At the beginning of the year, David Veilleux knew that he had a decision to make this year, or as he said there was “a lot will be at play this year.”
Well he made his decision, the 7-time Canadian National Champion and current Canadian Crit Champion is moving to Europe and joining the French Pro Continental team, Europcar.
“I think I was ready for new challenges, to try out Europe.” Veilleux told podiuminsight last Friday.
After three years of racing with Kelly Benefit and learning from his teammates, it was time to make the jump.
“Definitely,” replied Veilleux when asked if his three years prepared him. “it was great on Kelly with the equipment, my teammates and Jonas Carney’s advice was also excellent so I progressed a lot in those three years.”
While he did race against his future teammates at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, including race winner Thomas Voeckler, it really was the races in Europe earlier this season that sparked the decision.
“It was more the races I did with Kelly, such as the Tour de Poitou and other UCI races in Europe. They showed me a different style of racing, that you don’t find here and I think that style is advantageous for me.” Veilleux commented. “It increased my interest in making the jump.”
While his interest was peaked early on this year, it wasn’t easy to find a team. “Actually I didn’t receive any offers all year, it really happened in September and October, so it was a bit last minute.” he explained. “I tried to get in touch with some teams but it was difficult to show the value of my results.”
Then his coach talked with Europcar Team Manager Jean-René Bernaudeau and once the offer, was made it was time to think. “I had to stop and ask myself ‘okay do I really what to do this or do I want to stay in North America?’. I told myself it was an opportunity that might not happen often so I decided to try it and see how it goes in Europe.”
In parallel were the discussions between Louis Garneau and Europcar. Veilleux’s association with Garneau goes back to when he was fifteen years old. “Once I decided that I wanted to do this, I got in touch with Louis Garneau to see what he was doing. I’m happy that it all works together.”
The decision brings about more changes. He will be moving to Europe, basing himself in les Essarts, France and he also will put his schooling on hold but plans to finish one day. Veilleux was studying for his Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering at L’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal.
Meeting the team. Veilleux had just returned from a quick trip to France for a 3-day camp in Nantes, a chance to meet everyone, take team photos and sign the contract.
“I think that the first impressions were good, the guys are really nice and it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere. There were a couple who asked ‘who is this?’, they didn’t really know but I think that I’ll be able to find my spot as we do training rides and races together.” Veilleux laughed when asked what his new teammates thought of having a ‘petit Québécois’ showing up.
Of course, being both Québécois, we had to talk about accents. Veilleux laughed and said, “I think I’m going to have to work on it, already I have a somewhat pronounced accent, I’m going to have to pay attention to it a bit.”
There were no sense of extra pressure coming through when talking with the 23-year old. He sounded calm and confident.
“Maybe it’s because of the riders, guys like Thomas Voeckler, who is not pretentious. When you arrive in a team like that where everyone is on the same level, it goes a bit better and you have less pressure.” he then added. “Maybe it will come during the training rides or in the first races but not for now.”
As far as goals for this year, well Veilleux won’t set any racing goals except to learn and to get used to the rhythm of races.
“It’s really difficult to put down a goal. In the States, I knew all the races so I knew which ones were well suited for me, which ones I could do well at. But here it’s difficult, I don’t really know any race so I’m going to see how it goes at the start of the season, see what role I find on the team and from that I’ll be able to better see my goal.” he explained.
No goals in Europe but definitely a goal for the Canadian Championships at the end of June.
“The only goal for now that I give myself is to be ready for the Canadian Championships, I’m going to put more time in on my time trial training to go for a podium placing. It’s going to be tougher in the road race, I’m going to be on my own, with a target on my back but I’ll still try to do something but the time-trial because I don’t need teammates there.”
Another change is that he now needs to start his training earlier. “I think my coach is confident so I’m going to trust him, it’s easy to get carried away and to do too much.” The two training camps with the team in Spain will give him the base miles and then racing. “Races either Tour du Gabon or the Tour de Langkawau, with races like that I should be okay. “
Veilleux is often put in a sprinter category while racing in North America, but he sees himself more as “a bit of everything.” He is a good time trialer, with a few National title under his belt in the race against the clock but also has a kick and a penchant for late race attacks. And he likes racing in bad weather. While his racing calendar is unknown at this point, he should be part of the team to take on the Classics and I for one can’t wait to see how he does on the cobbles.
The next weeks will be busy for Veilleux. After one final exam on December 9, he flies off to Spain for a first training camp with the team from December 10 to 17 followed by more finals on December 20 & 21. He’s off to Florida for the Holidays with his girlfriend and family which will give him “a chance to ride a bit”. A second training camp with the team in Spain is scheduled for January 6.