Present Olympics Athletes >> Julien Absalon
- Date of birth
- Professional debut
Bianchi International (2001-2006), Orbea (since 2007)
Olympic Games (2 medals - 2 gold)
- 1st (2004, 2008)
World Championships (6 medals, 4 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
- 1st (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), 2nd (2009), 3rd (2011)
European Championships (5 medals, 1 gold, 4 silver)
- 1st (2006), 2nd (2003, 2005, 2007, 2011)
- Overall: 1st (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), 2nd (2010), 3rd (2011)
Absalon not ready to abdicate
Frenchman Julien Absalon has been the master of cross-country mountain biking since winning Olympic gold in 2004 and successfully defending his crown four years later at Beijing.
But he is now on the wrong side of 30 and showing signs his career may just be on the wane going into the London Games.
He won his fifth World Cup title in 2009 but failed to win a major event since, although he did finish second at Euro 2011 and third at the world championships.
Czech specialist Jaroslav Kulhavy is the reigning world champion and favourite to dethrone Absalon.
The difference between the two men is that Absalon knows what it takes to win an Olympic title, and his experience as proven by his victory during a pre-Olympic test on the London circuit may come into play in the battle for gold.
Born in August 1980 in France's eastern mountains a family friend initiated him to the sport as a teen and within months he had managed fourth place in the French championships.
World junior champion in 1998, he then won the under-23 world title one year later only to have the victory completely overshadowed by the death of his father and greatest supporter.
He concentrated on the World Cup in his first elite season and won it, also managing silver at the European championships. But it was a weary athlete that struggled home 12th at the world championships that same season.
That first disappointment seemed to forge a new vigour in him and on the rugged slopes of the Parnitha at the Athens Olympics the 24-year-old had a full minute to spare at the finish line.
The same year, he won his first world title and repeated the feat one year later but the best was yet to come for the new number one.
The 2006 campaign was a wonderful year for him, claiming the world championship, World Cup and the European championship. In 2007 he became the first man since the creation of the world championships in 1990 to win a fourth straight title, and he won the World Cup with an event to spare.
"It's incredible what you can do with the mind. An effort that I can maintain for eight minutes in training, I can now do for practically two hours of racing," he explains.
In September 2007, he won his fourth straight world title, a first in mountain biking, which preceeded his second Olympic title at Beijing in 2008 where he was too strong for the field.
A fifth World Cup title followed in 2009 before a dip in form that will give his rivals hope of dethroning the champion on the London circuit in the summer of 2012.
Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.