Franck Durivaux: Being a French national track cycling team coach “is a lot of pressure”

Tiphaine Paucot-Landelle

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Cycling World Championships ended this weekend, a year before the Olympic Games. Hosts France have topped the medals table with five in gold and two in bronze. Let’s know more about one the coaches, Franck Durivaux.

French track cycling team. (Image Credit: Eric Feferberg / AFP)
French track cycling team. (Image Credit: Eric Feferberg / AFP)

Franck Durivaux is not one of the most famous French track cyclists we know, but he is certainly one of the most important persons in the discipline, he is one of the two French national track cycling team coaches, since last June.

But don’t be wrong, Franck Durivaux is not a stranger to competition. Three times national champion, he reached the podium on several occasions to the World Championships. Clear-headed, he realised that the next generations were stronger. “The two racing-cyclists, behind me at that time, are currently the best of the world” he explains.

Surprisingly, Franck Durivaux does not miss competition. What he loves is the sport in itself. According to him, he was meant to be a coach: “They had more willpower for competition, I was more committed to studies and coaching”, he adds.

Building a relationship

He is well qualified for this role and knows what his coaching should focus on. Franck Durivaux is specialized in the sprint disciplines. To be the bests, the racing-cyclists need “strength and velocity”. But that is not all.

Unexpectedly, track cycling is not just about being fast, it requires strategy and psychological skills. “It leads to everything, as you have to know where to place yourself but most importantly you can’t have any doubts”, he confides, “you have to be strong-minded to confront the others and outrun them”.

Franck Durivaux (Image Credit: Rock'n'Rollin Cycling Team / flickr)
Franck Durivaux (Image Credit: Rock’n’Rollin Cycling Team / flickr)

Being a good coach isn’t easy, it requires a lot of exchanges. As Franck Durivaux deals with an “elite audience”, he has to build a relationship. “I have to take into account their experience to progress”. He cannot impose his own view if he wants to elaborate something, he adds. They have to communicate on a sharing basis. However, it is not about friendship, Franck cautiously says that “for a start, respect would be great”. No doubt he has special connection with those he works with for a long time.

Pressure, pressure

If Franck Durivaux should resume his profession, he would say that “it is just a lot of pressure!” – he laughs. Few months after becoming French national track-cycling team coach, Franck Durivaux had to face the European Championships. France has ranked fourth with two medals on each steps of the podium. As stressful as they could be, they have only shown the level of the team on a national scale.

They were not Franck’s main objective. The 2015 World Championships took place in France this weekend, on February 18th-22nd. “Certainly, there were a lot of pressure because they were at home but to me, this event was a completion and I was very enthusiastic”.

Franck sometimes still has issue to realize which position he has and which high stakes that come with it, he tries to project himself. Indeed, he explains that when you prepare the 2015 World Championships, you cannot forget that a year after you will probably face the Olympic Games. “It is in a corner of my head because I have to think about this major objective”.

Laurent Gané and Franck Durivaux (Image Credit: Roland Tissier / flickr)
Laurent Gané and Franck Durivaux (Image Credit: Roland Tissier / flickr)

A future craftsman?

It is hard for the new team coach as he arrived in a period of transition. New coaches, new rules, new facilities, everything was changing. “At the beginning I was a bit forsaken because for a time I was the only one in charge”, explains Franck.

It is only in early October that Laurent Gané was called to join him. Franck was relieved and their partnership seems to work really well: “Laurent is a invaluable aid and we have a really good vibe”. Coaches do not want to be alone and take all the credit for themselves. At least, it is not Franck Durivaux’s will.

On the contrary, he wishes they could be three or four. Now that they form a good duo and that the changes seem to have eased up, Franck wants to put his own stamp on the team: “The thing I really want to bring is serenity in order to work peacefully”.

Franck Durivaux is passionate about his sport but will he do this for the rest of his life? “To be fully honest, I don’t think so”. This sincere answer surprised me, however I can understand it. He explains that being a sportsperson and having so much pressure on your shoulders is hard to live permanently, especially now that he has a son. He has already thought about reinventing himself. “I surely see myself in the construction building for instance”…

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Tiphaine Paucot-Landelle