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by Fabien Barel

I had a dream...

The day I started riding MTB, I had the dream to become World Champion. Two months after finishing college, in Les GETS 2004, was my first Elite title. The overwhelming emotions of this moment taught me an amazing life lesson. It is not what you do that is important but who you share it with... The emotions and support of my family, my mechanic, teamates and friends were so strong that it gave me wings that day.

For that same reason, the day I crashed hard and broke myself in pieces last year, I had another dream. The dream to reach back to the top of my sport to shake everyone's hand proudly and move on to other goals. The faces of my family and friend in the hospital room will stay engraved in my mind for the rest of my life.

I don't believe that my story is very different than many others, but the only thing I know is that World Cup racing has been, for me, a real school for life. I have been leaming about myself and how to push above my mental limits, leaming about the others and how to choose my friends. MTB is a huge family and a very small world. All riders and people coming from different cultures and background is forcing us to open our eyes to something different.

I have been racing five years in France, two years in the USA, one year in Spain, two years in the UK, three years in Monte Carlo and four years managing my own team. The only thing I know is that no one is perfect. There is the good and bad in each of us - it is each of our responsibilities to extract the good side of things.

I would like to thank all the people who made this journey possible. All the riders and individuals who inspired me along the way. And I have to say that I enjoyed every second of it, even in the hardest situations. It is time for me to move on. I will remain very involved with mountain biking to help the
sport and share my experience gathered over the years.

But before, I have another challenge to face. I broke four ribs last week while training in Champéry and whatever pain I feel, I plan to be racing and to have the intense pleasure of crossing the finish line one more time!

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