Barel starts new downhill team

Fabien Barel (France) earned second at the 2007 World Championship Downhill

Fabien Barel (France) earned second at the 2007 World Championship Downhill (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

After arriving at a crossroads in his career, double World Champion (2004 and 2005) and last year's runner-up Fabien Barel decided to establish his own downhill team with the goal of continuing his career on his own terms and selecting the people he needs to help him perform best.

The four-time French National Champion and 2005 European champion said he will put no pressure on his hand-picked young riders to perform in 2008, but he still expects their talent will carry them through to top 10 finishes at the World Cup level. Barel, himself, will focus on regaining the rainbow jersey and staying injury-free.

The former Kona rider had the idea for a team since 2001, but the opportunity to execute it did not arrive until he partnered with Subaru France, which committed to a three-year contract to help develop young, French riders like Florent Payet and Damien Spagnolo.

Payet, 22 years-old, finished eighth at the 2007 World Championships. The Reunion Island native is now studying on the French mainland (Montpellier). His background of motorcycle trials has given him a smooth style. In 2008, he will work on his physical condition and preparation skills.

Spagnolo finished 19th at the 2007 World Championships and resides in Saint de Maurienne, Savoie. Third at the 2007 French National Championships, he will work on improving his skill for dealing with pressure this season.

The team was officially presented on March 29-30 at the French ski resort of Roubion. Paul Walton will serve as team manager and be supported by mechanic Christain Tabart.

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