Here at VeloVeritas, we encourage you to submit your race results and stories to us, and young Tom Copeland recently did just that.
20 year old Tom is a second-year espoir, originally from Eastbourne in East Sussex (he calls it the Sunshine Coast!) and is now living and racing in France.
Tom loves to write in his spare time, and will be keeping us up-to-date as his season progresses, so to kick things off, we thought we’d introduce: him to you now…
Why go to France Tom?
“I had the choice of going straight to Bristol Uni in 2008 or having a year abroad giving it a go… living the dream as you often hear!
“I decided ‘why not?’, and was stuck between the choice of Belgium of France.
“Finally I chose France, given a greater range of races available and also given my height and weight – or lack of; I’m not very suited to the standard Belgian crit racing circuit.”
So it’s a bit different from East Sussex?
“Not really, East Sussex is on the south coast and is perfect for training with a choice of long climbs over the Ashdown Forest within an hours ride or abundant flat and rolling country roads perfect for getting lost on a cold winters day.”
How long did you cycle in UK before crossing the Channel?
“I started cycling quite late and only really started racing as a junior at the end of 2005/2006 season.
“Competing in the junior national series races, I gained lots of experience racing with the likes of Edvald Boassen Hagen in my first junior series race. He was already a beast back then!”
Your palmares in UK?
“Several top 10’s in the Junior national series in 2007 with one podium but no wins. I got several local wins in Elite and 1/2/3 races including races from the popular Surrey League and South East Road Race League which provide most of the racing down my way.
“I also tapped out some good TT’s every now and then, obligatory for an English cyclist, including winning the Team prize at both the 10 and 25 mile junior national champs.”
So you: considered Flanders?
“Brittany “crepes” vs. Belgian “frites”… I chose the pancakes!”
Where about are you in France?:
“I am in the Finistère region of Brittany, over on the north west coast of France, well known for its micro-climate of wind and rain rolling off the ocean. But the awesome pancakes make up for all that obviously!”
How long have you been there?
“This is my second season out here; I got hooked and put off my university place for a little longer… sorry mum!
“Last season I was with division 2 club VS Quimper, living with an Aussie, two Poles and a larger-than-life Englishman Dan Smith who can still be found rolling round the premier calendar circuit every now and then.”
Any other Brits or English-speakers close by?
“The Aussie from VSQ last year is still out here but with a different team but we see each other quite a lot at the local races.
“There are also three Brits, Matt Jones, Ali Carr and Nathan Edmundson based over in the other side of Brittany, racing for Fougeres.”
What club do you race for?
“I’m racing for Division 1 Espoir BIC2000 (Brest: Iroise Cyclisme) based in Brest, obviously.
“We have a large varied race calendar including several UCI 2.2 stage races, amateur Coupe de France races and Elite/Continental pro races all over France, with a couple of local chippers thrown in every now and then.”
Is it a good set up? Bike? Clothing? Accom? Bonuses?
“The set up and support is really good, much better than what I had last year.
“The team provide me with pretty much everything apart from putting food on my plate and pedalling for me. You can’t have everything…
“The bike is a ‘Felino’, a well-known French marque… think of how many Treks/Specialized you see in England… Felino is the same here.
“The bonuses are good too especially in the Elite Pro races and 2.2’s where you could buy a nice car after a couple of wins!”
What’s your best result(s)?
“I’ve had two wins this season, one coming in a stage race down south where I took the white jersey for first U23 as well.
“The 2.2’s I’ve done this year are a jump up from what I was doing last year and have been a good learning curve but a result isn’t far off. Next week in the Mi Aout Bretonne…”
How have you taken to the lifestyle?
“The French are so much more relaxed about everything and everyday life than people back in England, making training, for example, much more pleasurable compared to fighting the local drivers for your place on the road back home.”
How’s your French?
“Being the only English rider on the team I’m kind of forced to speak French.
“They seem to understand everything I say in the race briefings and can easily understand the insults in the peloton so I guess I’m fluent!”
What do you do with your free time?
“I’m in the middle of an Open University course which takes up quite a lot of free time, but apart from this and training, I pretty much live on the internet!”
How do you survive, cash-wise?
“I’m currently supported by the John Ibbotson Fund and with a job in the winter everything is covered.”
Lastly Tom – what do you think of French plumbing?
“I haven’t encountered that many ‘old-school’ French toilets (the well known holes in the ground), but sometimes that’s all you can find… just got to hope you’ve got good aim.”
Thanks Tom! Good luck for the upcoming races, and we look forward to presenting your adventures on VeloVeritas!