Julie Krasniak – Team Rapha/Focus
Fresh off of the pavement in France, this is the first year for Julie Krasniak to race cyclocross. Bike racing has always been a part of her life, with great results it makes sense that Rapha/Focus snatched her straight off the road circuit.
Meeting Julie for the first time at a pre-party for the Boulder Cup, she was quiet and wore a gentle smile, no doubt contemplating the weekend ahead. It had only been a week since she was racing in the Czech Republic. The very next day would be her first pedal at a US CX race, on day two, she took 5th.
After a few races in the US, we caught back up with Julie to get the scoop…
You have been racing for quite some time, can you tell us how you got started?
I really started cycling when I was 11 or 12 during summer vacation with my grandfather. My dad made me a road bike for that and I did one ride every week. It was always the same lap, something like 20 miles. It was at first more of an excuse to spend time with my grand father.
Is there a moment when you KNEW that bike racing was for you? What has been your greatest achievement so far?
The year after, I looked for a spot for me. I was very tall and muscular. I was running, swimming, playing tennis, figure skating and some gymnastics… But, I wasn’t awesome at any one thing. My dad drove me to a race in Luxembourg, I was very worried, (in luxembourg 12 year old children are like pro bike racers) So, I did my first race under rain, finished alone, off the back. I did like that at races in spring-summer around my home, often in luxembourg where you have very nice races for children and every week-end, I remember my first National Road Race, I was 12 or 13, it was so raining and I finish off the back completely frozen.
Two years later my dad coached Junior and U23 boys to my area in french cup of MTB, he took me with him to race in category 15-16 years old. He said to me it would be an ok finish if I made it in the top 10. I finish 2nd. I was so happy and very proud. After that he drove me to the whole MTB French Cup to place in the overall… At the same time I begin to win some road races. I was 6 in my National Road Race. But it was at this moment I began to think more like a racer than a normal person.
You also have some family racing heritage to speak of, can you tell us about that?
My grandfather was a good CAT1 racer until he was over 45 years old. My uncle, his son was too. My mum, his daughter meet my dad through my uncle, they have raced on the same team. It was a First category team, amateur, but, at this time pro and amateur often raced together. It was a full time job for my dad. My dad (Zbigniew Krasniak) won something like 200 races in his career over 15 years. in 1990′ He was 30 and begin to race MTB. He was Masters Worldchampion in Bromont in 1994 and 2nd in Metabief in 1993 and all category National Champion too. Also, I have brother (Thomas) who is a sport teacher and also a CAT1 racer in France. He had a few wins last year. It’s kind of a crazy family with lots of focus about sport, but also everybody have studied and gotten jobs beside the bike so that you don’t forget it will be never the real life!
I know you have experience in road and mountain bike racing. How has the transition been to cyclocross?
The transition was very very very hard, you can’t race the Road World Championship (hundred miles/4+ hours), and be fast a week after during a 40 minute race. Also, you must learn skills, close to MTB but I don’t have race a lot of MTB this two last years, even if I was very good before, it’s something you lose very fast. So, I just train and train again. Running with my bike on stairs and then race as much as possible. 12 races these last 6 weeks. And I begin to get a little bit stronger every week-end. I felt like a cyclocross racer in my effort ever since Jingle Cross in Iowa, because since this race. I can start fast and finish, which I couldn’t do ever time before.
You have recently become the first woman to race for Rapha/Focus, are they taking good care of you? Do you see more opportunity for women to join the team in the future?
I feel very lucky to joins Rapha Focus, I knew too that they take a kind of risk with me because It was my first cyclocross season. I didn’t have reference. It could have happened that I could have stayed slow. Finally, I have proved that I can race very fast. And I’m very happy to meet team at the races. I have also learned to work with a mechanic and know my bike. The team have really helped me to know that it normally takes more time to learn everything and be in perfect condition with your material.
I don’t know if the team is scheduled to add women in the future.
Julie, you are a lovely girl and the photos on the Rapha website are inspiring! Tell us about working with them to capture those special moments in riding.
I think it’s more how a photographer is great than a model! Ben Ingham shoots for Rapha and he is an awesome photographer. Do you want know how he takes these awesome pictures? We ride like normally and he follows! Just that easy. We climb some amazing col during the winter shooting in French Alps, — Col de L’Isoire, Col de L’Iseran, Cold de L’Agnel (the border with Italy is on the top)… I was more focus how the landscape was wonderful than be a model! And some part are so steep that you would like to say him to get out and see how it is hard to climb!
In Oct. at the Boulder Cup I watched you top the run up, with one lap to go and six inches of drool hung from your mouth. It was clear that you were deep in the pain cave. If it’s not too painful, can you take us to one of those moments and tell us what you are feeling/thinking?
In Boulder the first day, I was very worried about my body. I felt like I have be hit by a car. When my body hit the ground it was very violent, like it was on sand part, I don’t cut my skin but I moved lot of my bones.
The first night was horrible, and I get very worried. I couldn’t take air normally without hurting a lot. I take aspirin all night. The second day I take aspirine to race and I was angry with myself to be sure that I race very strong but… I was broken for a couple of weeks after this week-end because two of my ribs were out of in my place in my back and it was 3 days before I could see a Chiropractor. So when I raced on Sunday everything was hurting.
After that, I promised myself to not take risks for any reasons for the futures races. My health is more important that race.
You went on to sprint it out with Meredith Miller and took 5th place, anything you want to tell us about that race?
At this moment, I had no idea who was Meredith Miller. I never involved with cyclocross before. So, I just raced and tried to be the best I can. I really tried to beat her for the sprint but she was very powerful. Now I like to race with Meredith because she is fast and also she is great for the sport. I think the level is really high in USA for women, and it’s a great training to race here.
How does racing in the US differ from your experience in Europe?
It’s kind of hard to compare cyclocross races because I have race more in USA than in Europe!
What I know is for France… And it’s kind of sad in France. France is country of Tour de France and it’s story of business… Media doesn’t support women’s racing or women’s sport in general because there is not very much money. But it is not NO money, which is unfair because when a sponsor gives money for women – finally this money goes to help the men racers instead. I have see this many times in France.
Also, people in Club or team are often old men, who live again in the 1960’s and don’t understand that women can be great racers!!!!! Sometime I just feel like this is all a dream.
I like race in USA because people personally respect each other and respect ”the sport.” Which is just as important as being the strongest. When you fight to win, you fight for your sport. It’s really more close to how I grew up. It’s also why I like ride for Rapha, it’s a very modern company with new idea about cycling, women or men, you ride because it’s your passion and we can respect each other for that.
We have really enjoyed watching you race this year! And congratulations on the SSCXWC tittle! What are your goals for this year? What other big races do you have planned?
Thank a lot! I’m glad to have raced here!
My goal this year is go to World championship, so have selection for that, and finish in top 8.
Since our chat with Julie this is what she has been up to…
26 december: World cup belgium ZOLDER (20th place)
30 décember: GP belgium LEUVEN C1 (11th)
1st january: PETANGE luxembourg C2 (2nd)
8 january: French national championship (8th place starting from the back of the field!)
15 january: world cup france LIEVIN
22 janvier: world cup belgium HOOGERHEIDEI
Photos Courtesy of Jeremy Dunn and Rapha/Focus
Article by Sarai Snyder – Boulder, CO – Girl with bike on a mission.