In a candid interview with Le Telegramme, Breton cyclist Lucie Jounier has voiced her apprehensions about the possibility of premature retirement as she remains contractless for the 2024 season. The disconcerting situation follows a tumultuous period of both physical and emotional challenges for Jounier, casting a shadow on her professional future.
Jounier explained that her troubles began in April 2022 when she was struck by a car, an accident she initially tried to brush off. “I was in denial after the accident. I rushed back to cycling without fully dealing with the emotional baggage. I didn’t want to burden people with it, but it took a toll on me mentally,” she said. Despite an initial veneer of resilience, her performance failed to rebound, only earning her one top-10 finish since April this year. It was only a few weeks ago that Jounier realised the lingering psychological impact of the accident. “There were legal proceedings and other implications that made me realise I hadn’t moved past the incident,” she noted.
Adding to her woes, Jounier disclosed that her failed appearance at this year’s Tour de France Femmes hit her hard. “I had high hopes for the Tour, making several sacrifices to perform well, but fell ill just before the race. It’s like just when I see a glimmer of hope, something else happens. If I were to write a book about my hardships, I’d probably set a record,” she remarked bitterly.
Discussing her plans for 2024, Jounier admitted she has no contracts or leads in sight. “Although I get along well with my current team, it quickly became clear they don’t have the budget to keep me. I tried looking elsewhere, but I’m reluctant to join another unstable team after my experiences. I need stability,” she confessed. When asked whether returning to amateur cycling could be a solution, Jounier decisively rejected the idea. “Once you’ve competed in the biggest races, it’s hard to step back. Going amateur is not an option, and I’m not sure if I have the will to join a less professional team,” she stated.
As the clock ticks on the 2024 season, Jounier grapples with the daunting possibility of being forced to retire. “I’ve been contemplating putting everything aside. But giving up would also mean living with regrets, knowing I haven’t reached my full potential,” she concluded. Amid the whirlpool of setbacks, Jounier’s situation serves as a stark reminder of the uncertainties that loom large over the careers of many professional athletes. It remains to be seen whether Jounier will manage to find a lifeline in the sport she loves, or whether the weight of relentless obstacles will finally bring her journey to an untimely halt.