Fabien Barel approached downhill with a rare intensity and passion that marked him out as a special racer.
He left the sport after 17 years with four World Cup wins and two World Championships but definitely had the speed and talent for more. Where other racers in this series have spoken about never racing at 100 per cent, Barel is the opposite and every second he spent on the bike was done with one purpose – winning.
This, of course, led to injuries, most of them horrific, but he never stopped pushing. The stories of when it came together are legendary – Les Gets ’04, Fort William ’09, Maribor ’10. Throughout his career this attitude marked out Barel as a man you could simply never discount.
His connection with bikes continued after his downhill career as an early pioneer of enduro and now as a key component in the Canyon Factory Racing program. We caught up with him to chat about his racing ethos and the first 25 years of downhill racing.