Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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Douglas Dewey – “Racing in Brittany is an Art Form”

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It was good to see Douglas Dewey getting a piece in Cycling Weekly the other week; albeit VeloVeritas first interviewed him more than a year ago when he won the opening Classic of the Flanders amateur season, Gent-Staden.

But he’s left the kassein and bergs behind for the Atlantic wind, rain and endless hills of Brittany – and the Hennebont Cyclisme squad.

There are less frîtes, but the galettes are nice; rough pancakes with cheese, ham or honey – and so is the Pelforth Brun.

But I digress – Douglas first pops on to the palmarès websites with a stage win and third on GC in the Totnes-Vire stage race in England in 2009.

The following season saw him third in the British U23 Time Trial Championship; a race which he would go on to win in 2011, along with the GC of the Totnes-Vire – not to mention wins in Belgium, notably Langemark-Madonna.

Last season saw him runner-up to Alex Dowsett in the British Elite Time Trial Championship, finish third in the British Elite Pursuit Championships and post numerous strong results in the Flatlands – most notably, Gent-Staden.

Dewey has hit the ground running in France, with wins in the 138 kilometre/198 starters Etoille De Tressignaux – and you have to check out their website, the accordion music is cool – a stage win plus the GC in the two day Fleche d’Armor and a stage win and spell in yellow in the Tour de Lesneven.

We caught up with Douglas on a trip back to Blighty to have a minor injury checked out.

Douglas Dewey
Douglas in the race lead in Fleche d’Armor.
Photo©Point De Vue Objectif / Tiphanie Delory.

Some nice results, Douglas.

“The past month or so has been awesome, yes; I got my first win in the Etoille De Tressignaux then I won the Fleche d’Armor stage race.

“The first day was flat and one for the sprinters; then on Sunday there was a 7.5 kilometre time trial in the morning – which I won by 11 seconds – and a 120 K road stage in the afternoon.

“At around 80 K on the second big climb it split to pieces with all of the top ten at the front and turned into a bit of a ‘smash fest.’

“My team mate Sam Allen was there though – and worked really hard for me, he’s a really good ally to have. Two riders got away with 12 K to go and one of them was the guy who was second on GC but we kept the gap under control and I won overall by five seconds.

“Then I won the opening hilly stage of the Tour de Lesneven and took the jersey.

“Our team finished second in the Stage Two team time trial but we put time into my overall rivals.

“Stage Three was another rolling day with more wind. Unfortunately I made a mistake and got caught out at the back on a day when a lot of tired bodies weren’t working brilliantly. The split rode off early on in the day and with it so did my hopes for another tour win.”

Sometimes it’s hard to be a foreign leader on a French team…

“Now that they know me more I think that they like me more – they weren’t the most receptive at the start.

“It’s great having Sam here, he’s my strongest team mate – we actually knew each other before when we worked in the same Halfords.”

Douglas Dewey
Winning the Etoille De Tressignaux was a great start in France for Douglas. Photo©Adeline Roué.

I believe that Sean Yates was involved in getting you on board Hennebont?

“Yes, I’ve had a lot of help from Sean – not just in getting a club but in how to deal with living in France.

“John Sharples at TrainSharp has been a big help to me, too.”

How is the team?

“It’s OK, but we’re still waiting on our team bikes, I’m just glad I brought a bike with me.

“We’ve also still to get a team house organised; at the moment Sam and I live in a shared house with other folks – it’s not a pure, ‘cycling house.’

“It’s a shared kitchen and we do our own cooking – so that keeps our diet under our own control.”

The terrain in Brittany is pretty tough.

“They’re my kind of training routes, rolling, decent climbs but not super steep.

“It’s awesome country to train in with the forests and seas side roads.

“I train with Sam but do quite a lot on my own – but because we’re racing so regularly there are a lot of recovery rides involved.”

Brittany used to a favourite area for British cyclists.

“There are three British riders with UCLS which is another team in Hennebont.

“But apart from Sam, all of my team mates are French – but it’s good to immerse yourself in the culture and learn the language.”

What’s the biggest difference between competing in France from Flanders?

“The style is completely different; in Belgium it’s the aggression and constant attacking which makes the selection.

“But in Brittany the hilly terrain makes the selections; it’s less about brute force – more of an art form and less of a ‘smash fest!’”

Douglas Dewey
Douglas doesn’t mind immersing himself in the culture.
Photo©Bruno Perrel.

Does Brittany still have the ‘Heartland vibe?’

“Definitely, there are so many teams and many folks on the outside of the sport have friend or relatives who race.

“We were talking to the cleaner the other day and her brother races – and it transpires that Sam and I know him.

“The Bretagne-Seche Environnement team are based close by and the local papers have great coverage; pros, amateurs, women, juniors – I’m building up a great collection of clippings!”

Is there as much racing as there is in Belgium?

“There’s some mid-week – we had one last Wednesday – but not as much as Belgium.

“There are plenty of weekend races – but I believe there’s a bit of a lull in May.”

Who are the big names, locally?

“David Chopin was a stagiaire with Credit Agricole in 2008; he’s a really nice guy but I think he rides more to enjoy it now than with professional aspirations.”

There are always ex-pros racing in Brittany.

“Yeah, there are a number of guys racing here who were professionals – they’re still very good.

“In fact, the guy who won on Sunday was a professional; he’s very good – and cunning!”

Kit?

“I haven’t seen anything to alert my suspicions; but maybe I’m naive?

“But I’m racing at French Elite level and I’m clean so why wouldn’t the others be clean?”

Have you had any ‘sniffs’ from pro squad talent scouts?

“I hope so!

“I’ve had an offer to join another team but I’d see that as a sideways step, if I’m going to move it’ll be to move up. And I’ve been told that a coach from a big team has been talking to my DS . . .

“Having Sean Yates fighting my corner doesn’t do any harm; I have test result and now I’m starting to get race results.

“You can quote test results but it’s palmares that count – you can’t argue with them.

“I’m 24 now but once you pass 25 it’s hard to get a place on a team – although Jack Bauer came from nowhere, got the results and did it.

“I’d really like the chance to ride stagiaire at the end of this season.”

Douglas Dewey

Let’s get to the important stuff – French TV?

“We have a shared TV in the house but I’ve avoided it – the favourite show seems to be the French version of ‘The Voice’ and it’s God awful!”

And have you bought any Johnny Hallyday CD’s yet?

“Who?”

The ‘French Elvis’ – at nearly 70 he’s kinda like Cliff Richard but with more attitude and leather.

“Sounds awful!”

And on that note we said ‘adieu’ to Monsieur Dewey – but we’ll be keeping an eye on his results.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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