From Picardy to America: Clément Chevrier
He took up cycling when he was only seven, inspired by his father, but also by Laurent Jalabert, who was one of the best French riders of those years. His name is Clément Chevrier, a cyclist who showed his huge talent since 2010, when he won a stage and finished 5th overall in Tre Bresciana. His results as a Junior convinced Chambéry CF – the official development team of AG2R – to sign him and during the last two years spent there Clément continued to improve.
The best results of his career so far came in 2013: riding for Chambéry and the national team, the young French rider finished second in the Tour des Pays des Savoie (where he also won the “queen stage”) and the Giro della Valle d’Aosta, before riding in the Tour de l’Ain, a 2.1 race in which he impressed once again, by coming home in 16th place, almost opt minutes behind his good friend Romain Bardet, who won the overall.
In the last part of the season, the disappointment of not signing with AG2R was soon forgotten after Clément transferred to Bissell, the US team managed by Axel Merckx. There, he wants to develop further and add some more wins to his CV, but also to make the final step to a World Tour team in 2015.
– Clément, let’s talk in the beginning about the 2013 season. You’ve missed a GC win in the Tour des Pays de Savoie and the Giro della Valle d’Aosta for less than a minute. After these races, did you see the glass half-full or half-empty?
Half-full, definitely! Really, I was happy for these results, because I discovered myself step by step after each stage and each race. Nevertheless, I think I could have had a better result in the GC of the Tour des Pays de Savoie. Lots of things changed the race, as was the train which stopped my group before the last climb in the second stage.
– One of your most impressive results was the win at the top of La Toussuire. How did you feel then?
That was a great day, because it was the most difficult stage and I won it in front of my family and my friends. I prepared myself specially for this stage during my training camp in May. There is a lot of work behind this win.
– Then, in the Summer, you were a solid 16th in the Tour de l’Ain, ahead of many pro riders.
It was my first race with the national team and I had to find my place in the group. Moreover, this race had to be a preparation for the Tour de l’Avenir. Now I can say that I was in the best condition for l’Ain. During the race I was very happy, because it was my first pro race and I rode with cyclists that I watched only on TV! I had also some friends in the peloton and Romain Bardet, the final winner, helped me get a good result by anticipating the race and telling me where I should stay in the peloton. I’ve learned a lot during the Tour de l’Ain and after this result I was very confident for the Tour de l’Avenir. I realised at that moment that I had the level to ride in the professional peloton.
– I know you had some high expectations for the Tour de l’Avenir, but you finished 19th overall. What happened?
I wasn’t in a good physical condition at the Tour de l’Avenir. I was better during l’Ain. I think this was because I had a very busy schedule since June, with Savoie, Val d’Aosta, training camps, and I started the Avenir tired. My program wasn’t perfect, but it was a good experience and now I can prepare myself better thanks to this failure.
– In September, you came 11th in the road race at the World Championships. Were you satisfied with this result or do you believe you could have done better?
Personally, I’m satisfied, because I gave the best of myself. But when it comes to the team, we were a little disappointed, because we wanted to win, and on that day our tactic wasn’t good, whereas the conditions for the team were perfect. The problem was that we started the fight too early during the race.
– Speaking of the World Championships, what do you think of the Ponferrada course?
I got to see the circuit. I think there are no big difficulties, as in Florence last year, but it will be very demanding. With more than 3000 vertical metres of climbing, the U23 race will be very difficult, and the climbers will appreciate that. However, the final is in a descent that comes after the last climb, and it doesn’t allow a solo finish, being more suitable for a sprint from a small peloton. It’s kind of similar to Florence last year, when everyone came behind Matej Mahoric, who was very strong.
– Coming back to 2013, there were some rumours in the Summer about you going pro with AG2R. What happened in the end?
I’m a little disappointed, because when we begin riding for Chambéry CF we want to go pro in the World Tour team at the end of our formation. But in the actual context, I’m very happy for my choice to go to Bissell, because I think that’s a good team for me, for my progress. In my case, I don’t think I have for the moment what it takes to be pro in the World Tour, but I hope Bissell will be a good springboard for it.
– How did you get in touch with Bissell and what made you transfer there?
I’ve sent my CV two days before the World Championships to Axel Merckx hoping to get a positive answer. It was just after the road race when Nathan Brown talked with me and said that Axel was interested in me. Just one day later, I received a call from Axel Merckx. I have contacted one team only. Just Bissell, because I think that for my future, the work of Axel to develop the young riders as me is the best in the world before going to a World Tour team. I really think that it’s the best choice for me. Moreover, I follow this team since 2009 and I dreamed one day to be able to ride for Axel.
– It will be a new experience with the style of racing from there and also the high altitude mountains.
Yes, it’s totally new for me. I’m looking forward to discover the races, the high altitude, the American life, the culture, the team mates. It will be a nice experience!
– What would you like to improve with the help of Bissell?
I want to improve in general, but most specifically in the mountains and stage races. I want to gain a lot of experience and learn many things thanks to the race calendar that I will have, the training camps, the experience of the staff and of my team mates. Then, after this season I hope to race in the World Tour. This my my final goal with Bissell. For it, during the season, I must show on the bike that I have the abilities. Also, I would like to improve my English, because I’m studying again Business and it’s very important to speak this language.
– Do you know your programme? Are there any races you would really like to do?
No, I don’t know my programme for the moment, but I would like to race and be in a good condition for the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge with Bissell. In addition to these races, I would like to ride with my national team the Tour des Pays de Savoie and Tour de l’Avenir.
– What will be your goals for 2014?
In the first part of the season I will try to get a good result in the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23, as I like the Classics and this race is very nice, but very difficult too. After it, I want to be in my best condition for the Tour of California. The level is very high, so I can’t say I have a concrete goal, but I want to give the best of myself for the team. It’s the same thing for Colorado. If I can ride with my national team I would like perform in the Pays de Savoie, l’Avenir and at the World Championships, of course, if I’ll be there.
– One of your dreams is winning the Giro di Lombardia one day. What is it that you like so much about this Classic?
It’s a beautiful race: the roads, the climbs, the tifosi. I like riding in Italy. It’s a different culture and the atmosphere is special. Besides that, the race is very difficult and it suits my climbing abilities. I like a lot the classics and I have a big attraction for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It is so difficult and mythic too!
– And besides that? In what other races you would like to leave your mark over the years?
For 2014, I would like to shine in the Tour de l’Avenir, because it’s the “queen race” in the U23 category. Otherwise, Milan-Sanremo makes me dream, but it’s not suited to my characteristics. And, as all the climbers, I dream of the Tour de France and winning a big mountain stage!