Friday Feature EXCLUSIVE: Up close & personal with Geoffroy Lequatre (part 2)

Well, here we are again on the sofa at VeloVoices Towers chatting to Geoffroy Lequatre over an espresso or two. In part one of our interview we talked about Geoffroy’s love of design and his G4 Dimension high-performance clothing range, the highlights of his two years at Team RadioShack and how he coped with and came back from serious injuries.

Today we’re turning our attention to Geoffroy’s hopes for the forthcoming season, his new team Bretagne-Schuller, and some ideas he has for reforming the UCI World Tour points system. Pat McQuaid, please take note.

Sheree: You seem to have a particular fondness for Paris-Tours. Why is that?

Geo: Yes, it’s true. It’s my favourite race and one I always perform well in every year since I first raced in it. It has a special place in my heart for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s in my home region and I know every inch of the roads.
  2. I have the right physical qualities to do well in the race and I’ve grown up riding on these roads. So it’s to be expected that I ride strongly. It’s like [Tom] Boonen in the Flandrian races or [Philippe] Gilbert in the Ardennes.
  3. Each time I ride it and get closer to a win, I love it more and more.

With Paris-Tours, it’s easy to perform when you’re motivated and in good shape because, at that time of year, more than 80% of the peloton are thinking about holidays!

I think Geoffroy’s underselling himself. It’s still a very competitive race and one any rider would love to have on his palmares. Everyone here at VV will be rooting for Geoffroy in this year’s race.

Sheree: This year you’re riding for Pro-Continental squad Bretagne-Schuller. What will be your role on the team? Are you already acquainted with any of the team or members of staff?

Geo: I’m coming into this team with different ambitions. I want to win races again and show I can be a leader in some of the races. I’ll also have another important role, acting as captain of a young team. I think I now have enough experience to motivate and direct the team on the road. It helps that I know most of the team and staff from our days together riding with Agritubel.

Image courtesy of Agritubel

Many of our readers will remember Geoffroy as the winner of the 2008 Tour of Britain, having seized the yellow jersey in stage four. He also competed in the 2009 edition and took part in Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2007.

Sheree: Do you have fond memories of your visits to the UK and can we expect to see you line up for Bretagne-Schuller in 2012’s Tour of Great Britain?

Geo: Oh yes, I feel good in the UK. It’s strange but I like this country and London is one of my favourite towns – so nice, so trendy, so fashionable. I love that it’s a melting pot.

This victory was one of the best memories of my career, the first victory after my serious crash. I was super motivated to win it again and was hoping to return with RadioShack but we were unable to take part and I was sad to miss this great event. Cycling is growing fast in UK, what with The Tour of Britain, Team Sky and so many strong British athletes. So, for sure, I hope I can again compete in the Tour of Britain, this time with Bretagne-Schuller. I’m anticipating being there this year and getting a good result.

Sheree: What other races will we be able to see you in this year and where in particular are you hoping to shine?

Geo: Because Bretagne-Schuller is a Pro-Continental Team, we will ride mainly in France, French Cup, HC races in France [HC =  UCI code for non-WorldTour races – Ed], some ASO races, some Belgian classics, and also the Tour of Turkey. It’s good for the team to ride in other countries, to discover other races and ride with many other riders.

My objective is simply to ride consistently well all year long, particularly in some important races, such as the Criterium International, HC races and, of course, the French Championships, TT and road [Geoffroy was 3rd in the TT in last year’s French Championships – Ed]. Anyway, that’s the plan for the first part of my season.

Sheree: Places on the French squad in an Olympic year will be keenly contested. Do you harbour any Olympic ambitions after last year’s promising results? What about the World Championships in Valkenburg?

Image courtesy of Team RadioShack

Geo: Ah, that’s a good question! I hope I can do really well and prove that I deserve a place on the team for these huge events. Now, we have our French selector [Laurent Jalabert – Ed] who decides the make-up of the team for these races: the Olympics and World Championships. He has the final say and I’m sure he’ll make the right choice.

