The last time VeloVeritas spoke to Douglas Dewey was at the British National Time Trial Championships in Scotland back in June where he finished fourth.
But it wasn’t all places of honour for the Surrey man; there were six good wins in France, too.
And some UK wins as well – but ‘they don’t count.’
The six wins obviously counted with French Division One team, Union Cycliste Nantes Atlantique, his équipe for season 2014.
The club was founded in 1909 and since then has won two European, 27 National, 109 Regional and 93 Area Championships.
Previous riders from recent times include solid French pros Franck Renier, Pascal Derame and Lilian Jegou as well as six day star turned commentator, Australian Scott McGrory.
We spoke to Douglas as he enjoyed some down time in France before he returns to the UK for the winter and buckles down to the hours on the bike and in the gym that he’ll need to win in the cut and thrust of the top level French amateur classics.
Congratulations on the team place, Douglas – remind us of your 2013 palmarès, please.
“I had six wins in France – some in England too, but I don’t really count them – I won a two-day tour, a couple of one day races and a couple of stages in other stage races, so I was happy there was a good mix.”
The highlight of 2013?
“My win in the two Fléche d’Armor stage race – I had to defend the jersey against attacking riding by some pretty good guys – that was cool to win overall.”
And the low point?
“I had a few dodgy moments; the worst was when I injured my heel – initially I didn’t really know what was wrong or how to sort it out.
“But overall I was pretty lucky during the season; I had very few crashes, for example.”
Are you happy with progress, this year?
“I came over at the start of the year with the twin goals of winning races and making it into a Division One team – and I’ve achieved both.
“I still have a lot to learn; I need to be better on longer climbs and I need have a better grip of race tactics – but that’s something which is on-going through your career.”
Why move from Hennebont Cycling?
“There are so many reasons.
“The calendar is better with Nantes, it’s an Elite team which competes in the Coupe de France and UCI stage races and it’s much more professionally run.
“They’re so well organised in terms of bikes and kit and the club has been around since 1909 so there’s a wealth of history.
“The club house is full of jerseys, trophies and pictures of the club’s riders who have gone professional.
“There’s a team doctor and everything you’d expect from a well run, professional set organisation.”
How far is Nantes from Hennebont?
“About 150 kilometres, so not a million miles.
“My programme with Hennebont centred around Brittany but with Nantes it’ll be much wider spread; there’ll still be races in Brittany but also the South, East and around Paris.
“The team isn’t registered as Continental but it’s at least at that level, riding the best races there are in France.
“It’s not officially a ‘feeder’ team for any of the pro squads, but you know what it’s like, all of the DS know each other…”
When do you head over?
“In November there’s a meet up then there’s a training camp in January and another at the start of February with the first race on the 10th of the month – so it’s an early start for me.”
Is it a good deal for you?
“I get my bikes and all the clothing plus there’s good accommodation.
“I don’t get win bonuses like I did at Hennebont – but I only got those because they didn’t think I’d win anything!
What are the initial impressions of the new team?
“As I said, it’s very impressive when you go into the team house – there’s so much memorabilia.
“Pascal Derame is the DS, he rode for Gan, US Postal and Bonjour; there are pictures of him in his pro strip on the all, he’s like; ‘yeah, that was me in the 1997 Tour.’
“I was impressed by the fact that after my meeting with them I received an email confirming what we’d discussed and outlining my calendar – it was very professional.
“That was one of the problems at Hennebont, you never knew what you were riding until the last moment – it’s hard to prepare for specific races when it’s like that.
“The other thing is that Nantes realise you can’t be winning all the time – at Hennebont it was like; ‘why didn’t you win?’
“But you might be coming back from injury or tired after a big training block…”
How’s the lingo?
“Much better – I can get by now and I’ve made a few friends here.”
What do you like about France?
“The style of racing, the relaxed lifestyle – and it’s an amazing country with so much beautiful scenery, the beaches, the history, the culture.
“I’m having a little bit of a holiday with my sister at the moment, swanning around chateaus and drinking red wine!”
And the negs?
“The driving is definitely dodgy and you mustn’t forget to go shopping on a Saturday because everywhere is closed on a Sunday.
“I could easily see myself staying here once my race career is finished.”
France or Belgium?
“I know that you VeloVeritas guys and Viktor are men of the hard North – the Belgian Classic and all that and you think France is a bit airy, fairy but I love the fact that it’s so chilled.
“And the women are just amazing. [That’s hard to argue with, ed.]
“And besides, the Flemish language was such a struggle for me.”
What does the winter hold for you?
“I have loads of ideas for thing I’d like to do to improve – more gym work is one thing.
“I’m going to relax in the UK for a little while and then have a meet over a curry with my coach, Jon Sharples and get ‘the plan’ together, we’ll be trying to find those one percents…
“Then it’ll be time to get my head down; apart from the training camps with the team I plan to spend some time warm weather training in Tenerife – that worked well for me last winter.”
The goals for 2014?
“I want to win an Elite level race and prove that I can work for a team – proving that you can do the job is very important if you want to ride as a professional.
“And I want to become fluent in French.”
And last word – on Chris Horner winning the Vuelta?