TFR's newest downhill rider opens up about his new teammates, new attitude and joining one of downhill's youngest teams
Loris Vergier unlocked something deep within himself with the help of a sports psychologist last year.
“I’m not a really, really aggressive person, I’m more passive aggressive,” Vergier says. “So we tried to bring that crazy guy that I have inside me back to life.”
The result of that newfound aggression? One of the best seasons of his career. Vergier won two World Cup and two French Cup series races on his way to finishing as the No. 2 overall elite men’s downhill rider at just 24 years old. On Jan. 1, he joined Trek Factory Racing, where he plans to push himself even further alongside World Champion Reece Wilson, Charlie Harrison and Kade Edwards.
“You have cool teammates, fast teammates and then a company that wants your best,” Vergier says of joining Trek. “That’s the best deal.”
In the edited conversation below, Vergier discusses his decision to join Trek, the keys to his successful 2020 and the best moment of his cycling career. He also comes to the painful realization that he’s the oldest member of his team.
Why was 2020 such a good year for you? You did well in the World Cups. You did well in the Coupe de France. Why do you think you performed so well?
Loris Vergier: I think it was a package of everything. We had the opportunity to ride a mullet [Note: “mullet” refers to a bike with two different wheel sizes] this year, and I think that helped a lot with how I can ride a bike. I could move around a little bit more, and get my wheels where I want, and not make that many mistakes.
And also the fact that we actually had a lot of racing in France. We had like five or six races previous to the World Cups, so I was racing a lot before anything happened in the World Cups. I just got used to riding my bike, riding in races and what to do to feel good and go faster. I think that was a big deal for me this year.
I also had a mental coach who helped me a little bit to figure out what’s the best tool to feel confident and be ready on race day. I’m still learning, like we are all learning every year, every time. So I’m not at my best, but I’m trying hard.
When you start thinking while racing you slow down and make mistakes. The best thing is actually to just turn everything off and go for it.
What sort of things did the race psychologist help you with? How did they help you with the mental side of sports?
Vergier: So basically, I’m not a really, really aggressive person, I’m more passive aggressive. When it’s race day, I’m not scared, I just don’t want to fight people. So we tried to bring that crazy guy that I have inside me back to life.
And also trying to not think, because that’s the thing, when you start thinking while racing you slow down and make mistakes. The best thing is actually to just turn everything off and go for it and feel confident. So tools like that, and then [it was good] just having someone to talk to when you have issues with stuff in general — overthinking, switching teams, they actually helped me a lot with that. He was like, “You know what, I think you should go for what’s best for you, and sometimes it’s hard but you need to keep moving forward and think for yourself.”
That makes sense. What does coming to Trek do for you? What are you looking to get out of your new relationship with a new team?
Vergier: I trusted the system. I trusted Trek to bring me to the top and help me achieve what I’m meant to do. And everything that we talked about, the resources, almost like the love, that was really big. And I was like, “OK, I want to be there. I want to be part of that.” Everyone I’ve talked to, everything that’s been in place that I see is amazing. And I think we’re gonna do great stuff. I’m just super, super happy to see everything that’s been made and that’s happening already. The little things I saw, I’m like, “Whoo, that’s [EXPLETIVE] nice.”
I’m gonna have a sick road bike, I’m going to be surrounded by good and really smart people. I think we have the right amount of people involved in technical support, and that’s the part I feel is the most important. I love to talk about that, and I have so many people to talk to at Trek, and I love it. I’m really happy.
I trusted the system. I trusted Trek to bring me to the top and help me achieve what I'm meant to do.
How do you feel about the fact that you will be the oldest person on the team? You’re sort of the grizzled veteran now, about a month older than Reece.
Vergier: That’s crazy, because it’s probably one of the biggest teams; four riders is quite a lot. Am I actually the oldest?
By 35 days, but yeah.
Vergier: That’s crazy. But I like it. I mean, I’ve always been the kid, and I’m not the kid anymore. I proved that I’m kind of fast, and I moved to a team that wanted me, and now I’m like the oldest, so it’s cool.
Prior to joining trek had you spent a lot of time interacting with Reece, Charlie and Kade? What sense of the team dynamic do you have?
Vergier: So from the outside, that’s why I was convinced [to come]. It looked like one of the cool teams — the cool people, the cool riders. From the outside, it doesn’t look like it does on the inside. [Trek] is professional and everything is done right. It’s moving into the future and progressing all the time. And the riders are just chill. So it’s the best combo. You have cool teammates, fast teammates and then a company that wants your best. That’s the best deal.
What are your goals for the 2021 season, for yourself and for the team?
Vergier: It was a weird year, because obviously some people were injured. But you can always improve yourself and improve everything, and I feel like I have that idea in my mind about what could be done and what could be achievable. I think we have all the tools to improve basically everything. We have a short offseason, so it’s gonna be way different than usual. No time to have holidays. [Laughs]
I think we just all want to progress all the time. By the time you feel like you’re at the peak, it’s just like, “What do you do now?” I’m not there and I just want to ride fast and feel good.
What’s your favorite moment ever on a bike?
Vergier: When I was leaving my old team, I checked some pictures, and I came across a picture that I could maybe cry over. It’s a picture of my dad and me after winning my first World Cup, like both crying. There’s nothing that compares. It takes your emotions, and the first one is crazy. So that was the highlight of my career so far.
I came across a picture that I could maybe cry over. It's a picture of my dad and me after winning my first World Cup.
What’s something people don’t already know about you that you’d like them to know?
Vergier: Something that nobody knows about me. Um. I need to think about this one. I don’t like beer. I don’t like real beer. I like cocktails more than beer. I can probably think of something else —
No, I think that works.