Célia Gery prevails despite crash in under-19 French Road Championship

In a dramatic conclusion to the under-19 women’s road race at the French Cycling Championships in Altkirch, Alsace, Célia Gery overcame an early setback to claim her third title. The race, stretching over 81 km, was marked by an unfortunate incident involving a team car which impacted the leading riders.

From the outset, the pace was aggressive. “Right from the start, I wanted to stretch the peloton, and on the climb, I made my move,” Gery recounted, highlighting her strategic early break. The young riders faced a challenging circuit, famous for its demanding inclines and sharp urban turns, which added complexity to their navigation through the course.

At a crucial 31 km from the finish, disaster struck. Gery and Amandine Muller, her closest competitor, were leading when they were accidentally hit by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes team car. The director, in a moment of inattention, collided with the cyclists. “It was more of a scare than harm, and we were able to continue racing quickly,” Gery mentioned, relieved yet shaken by the event.

Despite the collision, Gery and Muller showcased remarkable resilience. Muller, visibly emotional after the race, shared, “I tried to keep up at the end of the last lap, but it was quite complicated.” The physical and psychological toll of the race was evident as she struggled to hold back tears at the finish line.

As the race progressed, the challenging Roggenberg climb was a decisive moment for the competitors. Gery managed to extend her lead here, displaying her climbing strength despite earlier adversities. “I just thought ‘damn’ when the crash happened. I wasn’t sure what to do; I didn’t know where Amandine was or if she had restarted. Once I knew, I naturally waited for her, and we continued together for a bit,” Gery described the moments following the mishap.

Julien Guiborel, the team director involved in the incident, expressed deep regret over the accident. “Personally, it takes away from the joy of the victory. I would have felt even worse if Amandine hadn’t finished second. I can’t apologise enough to both of them,” he stated, acknowledging the impact of his error.

The incident did not deter Gery from achieving victory, but it did moderate her celebration. “I wasn’t thinking much as I crossed the line… It’s unfortunate that this happened between us,” she reflected, her triumph tinged with the regret of the incident.

Despite the challenges, Gery’s performance throughout the race was undeniable, and her victory solidified her standing as a dominant force in the junior category. Her achievements in cyclocross also highlight her versatility and strength across different cycling disciplines.

The race concluded with Gery on the podium, her victory celebrated amid mixed emotions due to the earlier crash. Muller, finishing second, displayed commendable grit to secure her position despite the ordeal. The young cyclists’ ability to overcome adversity and finish strong underlines their potential and determination in the face of unforeseen challenges.

2024 French U19 National Championship result

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