The legacy of the French superstar, who ended his career a few days ago, took off at the Italian circuit. The legend began in Brescia
The news of Julien Absalon’s retirement, one of the greatest riders in Mountain Bike history, came as a shock in the cycling world. 2 Olympic gold medals (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008), 5 World and European titles, 7 overall World Cup triumphs with 33 stage wins: these are the highlights of the Frenchman’s incredible career, whose first steps at the elite level were taken in Italy, after three World titles in the youth categories.
In fact, in the 2003 season, a young Absalon with the Bianchi Motorex jersey won Internazionali d’Italia’s opening round in Brescia, repeating the following month in Monticello Brianza, after placing second in Ortona. The advantage summed in the opening rounds allowed Absalon to win the overall while standing with third in the closing round in Bologna.
The overall win at Internazionali d’Italia launched Absalon to the top of the Mountain Bike movement worldwide. Three weeks later, the athlete born in Raon-aux-Bois won his first World Cup round in the Elite category in Mont-Sainte-Anne (Canada). From that moment on, Absalon’s career reached the peak: in 2004, le Roi conquered the first gold Olympic medal at Athens 2004 winning ahead of Hermida (Spain) and Brentjens (Netherland), followed by the first Elite World title in Les Gets (France), preceding compatriot Cedric Ravanel and Swiss Thomas Frischknecht.
Two years later, in the 2006 season, Absalon was back and won the Internazionali d’Italia overall standings for the second time with the Bianchi jersey: a perfect springboard for an unforgettable season, characterized by the triumphs at World Championships, European Championships, French Championships and in the World Cup overall standings thanks to the wins in Madrid (Spain), Spa (Belgium) and Fort William (Great Britain).
15 years after his first success in the most important Cross Country circuit in Italy, Absalon was expected to join the Internazionali d’Italia Series’ fourth and last stage, Alpago Bike Funtastic, in Chies d’Alpago (Belluno, Northern Italy) on Saturday, June 30th. “It’s just too bad that Absalon will not feature in our final showdown – said CM Outdoor Event’s Michele Mondini – but we respect his decision. Absalon’s retirement is a big loss for the Mountain Bike movement: I think that Julien has been a model for a generation of athletes and MTB enthusiasts. We wish him all the best for his new career as Team Manager, and hope to see him again soon at Internazionali d’Italia Series”.