Despite breaking his collarbone at the beginning of 2009, David Veilleux of the Kelly Benefit Strategies squad had a great season on his last year as a U23 rider. He won the the U23 Canadian Time Trial National Championships for the fourth time, soloed to victory at the Presbyterian Invitational in Charlotte and won the sprint competition at the Tour of Utah.
His goals for this year are set, they include the Amgen Tour of California, followed by the Philadelphia International Championship, the Canadian National Championships and the two Pro Tour races held in Quebec. But the future is a bit murkier.
“I don’t know.” replied the 22-year old when asked where he sees himself in three to five years.
“I think that a lot will be at play this year. With the quality of the races that we’re doing, I’ll see how the year unfolds and after that I will make a decision. Either I go for it one hundred percent, I’d like to go to the London Olympics in 2012. To be able to do that I have to increase the competition level to be selected. Or I bring school to the front burner.”
Veilleux is studying for his Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering at L’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal.
“There will be a lot of changes but I will wait and see what happens.” he continued. “I hope to have a good season, do my best and after that, make a decision on what I want to do. I always sacrificed both a bit, but I think I’ll see at the end of the year.”
He feels that he would have to race in Europe in order to be selected for the Summer Olympic Games. “It doesn’t mean that I will leave the team at the end of the year, if the team becomes Pro Continental…. I don’t know, we’ll see how it unfolds. Nothing is decided.”
The combination of school and racing has impacted his graduation date for a typically four-year degree.
“It took me a year and a half to do the first year. Right now, I’m going on a six year, that is without stopping. I don’t know, I will see how it goes.” said Veilleux who is currently only taking 2 classes. “Last semester, I had five, I had a lot to do with missing three weeks because of the World Championships and the Tour of Missouri, that put a lot of pressure on the final exams but it came out fine.”
“I prefer to continue slowly, it’s interesting.” said Veilleux about school. “Of course, if I had doubts I would have stopped school years ago. Sometimes, it’s difficult but when I am at school, I’m happy to be there, I like what I’m doing and that’s a good sign.”
“Many things” helped Veilleux decide to stay with the Kelly Benefit Strategies for a third year.
“First, it’s the team. All the guys on the team get along very well, we’re like a big family. It’s the way we race, we never have any problems. I don’t hesitate to sacrifice for the others and vice versa. If it’s another that has better form, the whole team will work for him and sometimes, that will be me.”
His second reason is management, starting with Performance Director Jonas Carney. “Then, Jonas is really an excellent directeur, that means a lot. The way he sees the races, he’s really able to motivate us for a common goal, to guide us in race tactics. And the way the team is well managed.”
“Sincerely I think that it’s the best team [in the US], we may not have the biggest name or the biggest riders but I think that generally we have more depth and that is why we get results. We all race aggressively, I really like that.”
A time trialer with a kick and a penchant for late race attacks. While he may have won races in sprint finishes such as Superweek’s Great Downer Avenue, Veilleux sees himself as all rounder.
“I don’t consider myself a pure sprinter, I’m a bit everything.” smiled Veilleux.
“I am more a breakaway rider like in Charlotte. On the other hand, I can handle myself well if a 40-rider group makes it to the finish. I can lead out Candelario or Bell. I think it’s more advantageous to put me in the train because of my time trialing ability which lets me put the guys in good position.”
He’s always enjoyed to race against the clock. “It’s always been an event that I’ve liked even when I was young. When I started as a junior, I wasn’t good at it but I liked it.” he added with a laugh. “It’s the type of effort that benefits me. It’s good because you one hundred percent make the race, there are no external factors.”
Off to a good start. With an eye on growth, the team expanded its international racing schedule right from the start of the season.
“It’s something I haven’t done before, typically I do only one trip to Europe. It’s going to be good, I’m really happy to have our start of the season and the direction the team is taking by going international instead of only racing in the United States. Personally, I think it’s to my benefit.”
“Two years ago I started my season with San Dimas and Redlands and it wasn’t easy,” laughed Veilleux, “because everyone else has form acquired at the Tour of California. I think that it’s good to have a stage race with stages of 3 to 4 hours. There is no pressure, Jonas doesn’t put any on us.”
Veilleux started off the season with second place overall at the Tour of Luzon in the Philippines. After a short rest back in Montreal, he’ll be off to the Tour of Uruguay, and then France all in preparation for his first major goal in California.
“I think once we’re in France, I think that everyone will have a good level. It allows us to put in more difficult efforts in the European races which will bring a higher level of fitness for the Tour of California.”
His first major goal is “to do well” at the Tour of California, assuming the team is invited. It would be Veilleux first participation at the race.
“Maybe a podium at a stage in California. There are many climbs, I don’t think that there will be a lot of bunch sprints. “
With his 23rd birthday only coming in November, Veilleux will also be in the running for the Best Young Rider classification.
Using the fitness acquired in California, the Philly race is the next objective. “Philly could be to my advantage if it’s a difficult race, if it ends in a small group because it’s often a group of 10 to 15 which sprints, in that type of final I can position myself well, I think that’s a race for me.”
Then the Canadian Championships, both road and time trial, at the end of June. After a rest, it will be time to prepare for his next goal, the two Pro Tour races held in Quebec in early September.
“I’ve never raced at that level, I don’t think that I can win at that level.” said Veilleux who would like to place top 15.
As only Pro Tour and Pro Continental teams can be invited to Pro Tour races, Veilleux hopes to race with the Canadian National team.
“That will be important, the chance that I will do the race are pretty good and I will try to do my best to get a result, I want to see what will happen. Those are important races, on courses that I’ve been doing for ever, I’m pretty happy with those two races.”
Let’s see how the year unfolds for Veilleux.