|As several of you may already know, the excellent Belgian site "Velo-club du Net", dedicates each week to a different rider, with profiles, special interviews and, every Thursday night (CET) an interesting chat with the man himself. After Laszlo Bodrogi, Rik Verbrugghe, Jacky Durand and others, this week was Aurelien Clerc's time.
The excellent sprinter of the Mapei Espoirs squad, winner of several races all through the 2002 season, and moving to Belgium's Quickstep-Davitamon new team, was interviewed earlier in the week (interviews available by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page), and now here's a transcript of chat that involved him nd several fans yesterday.
(VC = Velo-Club Chatters, AC = Aurelién Clerc)
VC: Which skills of yours you'd like to improve in 2003 ?
AC: My climbing skills first, but I wish I could get better even in things I'm already quite good at, like sprinting
VC: Which are the best and worst memories so far in your racing career ?
AC: The worst one was my abandon at Tour of Romandy (Clerc's "home race" btw), the best my Tour de Picardie win.
VC: Which way do you usually train during the winter break ?
AC: I resumed training last monday. In this period I'm riding, but also running and skiing
VC: Are you going to race the Tour of Romandy next year ?
AC: I don't think so. And I guess Quick Step wouldn't take part in the contest either.
VC: Tell us about your main targets for 2003
AC: I don't know the plans yet, but I suppose they should be the early season races, as well as doing something good at the Tour de France. We'll talk of them during next week's training camp anyway.
VC: How many hours a week are you used to train ?
AC: Quantity changes according to the season. In the summer I usually train for about 35 hours a week, that means some 30,000 km. a year,
VC: Are you going to race cyclo-cross this year, or is it something Quick-Step doesn't let you do ?
AC: Actually I do not have the time ... the road season ends in late October at resumes in the second half of January
VC: Who is your favourite sportsman ?
AC: I love each sport, and actually I don't have any favourite sportsman
VC: If you weren't a rider ... ?
AC: I would be a Physical Education Teacher
VC: Who are the riders you admire the most ?
AC: Armstrong and Bettini
VC: Do you think you may represent the future of Swiss cycling, along with Fabien Cancellara ?
AC: I hope so, and I'll do my best
VC: What race are you particularly eager to win ?
VC: Can you tell us anything about the environment at Quick-Step ?
AC: Well, so far I've spent just two days with my new teammates, but I'm looking forward to meet'em at the next training camp
VC: Have either N. Reyanuad or Piotr Wadecki signed with Quickstep for the next season ?
AC: Wadecki did.
VC: Do you think Tom Steels can find back the good condition he has showed in the past ?
AC: I hope so. He's a nice guy, and I'd like to know him better.
VC: Which rider do you get along with the best ?
AC: Laurent Dufaux
VC: Do you train with Daniel Atienza from time to time ?
AC: Yes, he lives four km. far from my girlfriend's town, and I must say that training with him in the climbs is difficult
VC: Do you know Jean Nuttli, and what do you think of his Hour Record attempt ?
AC: I do not know him well. But in my opinion he did the right thing. And he'll be trying again
VC: Are you going to the Tour de France next year ?
AC: I think so, but there's nothing sure yet. We'll have to talk about it.
VC: Which part do you play in Mapei (or Quick-Step) ?
AC: I'm a sprinter
VC: And who are the riders you usually train with when not racing ?
AC: Dufaux, Atienza, (and swiss cyclists) Bourquenoud, Fragniere, Charriere, Moos
VC: How did Mapei riders react to Squinzi's decision (to stop sponsoring the team) ?
AC: Everybody was disappointed, especially as it came after we got so many good results.
VC: Is there any Swiss rider able to win a GT in the near future ?
AC: Sven Montgomery, assuming he founds back his ancient form, and leaves the probs he had this year behind
VC: Do you think you can join Phonak ?
AC: Phonak is a very good team, and a Swiss one too. But I'm happy with my current team.
VC: When will you stop racing, according to your plans ?
AC: I wish I could race until I'm 35.
VC: Do you ride on track too ?
AC: Sure. When it's raining outside !
VC: What would you prefer to win, a big Classic or TdF stage ?
AC: It's a difficult choice, but I think that winning a World Cup Classic would be very nice
VC: What do you think of (Quick Step's Team Manager) Patrick Lefevere's skills ?
AC: I don't know him well yet, but I know he's a great sport director, and I'm happy to work with him.
VC: Do you think Armstrong can win the Tour de France for six times ?
AC: I think he has got many chances
VC: Which are yor hobbies ?
AC: Ski, Sailing, Deep-Sea diving
VC: Have you seen the new team jersey, or the brand new bike you'll be riding ?
AC: I've seen the jersey, colors are blue and grey, and I'll get my brand new bicycle within a week.
VC: Who's the current best sprinter ?
AC: Mario Cipollini
VC: Do you know the Col de l'Aiguillon??
AC: I don't.
VC: When did you start riding ?
AC: At the age of 14
VC: Which will be the place of your first outing in the coming season ?
AC: I'll make my debut at the Tour of Qatar
VC: Do you think young French riders can get to Jaja's level ?
AC: Well, France has definitely got several good riders, including Sylvain Chavanel
VC: What would you say to anybody starting his career as a rider ?
AC: It's not easy to answer such a question. I think he needs to work hard, and always try to improve himself.
VC: You are a sprinter, but which kind of races you'd prefer to win, Classics or Grand Tour Stage ?
AC: I'd like to win stages in multiple-day races, as well as the early season one-day contests.
VC: Who can give Armstrong a run for his money in 2003 ?
AC: Perhaps Botero ...
VC: Last question: Are you going on vacation soon ? And where ?
AC: I was just back from my vacation five days ago, after spending two weeks in the Dominican Republic
Many thanks to Nicolas Richelet, and don't forget to visit his french-speaking site at www.velo-club.net! You can also get access to Clerc's own website (in french) by clicking here