The French have produced some of mountain biking’s most iconic cross-country racers. And now, in a year that tested the mental toughness of many high-level athletes, the country has produced yet another world champion. His name is Jordan Sarrou, he comes from central France and has been pursuing his dream of becoming a cross-country world champion for two decades. He accomplished that goal in Leogang, Austria, in October. Sarrou, who just turned 28, is now focused on the Olympic Games in Japan, and we’re very proud to announce he’ll do it riding the all-new S-Works Epic, as part of the 2021 Specialized Factory team. We recently caught up with Sarrou to learn more about his life, his dreams and his goals with Specialized.
Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and how you started riding?
I started riding mountain bikes at eight where I grew up in Saint-Étienne in the middle of France. At 16, I left home and went to a school that allowed me to focus on mountain biking after my studies. I am now living in Lyon.
Were you always focused on cross-country? Did enduro racing or downhill interest you at all?
In France, there is a mountain bike school where you can practice and learn everything on a mountain bike. I was good at it and enjoyed both cross-country and trials, but eventually chose cross-country and focused on that.
Was there a moment early in your racing career where you decided you wanted to be a cross-country world champion?
Yes, for sure. When I decided to leave my family and go to mountain bike school when I was 16. At the time it was a hard decision, but I was really motivated to go find success and pursue my career.
Did your family support you and your decision?
Yeah, sure; my parents were totally full gas with me and supported my decision to go.
Now that you have earned the world title, what does that mean to you?
It is a big step in my career; from now I want to do really well in the Olympic Games. I didn’t expect to do this at my age. I’m 28 years old and, yeah, it was a surprise for me. When I race, I go to win and it’s a huge accomplishment for me.
It was, needless to say, a crazy year. Can you walk us through how you stayed motivated in your training through all of the Covid-19 turmoil?
I had a really good winter of training and remained in really good shape. Early in the season I did two races in Spain, which were good. Just after that, we went into lockdown for two months; it was a hard decision, but I had to adapt. After the lockdown, I felt confident since I had time to prepare for the world championships.
This is definitely a big move for you. Why does it make the most sense now to partner with Specialized?
It’s a big motivation for me and I’m very excited to ride for Specialized; they are the best brand for mountain biking and cycling, so it’s a huge excitement for me to join the family now!
What goals do you have for the 2021 race season?
Firstly, my goal is to be at the start at the Tokyo Olympic Games, then to defend my world title and be on top for the World Cup races.
Have you ridden the S-Works Epic yet?
Yeah, yeah! I’ve been riding it for about a month.
What are your first impressions?
It’s a really good bike. It’s light, stiff and everything you need for riding cross-country races. The geometry is really good and it’s extremely comfortable.
Are there any other Specialized bikes you’re hoping to ride?
I would love to ride an S-Works Enduro or an electric bike.
What kind of music would we find on your playlists?
Electronic mostly, but I love music from the ’80s and ’90s as well.
What is one meal you always look forward to after a race or hard training ride?
A homemade hamburger with sweet potatoes.
When you’re not racing or training how do you spend your time off the bike?
I like to do some projects around the house. I enjoy seeing my family and friends and of course take care of my cat, Packo. Sometimes I'll do some shopping with my wife and make the trip to Lyon to get some good coffee with her!
What shows are you streaming now?
I’m really enjoying “House of Cards” on Netflix!