The story is beautiful. For the first time, Tahiti took part, this Wednesday during the mixed relay, in the World Road Championship. Taruia Krainer heard the good news a month and a half ago. Before the race, we had to do a first time trial. “We were informed a little late. We tried to find chrono bikes because we didn’t have any”relates, to DirectVelo, the former Team Europcar intern. Thanks to word of mouth, the six Tahitians have all found a machine. “I have an old Trek from Armstrong’s time, he smiled. We didn’t take the lead but we all had to have a time trial bike because that’s the base, regardless of the circuit”.
THE SECOND YOUTH OF ÉLODIE TOUFFET
To find riders, the technical adviser from Tahiti had no trouble. He built a team in a single day. “We even had replacements”. Among the workforce, a certain Élodie Touffet, 3rd in the 2006 French Championship at Chantonnay and worked for several UCI teams. “Taruia is my neighbor! He lives above my house. We get on very well. My spouse and Taruia are good friends. It is also thanks to him that we settled in Tahiti. We came several times then we settled in 2021, following a friendly story. It was an important opportunity to seize. We try the adventure with the children. If it works, so much the better and if not, we will have tried the experiment”says the 42-year-old athlete, currently a bailiff’s clerk.
She had stopped cycling and could not really imagine resuming due to the steep terrain on the Pacific island. “I didn’t want to hear about it anymore. But the president pushed me to take a license. So I started to ride a little”. A month after her arrival, she contested a race. “I didn’t do too badly and it revived me. But really to have fun, running and cycling. I combined the two, it was great. I relived a second youth”. Then Taruia Krainer told him about the Australian World Cup. “I told him he was crazy, that I didn’t have the level for that. But when he announced that it was for the mixed relay… It’s an honor and a great investment for Polynesia. It was my first international competition since 2008!”.
FLAGS OF TAHITI
The Tahitians did things well, with bi-weekly training. “The goal was to form one group”, says Taruia Krainer. Thanks to his six years at Vendée U, he had valuable advice to give to his teammates. “I took some exercises that we were doing. It helped me a lot. Everyone worked well behind”. With a common desire to take full advantage of this unique moment. They stayed in an airbnb, in Wollongong, one kilometer from the finish area. “We wanted to make the most of it. We are in the process of creating something, a nucleus, a family”. He does not hide having had a certain emotion at the time of starting. “There were a few Tahitian flags in different places. In the end, it was really the grail of the grail. It’s something huge”.
Once the first two Tahitians arrived, the girls took over. With a very different state of mind between the three women. “I know the enthusiasm of the World Championships, the big races… I came without stress, assures Élodie Touffet. We had nothing to lose so I tried to relax everyone. Yesterday (Tuesday), at recce, I felt that the girls were a little tense. You had to know how to play with the wind and with the technical turns. Me, I like it, but it can be stressful”. She had to wait for her teammates in several turns. “I had to slow down. Otherwise, we would have gained more time but that’s how it is, that’s the game”.
ATTRACTING YOUNG PEOPLE
The six Tahitians were still able to take advantage of the hot seats (see ranking). “This World Cup was an exceptional moment. We will never forget it. We will be marked for life”, promises Taruia Krainer. After the World Championship, he will be able to concentrate on the Tour de Tahiti, which will take place from October 30 to November 5. “It’s the biggest race we organize. We will try to prepare the event as well as possible, to attract more foreign teams. We don’t have many, we would like to raise the level of the Tour”.
At the Tahitian Federation, there are two employees, he and a secretary. “Taruia (Krainer) goes to schools to attract children a little bit, but at the races, there are not very many of us, regrets Élodie Touffet. With the time difference, it is also difficult to follow the European races. There is no great fervor”. He hopes to surf on this presence at the World Cup to develop cycling on his island. “It was to show that we also do cycling in Tahiti. The whole world saw that. It’s great. It will perhaps bring young people to ride a bike”. He will now have a great story to tell them.