“Our exercise is a type of luxurious”

Guillaume Martin is an expert bike owner, member of the Cofidis workforce. He completed finest climber within the Tour of Spain 2020, and took eighth place within the Tour de France 2021. He’s additionally a velosopher » and has revealed two books the place philosophy and sport come collectively: Socrates on a bicycle and The Platoon Societyby which he talks about ecology.


Reporterre — Over the past Tour de France, in July, the riders had been exhausted by the excessive warmth. How do you expertise being a high athlete on a disordered planet? ?

William Martin — Now we have a giant, very large drawback. I particularly bear in mind the Tour of Spain 2021 [Guillaume Martin s’était accroché pour finir 9ᵉ de la course, malgré des douleurs costales et au sacrum]. For a number of days, we had been via unimaginable warmth, significantly within the south of Spain. [Le record absolu de chaleur en Espagne avait été battu en pleine Vuelta [1], with 47.4 levels recorded in Cordoba]. I bear in mind a stage the place, for 5 hours, my speedometer didn’t drop under 33°C. On common we had been round 39°C as we climbed in altitude. For a second, I questioned what I used to be doing there, making excessive efforts in excessive temperatures, whereas the authorities suggested the inhabitants to remain cloistered at dwelling with the shutters closed.

Currently, we understand that in our disordered world, it is going to be increasingly difficult to play sports activities. Very concretely, on the earth of biking, this raises the query of the group of races at sure instances of the 12 months. I’m not positive that the Tour de France can proceed to be held in July. The well being of runners and spectators is dependent upon it. After which, with the results of local weather change, we’re going to face very important issues, similar to starvation. Will cycle racing nonetheless be our focus then? ? In any case, through the Covid, they had been thought of non-essential. Our exercise is a luxurious type of our leisure society.



Frequent journey, busy schedule… What the life-style of a high runner seems like ?

My lifestyle is extra polluting than that of a mean citizen. It is apparent. I spend 200 to 250 days away from dwelling a 12 months. That does not imply I fly on daily basis, however nonetheless, it is the popular mode of transportation. That is the one which saves essentially the most restoration time. It’s these additional hours of restoration, which typically make the distinction, which permit us to realize nice efficiency in a race, to pedal sooner the following day. And these performances are our livelihood.



You typically put the bike on the airplane…

That is the entire paradox of this sport which is practiced with a mild mode of motion. Sure, typically the bike finally ends up on the airplane. And through the time of a cycle race, there are definitely 180 cyclists, however there are as many, if no more, motorized automobiles round which can open the highway – for the publicity caravan – and the administrators’ automobiles athletes who comply with us. We’re equipped with merchandise wrapped in plastic, similar to power bars. In coaching, I attempt to put together them myself, however within the race it is not possible.

We realized that we could not all the time go for extra. Guillaume Martin, right here on March 10, 2022. © Mathilde Lazou



Do you suppose the world of biking is altering, taking the measure of the ecological disaster ?

There’s slowly an consciousness and efforts which are made. We attempt to discover the lesser evil, with automobiles that run on electrical, taking the prepare slightly extra. However is it sufficient ? Unsure.



Should not we decelerate ?

Sure. And that additionally joins psychological issues. Some runners cannot take it anymore. Our career is demanding. Expectations are excessive, we’re continuously requested to exceed our limits. In recent times, many runners have stopped every thing due to burnouts and despair. I’ve the sensation that on this aspect, issues are altering. That we’re already in a section the place we’re decreasing the depth of the seasons, with fewer races and higher focused aims. We realized that we could not all the time go for extra.



The World Cup in Qatar sheds harsh mild on the ecological excesses of main sports activities competitions. Can it trigger an ideal questioning of sports activities our bodies ?

It permits us to lift this debate, however I’ve the impression that we’re waking up late. It was the identical with respect to OJ winter in Beijing, with the Chinese language repression in opposition to the Uyghurs within the Xinjiang area. These competitions ought to by no means have been awarded. Afterwards, the athletes have been making ready for it for years, we won’t cease every thing just a few weeks earlier than…

We will in all probability entertain ourselves in a extra cheap approach »



What’s the energy of the athlete, exactly ? Is he in a position to say that is sufficient » ?

I’m removed from being one of the vital well-known sportsmen in France, however I really feel that by getting access to media channels, I can ship messages. There’s a type of duty in that. However I am not very snug with it. It isn’t my nature, not my character, I do not really feel like making large speeches or finishing up a revolution. I am afraid of being a lecturer. There are however extra competent individuals, such because the scientists of the IPCC. They’re those who needs to be listened to first, no ? And I haven’t got the decision-making energy of a politician. Duties shouldn’t be reversed.



What’s the way forward for main sports activities competitions ?

There are lots of good facets to those occasions. Biking has opened as much as the nations of South America, which now play main roles, as do riders from East Africa. Globalized sport permits individuals from all walks of life to fulfill and talk about. I’d discover it very unhappy to shut inside our borders, to lose the curiosity of the opposite. Alternatively, it’s undoubtedly essential to amend the best way by which we arrange these main competitions. Do we’d like so many automobiles on a cycle race, such a protracted entrance promoting caravan ? We want leisure, however we are able to in all probability entertain ourselves in a extra cheap approach.



What do we’ve got to be taught from the biking world within the combat in opposition to local weather change ? By way of cooperation, for instance.

In my guide The Platoon Society, I drew a parallel with the best way by which mycorrhizal fungi enter into symbiosis with timber, by which they colonize the roots. The tree offers the fungus with sugars from photosynthesis, whereas the fungus offers the tree with vitamins. A person sport practiced in a workforce, biking works a bit the identical approach: it is a hierarchical universe, with its energy video games and exchanged providers.

Take the case of a breakaway. Regardless of their rivalry, the fugitives don’t have any alternative however to collaborate and harmonize their efforts to withstand the primary group’s return. It’s a must to take over, get alongside, cooperate. However mutual help is just not assured: it’s skilled on the bottom, everybody should understand that, even when there shall be just one winner, to go to the top it is going to be essential to work collectively. Generally the miracle occurs and the breakaway goes all the best way. Generally there’s a runner who’s reluctant to take over, and it doesn’t work. Within the face of the ecological disaster, are we not like this recalcitrant runner who privileges his personal curiosity, with out seeing that this harms the entire group? ?

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