The beauty of the non-World Tour races that take place in the second half of the year is that they give stagiaires the possibility to shine and sign a pro contract for the next season. This was the case with Kevin Ledanois, who rode last August the Arctic Race of Norway, which he finished 6th, just 29 seconds behind the winner, Alexander Kristoff. That result draw the attention of many pro teams, which saw there’s much more to Kevin than the name of Ledanois.
A real talent, which has the potential to become a great all-rounder in the near future, the 21-year-old eventually signed with Pro Continental team Bretagne-Séché Environnement, where he’ll have the perfect environment – one without much pressure – to develop and start scoring some nice results in the races he will do. Having the necessary confidence and ambition to make it as a pro, Kevin Ledanois is sure that his first season will be an important one, despite his young age and lack of experience.
More on this, but also on his big goals for the future, you can find out by reading the following interview he gave to Cafe Roubaix.
– Kevin, you started with football, then switched to cycling. What made you do this?
I played football because all my friends did it when we were young. But when I was 13, I wanted to try the sport that made my father well-known, so I switched to cycling and I loved it from the first day. I think starting cycling later than others helped me, because I wasn’t burned off when it came to increasing the workload I needed in order to progress. I have many friends who stopped cycling because of that, inspite of the fact they were really good and strong.
– How much did it help in your first years to have your father alongside?
At the beginning it was not very important to have the experience of my father, because he let me do what I liked and learn from my mistakes. Then, after I turned 18, he gave me many advices regarding my training and I’m very grateful for all that he did for me.
– Looking back, how do you see your years as a junior and U23 rider?
All my previous teams were important in my development. I joined my first club – Saint Jean de Monts Vendée Cyclisme – when I was 13-years-old and stayed there until I was 17. It was nice there, because they gave me the permission to train alongside my friends, without any kind of pressure. After that, I signed with Team U Nantes Atlantiques as a junior for my last year in this category and for my first two years as an U23. This period was really important, because it was in this team that I’ve discovered the best amateur level and I did my first races with pro riders, during the Tour de Bretagne. My last U23 season was with CC Nogent sur Oise, a famous team in France, which helped many riders – like Brice and Romain Feillu – to become pros. My 2014 year was fantastic until the end, I had a great season and I must thank my team, because it was really incredible.
– Last year you won the Tour du Jura. What meant that victory for you?
The win in the Tour of Jura means that I really have what it takes to be amongst the best riders of my generation and thus do some nice things in cycling. I won the race ahead of riders like Remy Di Gregorio and Mathias Frank, and this was very important for my confidence.
– Besides that, you scored some other impressive results, one of which was the 6th place in the Arctic Race of Norway, after a strong display.
The experience I had in the Arctic Race of Norway was an amazing one. I played a big role in an important race, which was won by Alexander Kristoff, who was coming there after a great Tour de France. Then, when a rider of Thor Hushovd’s caliber came and talked to me, I realized just how big my performance was.
– What was the biggest disappointment of last season?
Without any doubt, the World Championships in Ponferrada. I can’t say that I was the strongest rider in the race, but maybe if I would have attacked later, I think I could have won the rainbow jersey, or at least finish on the podium. I guess we’ll never know what could have happened.
– Being such a versatile rider, do you think of riding all the Monuments in the future?
I have many ambitions for the years to come. I want to learn fast and ride all the big races, from the Tour de France to all the Classics. I have the ambition to do all that, because without ambition you can’t fix a goal. The Classics and the stage races are an important part of my future, I dream of getting many big wins in the next seasons and show what I’m capable of.
– How were the winter training camps with Bretagne-Séché?
The atmosphere in the team is really great. We all get along fine, and this is very important in order to get results. During the training camps, I’ve noticed that the main difference between an amateur and a pro rider is the preparation. When you are an amateur, you can begin the year at 70% or 80% of you capacity, because your objectives come later in the season. When you are professional – and we can see that with cyclists like Valverde, Nibali, or Pinot – you have to be in great from since the beginning of the season.
– And what is your program for the first part of the season?
After the Grand Prix La Marseillaise, I’ll do Trofeo Laigueglia, Classic Sud Ardèche, Drôme Classic, Paris-Troyes, and the Volta a Catalunya. The Spanish race will be my first big goal.