Aude Biannic helped Emma Norsgaard to stage win and the overall win at Festival Elsy Jabobs

Unsung Heroes: Aude Biannic

When Emma Norsgaard wins, her Movistar teammate Aude Biannic has often played a part in that success.

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‘Unsung Heroes’ is a series in which we pay tribute to riders who don’t often get the recognition they deserve. The domestiques that spend race after race riding in the service of their teammates, often playing an invaluable role that’s hard to see from the outside. In this edition of Unsung Heroes, Amy Jones tells the story of French domestique Aude Biannic, a key support rider for Danish sprinter Emma Norsgaard.

Movistar’s women’s team has had something of a two-pronged approach to leadership after picking up Annemiek van Vleuten at the end of 2020. While the veteran Dutch rider has focused on cleaning up on the climbs, the talented young Danish sprinter, Emma Norsgaard, has gone head-to-head with the likes of Lorena Wiebes in fast finishes as well as taking an impressive sixth place at the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix. 

As Norsgaard explains, her French teammate Aude Biannic has played an invaluable role in her success. 

Biannic, 30, has been riding for Movistar since 2018 –  a season in which she became French national champion, won the prologue at that year’s Lotto Belgium Tour, and finished second overall in the same race.

These days, Biannic rarely goes for her own results which, says Norsgaard, is through her own volition. “Aude is especially a really good and strong rider that is always behind the shadow and never gets success herself, but just loves to help out,” she says. “We had one race where we were supposed to go for her and she was like, ‘no we cannot go for me’ and she’s probably the strongest we have on the team in this race. And it’s just funny how she reacted to suddenly being in the leader position, she was like, ‘no I’m not going to do this well, we just go for you.’

“I think she’s probably one of the strongest riders we have in the peloton. But she never gets the big success so I think often people forget her a little bit.”

As well as supporting her on the bike, Norsgaard says that Biannic is “there for me always.”

“I had a bit of a rough time after the Olympics where it was just really hard for me, the disappointment,” she recalls. “And I remember I was talking to her about it and she’s always so calm and always super nice to talk with and she said, ‘It’s just a bike race Emma. It doesn’t define you as a person and the whole team likes you so don’t worry.’

“It’s so simple of her to say but I feel like it was just the right thing to say in the moment. She’s also really good to calm me down in stressful moments in the races, and outside of the race. She’s just so nice to be around, so calm and a really good person.” 

The two riders have bonded throughout the season both on and off the bike, says Norsgaard. “We did 99% of the races together. So she’s really special to me and we became really good friends this year and what she does for me is amazing; all my teammates are amazing.” 

Indeed, the 22 year-old was keen to credit the rest of her Movistar teammates for their hard work in a season that saw her achieve six individual wins. “All my teammates are like this, totally sacrificing themselves every race,” Norsgaard says.  

Norsgaard won the opening stage of the 2021 Internationale Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour and went on to take third overall. She recalls the effort her teammates went to in order to deliver her to the line where she out-sprinted Lucinda Brand and Lotte Kopecky. “I remember at Thuringen, the first stage where we were actually a bit behind, there was a breakaway and my teammates were working so hard the whole day,” she says. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. When I won the stage, they were even more happy than I was.

“This is what makes it so special, that maybe they could have won themselves, or they could have made a nice result themselves, but they just totally give this up to make a victory for the team, and for me. It’s incredible to watch them.

“I was almost crying when I won, because I felt like it was for them and this feeling is really special.”

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