20-year-old DH prodigy Thibaut Dapréla tells us about injuring his tongue, winning his first World Cup just a week later, and how to tumble dry your shoes.

Thibaut Dapréla, you had a terrible crash at the French Cup at the end of June, injuring your tongue. Can you talk us through what happened?

I just tried something I didn’t want to try. It was a really easy line, but I made a stupid mistake. And it was scary for sure because I was in the helicopter and it was the first time. And it was scary because they said I might have something broken in the neck. 

But when they said after the scan everything was good I was feeling not good but OK. But the moment I woke up I knew I would be good, just the tongue was really bad. Then I was not scared because I was already in the mood to ride Les Gets, focussed and hungry to get back up there on the bike.

Thibaut Daprela performs at UCI DH World Cup in Les Gets, France on July 3rd, 2021

Then the very next week you came back and won at Les Gets, how did that feel?

It was absolutely crazy. In Les Gets I take a big crash, once again on the head, because sometimes you come back on the bike after such a big crash and it’s hard. It was crazy, so emotional, I put so much energy in the week to be ready and in shape. I went out of the hospital on Saturday morning, on Saturday night I was back home. Sunday I didn’t do any track walk I was still at home, with the doctors, trying to be ready. 

I didn’t even enjoy the win because I was completely done. No more energy. And the two weeks after I was also done, completely tired.

Why is there such strength in depth with French riders?

I think it’s just a coincidence, maybe the tracks. It’s a bit also because Loris [Vergier] and me are coming from the same club. Maybe that’s a big part. 

I know Loic [Bruni] and Loris since I was eight years old, we rode together quite a lot. And Loris and I have the same trainer, so we train together sometimes. And Loris was Loic’s best friend, and we’ve all known Nico for a lot of years. And we all came from the same place. 

Thibaut Daprela seen at UCI DH World Cup in Les Gets, France on July 3rd, 2021. Red Bull Content Pool.

Who did you look up to growing up?

Since I was young I’ve been riding with Nico Vouilloz. He took me under his shoulder for three years. We keep a really good relationship because he is like my family, and creates a big example. And for the riding style, Aaron Gwin. 

How do you keep your shoes so white?

I try to use them normally, don’t take care of the shoes, not every time I ride but almost I just put them in the washing machine and tumble dryer, for real! Even in the race I do that because I like to have clean shoes, they’re white. And I just use two pairs for the winter. 

Fizik has been amazing since the first time I worked with them. The shoes feel good to my foot, really thin and really light. Really stiff but at the same time comfortable on the pedals. So for me it was amazing, when it’s muddy they’re really grippy.

Lenzerheide is this weekend, where will you be happy finishing?

I really like the track, it suits me well, it’s a bit bike park, really fast like Leogang. My goal is to be on the podium every weekend. I will be the same as Maribor, I don’t try to take too much risk, just ride to be on the podium. I’m here to win, but I’m here for the overall, just try to make a good run to be on the box and mark some big points. For this race this is the goal, then we’ll see. The goal is to be top five quali and race.