ROUBAIX, France (VN) — David Veilleux (Europcar) made the most of his Paris-Roubaix debut with an impressive top-25 finish after riding in the day’s main breakaway in Sunday’s battle across the cobbles.
The Canadian powered into the break and then helped Europcar teammate David Gaudin. In his first season racing in Europe, Veilleux said he’s satisfied after surviving the test of Roubaix.
“It was amazing to have the chance to race Roubaix across those sectors the first time in the front, with all the crowds. I was just riding in the break, we were trying to go as far as we could. I was pretty excited to be at the front on the Arenberg, because I heard back in the bunch, it’s crazy, with a full-on sprint. We could do it at our own speed. And when we got caught, I just tried to stay there and stay as long as I could,” Veilleux told VeloNews. “It’s my first year in Europe. It’s a big difference with the U.S. with the distances. Last year I rode just a few races of 200km. Now all I do is 200km and over. At 230km, I was still pretty good, but in the last 20-30km, I was really on the reserves. I decided to go really, really deep. I really went into the reserves to stay out there. I am pretty excited to make it here.”
Veilleux collapsed on the grass at the velodrome after the hard effort. Gaudin rode in ahead of him, with a top-10 in the offing, settling on 16th. Veilleux crossed for 25th at 3:45 back as the top North American at Roubaix.
“I wanted to thank all the mechanics and the assistance. I didn’t have any mechanical problems. For a first Roubaix, I’ve heard stories about how people break everything. Our staff was amazing, no flats, nothing broken. I never missed anything like food or water. On a day like this, the job of my team is just exceptional,” he said. “My teammate crossed on his own. He was really struggling and then I gave him my food and bottles. It was a good day for us. I was just excited to be starting the race. And to be in the front like this, it’s unbelievable. I am extremely thankful to have the opportunity to do that.”
Veilleux has been busy in his first season in Europe, capped by victory at La Roue Tourangelle on March 20 in France. The French-speaking Canadian has been a key part of Europcar’s classics program and has raced a full schedule since Het Nieuwsblad in late February. He has two more races before a well-deserved break.
“I’ve been doing all the spring classics. I have two more races – Brabantse Pijl and GP Denain — then I have four weeks off to recover from all the stress and all the abuse to my body,” he said. “I am very satisfied about this spring. I have never felt super, super good, but today I had good legs and I am happy about that.”
After his break, will return to Nantes in western France where Veilleux has settled in near the team’s base of operations. He will race in more French events and the Tour of Luxembourg, before returning home for the Canadian national championships. Then it’s back to Europe for some summer racing in July and August before crossing the Atlantic again to compete in the Canadian races in September.
Veilleux said he’s been soaking it all in over in Europe and trying to make the most of his opportunity. After knocking around the North American circuit, Veilleux got some help from his coach. It was thanks to an article in a French cycling magazine that helped open the door to join Europcar as the team’s lone North American.
“I got the phone number of the manager. There was an article in Velo magazine, about my coach. He’s French, he’s been working in Canada. When he called, (Jean Rene) Bernaudeau, he knew about my coach, he had no clue about me. I got lucky to be on the team. They gave me a chance,” he said. “I am happy to be here. They were kind of restructuring everything and they found a new sponsor and they wanted another guy for a classics. I’m happy today, but I am glad it’s over!”