of riding the course without stopping and taking all the B lines while lap 2 included stopping and studying the lines at every feature and technical aspect. I returned Thursday for more recon, lap 3 of the course was to confirm line choices from the previous ride and lap 4 was a “hot lap”, to see how everything flowed at race pace and a good leg opener for Saturday.
Z: I was in Glasgow exactly a week before my XCO race. I prepared exactly how I would prepare for any other big races… nothing crazy, basically, the first few days are spent trying to adjust to the time zone and then I pre-ride the course for the rest of the week. I do a few intervals, letting that intensity open the legs before race day.
What did you think of the XCO course? How was that gap jump?
O: I absolutely loved the course! It’s probably one of my favourites that I’ve ever ridden. I am a girl who loves big features, jumps and technical stuff, it’s one of my strengths as a racer. The gap jump was actually less scary than it looked on the course preview video I had watched on YouTube before going on track. We came with a lot of speed from a steep descent and we actually had to brake before the gap to make sure to not overshoot it!
Z: Although the lap distance was short, I thought the XCO course was pretty nice overall. The main talking point of the course was all of the big features. Once I had those dialed in, I felt good and enjoyed them. I know from a spectator’s point of view, the gap jump seemed pretty intimidating, but as a rider, the steep chute just before was way harder to nail.
How did your race go? Anything you would do differently if you could re-ride it?
O: My race went pretty well! I’m proud of my performance and I felt good during the race. I had one mishap; I crashed after the gap jump in the 3rd lap. I was coming in a bit too hot and the course was very dry compared to pre-ride and I slipped in the gravel corner right after the landing. It messed with my concentration a bit, but I recovered pretty well and finished strong.
Z: My race wasn’t my best performance, it left me wanting a lot more. However, for my first year in the U23 category, and a lot of setbacks throughout the season, it was really rewarding to qualify for the World Champs and be a part of the Team Canada squad. If I could re-ride it, I wouldn’t make changes to the race itself, but I would for sure make some adjustments to the week leading up to the race.
What was the atmosphere like while racing / how were the crowds?
O: The crowds were nice and gave me lots of energy! Especially after my crash, everyone cheered loudly as I got up quickly and got back on my bike.
Z: I was really impressed by the atmosphere for the U23 race. So many spectators were cheering on the Canadians, it almost felt like a home race - which always gives us an extra boost!
What other events did you watch (if any) and how was it being a spectator?
O: I watched the Elites races the day after my race. It was great being a spectator and getting to cheer on all our Elite teammates, as well as getting to watch all of my idols race the biggest event of the year!
Z: Once I was done racing I was able to watch the U23 women’s race, as well as the Elite men’s and women’s races. Especially as a U23 rider, watching the Elite men was so spectacular and you can really learn so much from watching the pros. Of course seeing the Juniors on Team Canada (Ian Ackert, Isablle Holmgren, and Marin Lowe) podium in the events leading up to my race was unreal and so inspiring - it’s tough to watch events before your own race, but the energy from those performances was contagious.
What do you think of the “Super Worlds” format… should they keep it?
O: I liked the “Super Worlds” format as multiple world champions across several disciplines were getting crowned at the same time, but I also think there was a downside to it. Every discipline raced at a different venue pretty far away from each other so it was hard to go see other disciplines races. I felt like it was less of a celebration in comparison to my experience from last year in France where Cross country and Downhill World Championships were happening at the same time at the same venue (people from the two disciplines were mixed with each other).
Z: Personally, I think the “Super Worlds” format is a great idea for spectators and racers in general, but it would probably need some refinement. For example, some riders had to choose between disciplines due to races overlapping, and some disciplines saw fewer spectators (like XC and DHI) because they weren’t held together like they usually are. Despite those small tweaks, the entire event was fantastic - especially considering this was the first time ever having a cycling event of that size!
O: I had a chance to try out the Apple Find My feature on the PRECISION 3+ in my travels and it came especially handy on my return as my bike got stuck at Toronto Pearson Airport. I was able to call the airline and tell them where it was, so it would get found quicker and track it all the way until it was delivered to my house. It takes a lot of stress off my shoulders to know where my bike is at all times.
Z: I had the chance to use the Apple Find My feature on the PRECISION 3+ a lot on this trip, and the experience was amazing. I’m glad a company like 4iiii came up with this genius idea because now my bike can always be found, and the best thing is no one knows the Find My feature is even there (extra stealthy). An unexpected bonus of this feature was being able to track my bike’s location once it arrived in Scotland. Our accommodations were quite far from the race site, so I was able to track my bike’s location to know when the mechanics were leaving or coming back with my bike. Overall it’s such a neat feature and I’m excited to discover more ways that it will be useful for me in the future.