What is the proudest moment in your career?
I think it’s my eighth place in Paris-Roubaix last year. We wrote history that day. It was the first edition and it was pretty dramatic weather. I crossed the line, I had mud on my face and I could see my team-mates on the podium. I was like, this is so cool. I was really emotional and I think that’s probably the best day of my life so far on the bike.
If you won the lottery, how would you use the money?
I would build my own cycling team.
What’s one of your earliest memories of riding a bike?
I remember the first day I went to the cycling school in my home town. My dad was a cyclist and he was sort of pushing me to go. I went there with a mountain bike and I had my dad’s helmet on, which was a skateboarding helmet. I was looking at my team-mates and I knew I looked a bit shit, I really didn’t look like them! I went back home after the first training session and I said to my dad: there is no way I’m going to go back to this cycling school with this outfit. I said, buy me a normal helmet and I want a road bike, even if it’s too big or too small. I want a road bike.
What’s your biggest motivation to work hard?
Winning. Winning myself or with the team.
When the off season starts, what’s your go-to food or drink?
I’m French, so I like good wine and good cheese. The first thing me and my husband do is have a nice dinner with friends. I have all the cheese I want, all the good bread and all the wine I want. I like enjoying the moments that you can’t enjoy in the season because you’re so focused on what you eat and what you drink. It’s a little bit of a relief to be a normal person for a few days.
What’s your favourite movie?
It’s called La Boum with Sophie Marceau, a pretty famous French actress. It’s about a group of teenagers. Me and my sister, we’ve watched it at least 100 times! Even when it’s on TV, I still watch it.
If you could pick your favourite place in the world to ride a bike, where would it be?
I would pick my Bretagne, for sure. I’m in love with my region. I don’t think anyone is more in love than me. It’s a special land of cycling and people love cyclists, so I feel really secure. There’s something in the atmosphere just pushing you to be the best and it’s always been the place I feel the most myself.
What does the Tour de France Femmes mean to you?
I’m so proud that the French organisation is finally moving on for women’s cycling. That’s something I’ve been fighting for for so many years. I’m proud that this sport is growing so much in France. I think we were so backwards until now. I was pretty jealous of the British, actually, because when I went to London in 2012 for the Olympics, I saw Lizzie [Deignan] on a big poster in the middle of London. I was like, that’s what I want for France. That’s what I want. I have the feeling that we’re there now. I know it’s 10 years later, but we’re there.
If you could pick one person to have a dinner party with, who would it be?
I wish I could talk with Emmanuel Macron, our President of the Republic, because the past couple of months, there have been a lot of discussions about him and the way he manages the country. I was always pushing for him, but I had some doubts at one point. I’m pretty glad he won in the end, but I wish I could talk a bit more to him about how he sees France, how he sees France in the world, how he sees sports as well, because that’s crucial with the upcoming Olympics.
Do you have any skills you’d like to learn?
I started to try surfing and I think I’d like to get good at that. And sailing too. I like sea sports and in Bretagne it’s quite easy to do.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
I remember stopping for a pee with some other riders in a race, but there wasn’t enough space for me by the roadside. In women’s cycling you have to hide yourself a little bit, which is stupid but, anyway, I had to go under a barbed wire fence to find a place. But I got stuck. My jersey got caught and I couldn’t get out. I knew if I pulled away, I’d be practically naked but I had to get back to the race. I ended up going back to the peloton with the jersey all ripped and lots of my team-mates were asking me if I crashed, but I hadn’t and it was pretty embarrassing.
Who is your funniest team-mate?
Chloe Hosking. She makes me laugh so much. I’ve known her since 2014 but I used to find her pretty cold and strange and bitchy, but now I’m team-mates with her, I’m like, I love this girl! I room with her all the time and we laugh a lot.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
I would say believe in yourself more, believe in your ability to be a good rider and don’t put yourself down so much. Trust your abilities.
This interview was originally published in Rouleur 112, support our journalism by subscribing here