Geoffroy has an enviably, and I suspect naturally, slim physique. But, nonetheless, I’m still hoping for a few tips.

Sheree: So, how do you maintain your racing weight? What do you eat in a typical day? Are there certain foods you avoid?

Geo: Ahahah! Yes I’m really lucky with my weight; I usually only put on an extra two kilos during the wintertime. There is no one type of food or any typical day. As part of my lifestyle, I eat fresh, organic food and I just try to find a balance between never eating too much and always enjoying a meal. [That must be where we’re going wrong – Ed.]

I eat good quality food, cook without fat and always eat plenty of seasonal vegetables. The most important thing for me, following my 2005 crash when I lost the ability to smell and taste, was to make the food on my plate look colourful and tempting enough to make me want to eat it.

Like a lot of top sportsmen and women, Geoffroy’s talents are not limited to cycling. In his youth, he was a very good tennis player and may still wield a mean forehand.

Sheree: What tipped the scales in favour of cycling? Have the French lost a potential Roland Garros winner?

Geo: No, that’s why I chose cycling over tennis.  I was much better on my bike than on the court! I did both for five years and finally I made my choice: cycling.

Geoffroy has lived on the Cote d’Azur for the past few years and has been generous with his time, his kit and his words of wisdom to some of the region’s young riders, providing them with inspiration and insight into the life of a professional cyclist.

Sheree: Helping young riders to develop, is this something you’d like to be involved with in the future?

Geo: Of course the future [of cycling] rests with young riders, the younger generation. I like to talk to them about what I know, to share my experiences, and I like to see these kids faces light up and to make their eyes sparkle!

When I ride with them, it’s always something special. I feel again what I felt 15 years ago when I first met some pro cyclists! I haven’t forgotten and I never will forget this feeling.

Geoffroy is an articulate advocate for professional cycling and made an interesting suggestion in an interview late last year about some of the issues thrown up by the UCI’s current system of attribution of WorldTour race points.

Sheree: You argued that because cycling is a team sport, the winner’s team mates should also be allocated a percentage of the winner’s points thereby acknowledging their contribution to his success.  Could you elaborate on this?

Geo: Yes, I talked about the new UCI point’s system for the WorldTour, because I don’t think it’s fair. We are a community of riders, we are all doing the same job in the same sport, but there is no real respect for our work. Indeed, like in life, there are differences between us: salary, conditions of work, ranking etcetera. That’s normal in a sport’s hierarchy but it still needs to function well. But what I blame is the lack of regard [from the UCI] for those riders who sacrifice their ambitions and chances all year for the team leaders and the team but get little or no recognition in return. Sadly, the points count more than the qualities of the individual.

So it would help if some of the team leaders and teams showed their appreciation and recognised more openly that each rider is important and has a role to play in building the success and sustainability of the team. Of course, you will always be able to find riders with points. Either you have to pay a lot [in terms of salary] to buy them in or – the cheaper option – bring in riders from the other UCI circuits, Asia or Africa Tour which, of course, is great because it’s internationalization of cycling but they can make it easier and cheaper on themselves.

[As riders] we need serenity to perform and to obtain serenity is simple.

Share the success, points and money with your team and teammates. That would be the best way to achieve greater recognition of everyone’s role.

“Give generously and the people will give you back more.” It’s just a life lesson – love and gratitude – but too few people think like this. However it’s the key to  success.

Sheree: On that profound note, thank you, Geoffroy, for your time and for sharing your thoughts and ambitions with us. I hope the UCI seriously considers your proposal but you’re correct in saying that it needs the backing of the teams and team managers.

We’ve enjoyed chatting with you and we’ll be keeping a keen eye both on your results and the development of your G4 clothing range.

VeloVoices competition

For a chance to win an item from Geoffroy’s G4 high-performance clothing range, why not enter our exclusive competition here? You could be just one question away from winning a prize worth €149!

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