April 12, 2011 – Pedal caught up with David Veilleux (Europcar) following his 25th place finish at Paris-Roubaix, his first major classic race. The 258km one-day pro bicycle competition, one of the monuments of cycling, is famous for its brutal cobblestone sections. Veilleux talks about how he initially just wanted to be in the break, but then found himself riding alongside race favourite, Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Leopard Trek.
Veilleux, who turns 24 this November, first rode to national prominence with his win at the 2005 junior stage race, the Tour de l’Abitibi. He holds many Canadian U23 road and ITT titles between 2006 and 2009. His early career around Quebec City was associated with Louis Garneau and Jean Yves Labonté as coaches. He rode for Garneau Crocs, Jittery Joe’s Cycling Team, and Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Pro Cycling Team (KBS) before signing with his first WorldTour squad, French-based Europcar, for the 2011 season.
How do you feel now after your first Paris-Roubaix – will you be celebrating?
David Veilleux: I feel exhausted but very happy about my ride Sunday. I have blisters on my hands and my arms are a bit sore. After the race I just relaxed and enjoyed a nice meal with some of the team’s assistants and my friends from Garneau.
Is the ‘Queen of the Classics’ [Paris-Roubaix] as rough as they say? What was the most difficult part?
DV: I few days prior to the race, we did a recon of some sections. We previewed the Arenberg Forest, which is one of the roughest parts, and I thought it was hard, but not too bad. But during the race, it’s much harder because you get there after 170km of racing and you start being tired. As you get closer to the end, the cobbles just get harder and for the few last sections, I was riding on the dirt on the side because I couldn’t ride on the cobbles.
Did the race unfold as you expected…?
DV: At first, when I got in the break, I was just hoping to do as many sections that we could before getting caught by the pack. We held a steady pace and we were fortunate to be able to ride the Arenberg Forest ahead of the field. After that, I was surprised to see myself in the Cancellara group toward the end of the race.
Did you exceed your expectations at Paris-Roubaix?
DV: My goal was to try to get in the break and then try to finish the race. It finally ended going better than expected because I was able to get through a lot of sections in the breakaway and still be able to finish 25th.
With your strong showing some media suggested that you might be the next big revelation. How do you feel about that?
DV: I wasn’t aware of that. Yesterday I felt really good and I think the race suits me. But I was also lucky to be in the break to avoid the carnage in the field. As to being the next big revelation, I think I’ll have to back that result up with more good performances in the coming months.
You’re 23 years old and fairly young to do so well in a major classic. How have things progressed since your win at the 2005 Tour de l’Abitibi?
DV: Over the years, I have always been serious in my work and my progression as always been steady every year. I just hope to continue working the same way and keep progressing.
Did you do any special preparation for the race?
DV: Nothing special, but all the semi-classics I did in Belgium were excellent preparation for the race.
Did your teammates with Europcar continue with your nickname ‘carcajou’ [wolverine] as they did at Kelly Benefit Strategies?
DV: No, they chose another nickname – ‘Le caribou’.
Did you meet up or talk to the other Canadians Michael Barry and Dom Rollin racing at Paris Roubaix?
DV: No… (note: there were 197 starters at Paris-Roubaix)
What’s next on your agenda, and when will we see you again in Canada?
DV: Flèche Brabançonne, Denain, Tour de Picardie, Tour de Lorraine, GP Aulne, Tour du Luxembourg then I head back home for a couple weeks before Nationals.
Good luck… we’re cheering for you!