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Nico Mattan: interview about his career
By Celine Tytgadt
Date: 12/18/2002
Nico Mattan: interview about his career
On Velo

On Velo-club du net, every week is dedicated to a different rider.  So far, the riders at word were Laszlo Bodrogi, Rik Verbrugghe, Jacky Durand, Aurelien Clerc, Sebastien Joly and Christophe Agnolutto.  Today, we start the last series of special weeks on Velo-Club with two interviews with Nico Mattan about his career and personality and the chat transcripts of Thursday 9PM CET on Nicolas' site.  

Nico Mattan was always asociated with his friend Frank Vandenbroucke and in the beginning of Nico's career, he followed Frank around from team to team.  He was a great helper, but he was capable of more than that.  He proved this in finishing far ahead in the results on many occasions like 3rd in Gent Wevelgem 98 and 5th in the HEW Classic also in 1998.  In 2000, he even crosses the line in Plouay only at ten seconds from Bartoli in second place.  A silver medal opens the road for new possibilites.

But he doesn't only get podium places, he also won some very nice races, especially in 2001: the prologue of Paris-Nice, the 4 Days of De Panne overall, the GP Ouest France and the Giro del Piemonte.  But not only 2001 was a good year for him, also 2002, especially in the Tour de France where he showed himself in two mountain stages.  On the Mont Ventoux and on the Hautacam he showed he can sure climb and this was confirmed in the mountain classification by ending in 5th position.

Nico Mattan at the Tour of Belgium 2002

What's the best and worst thing about being a cyclist?

The best thing is winning big races, like the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, which are the most beautiful races that you can win.  A victory in a road race is of course better than one against the time.

Worst thing....I like everything about my profession, I don't really have one thing that I dislike....Maybe that I have to get up early because I'm always the one to get up and I'm always the last at the table.

What are you most proud of?

What I did last year by being 17th in the world.  It's been a year where you can't really do much better for a rider like me.  Winning GP Plouay and all the other magnificent races, it was a dream!

What has the happiest moment in your career so far?

Winning the 4 Days of De Panne because it was great winning a race in front of my supporters club.

......and your biggest disappointment?

That would probably be my cardiac problems in 1999.  I have hardly raced in '99 and that's very hard because you're always at home and it's very dissapointing.  Otherwise, I haven't been really dissapointed.

Which riders impresses you most for the moment?

Jalabert for hiw career because a cyclist like Armstrong only does about 5 to 6 weeks tot he fullest in a whole year.  On the Belgian side, it's of course Johan Museeuw even though he's not a Tour rider, there aren't many riders with a palmares like his.

Who did you want to be when you were a kid?

With my parents, I was always cheering for Freddy Maertens and I have seen many races where he was participating.  He was a complete rider who won a lot of chronos, sprints, the world championships like Saronni and Hinault.

What would you change about yourself if you could?

Better legs to go faster in the sprints because even if I follow, I can't really place myself.  I wanted to be a sprinter at first and the fact of not being very good in the sprint has often cost me a victory.  Especially in these last years where the races end more and more in sprints, they are more advantaged than others.

Who do want to impress most?

First of all, when I race, I don't race for anyone.  I don't race for the supporters and I mostly ride for myself but it's true than when you go through your region, you are more motivated than when there is a race in France.

How did you become a cyclist?

I always laugh at myself because I say to myself that I'm not sporty, I don't like doing anything else besides the bike.  Before, I was a goal keeper but at 14 years old, I wanted to ride a bike and I never practised any sports beside it.

I started racing at 14 in Meulebeke, but I never won much races.  I have won 6 with the juniors and 9 with the amateurs....I didn't really have talent, I'm more a character one.  I am a cyclist that goes everywhere, who takes UCI points everywhere but doesn't often win.

I have won my first race with the pro's in 1996 at the Tour des Regions Walonnes while I became pro in 1994.

If there would be one person you would thank: who and why?

For my career, you need to have parents to be able to ride a bike.  If they wouldn't have let me go on with my favorite sport, I wouldn't have become a cyclist.  Further more, there is family, my wife and my kids who motivated me.  I don't really see anyone I could thank beside my parents and my wife.

Under which conditions do you feel strongest?

I've never had problesm with any weather conditions.  I like riding in the rain when it's not too hot.  I always have good legs when it's cold and it rains, it doesn't botter me at all.  I also like when there is a lot of wind.

If you could redo your life, what would you change?

Everything I have done in my life, I don't regret it.  I wouldn't change a thing and my career is fine like it is.

Check in tomorrow for the second part of the interview where he talks about his personal life!

Keep on coming back as well for the chat transcript later this week and be sure to visit Nicolas' site !


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