Monday, September 20, 2021
HomeInterviewsJoshua Berry - Not Just "some American"

Joshua Berry – Not Just “some American”

-

Here at VeloVeritas we try to keep our eye out for young men who are ‘doing it’ – getting themselves over to Europe and trying to make the grade. Take 22 year-old American Joshua Berry, it’s a long way from his home town of Ketchum, Idaho to the French Mediterranean coast – but that’s where he’s riding, for La Pomme Marseille.

It’s a famous club, formed in 1974 which has had the likes of Daryl Impey, Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin on the books at one time or another.

The club is now registered as an UCI Continental team and got season 2013 off to a flying start with Justin Jules winning the hotly contested UCI 1.1 GP d’Ouverture Marseille against many of the World Tour teams.

It’s a week or two since we last spoke to Joshua – the Vuelta got in the way – here’s what he had to say.

Joshua Berry
In his first race with the USA Cycling U23 team, Joshua finished third in Liege Bastogne Liege.
Photo©Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

La Pomme, how did you get the ride, Joshua?

“Alex Howes was the first US guy to ride for La Pomme in 2008 – I wanted to follow the same route as he did, learn the craft and the language.

“When I took third in the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year that proved I had the ability.”

How’s the programme been?

“I’ve had an awesome programme for 2013 but I’ve had constant injury stemming from being hit by a truck during the early season of 2010. I was hurt pretty badly and I’ve had constant issues since.

“Last winter past was compromised by injury too, I was at the team training camp but had to fly back to the US for treatment and then I was off to the Tour of Taiwan. I had all sorts of mechanicals there and my knee was giving me problems so I was DNF – that was very frustrating.

“But the team was great with me, very supportive all through it. I almost had my knee sorted out and was on course for a good season, doing my job for the team – but then an injury I sustained when I crashed in 2012 Baby Giro flared up and it looked like the season was going to be a disaster.

“Then I had family issues and had to fly home, but I managed to get my head together and wanted to do well at the Qinghai Lakes. I had ambitions of a good ride there but crashed out on Stage Seven which meant more rehab.

“I wasn’t sure if I could come back from that but rode a mountain bike race in my home town to see how I was going. I was really nervous at the start but won it and went straight out and bought my plane ticket back to France, that day.

“When I think back, I’ve done OK – in five years I’ve gone from being a junior MTB rider to a pro.”

Joshua Berry
Joshua’s career is following a nice trajectory. Photo©Marvin Johnston

What’s your role on the team?

“They gave me a perfect schedule with opportunities for me to take my chances in the breakaways.

“But you have to help the team when you can – taking our sprinters up for the finale, for instance.

“Justin Jules is one of our sprinters and he got us off to a great start by winning the GP d’Ouverture Marseille – that’s a UCI 1.1 and gave us huge momentum to start the season with.

“Benjamin Giraud, Yannick Martinez, Yoann Paillot and Julien Antomarchi have all had wins, too.”

Joshua Berry
Joshua on the podium for the Coup de France GP Somme’s Sprint Prize.

The US of A v. la Belle France?

“It’s very different, but that’s what you come here for – cycling is part of life and the culture; when you’re on a team like la Pomme you’re part of that.

“I was very pleasantly surprised at the team’s attitude when I told them that I had to go home to deal with my family issues.

“They said to go home, sort it out and come back when it was dealt with; my place would still be there – I felt like I wasn’t just ‘some American.’”

Where’s your ‘Euro home?’

“If I’m with the team I stay at the team house in Marseille but between races I rent a place in the little town of Cassis – it’s an unbelievable place.”

We’ve interviewed Chris Jennings in the past; he left Rapha Condor to go to La Pomme.

“Yeah, I’ve trained with Chris a few time; he’s a good guy – but I tend to train on my own, mostly.”

Some say that French racing isn’t as tough as Belgian . . .

“I’d dispute that, perhaps if it’s a sprinters’ day then you can have an easy day.

“But in races like the Tour du Limousin it’s very hard, even when one of the big teams is controlling it.”

I’ve heard that your 2010 crash was a bad one?

“A truck hit me head on and as I said, that crash is the source of my injury problems.

“I feel good now and was happy to make it through Limousin; but I’ve not had a lot of race days.”

You rode alongside Francisco Mancebo at Real Cyclist in 2011 . . .

“He was a great inspiration, a wonderful person to learn from with all of his Grand Tour experience.

“I was only 19/20 years-old and it was a great year for me – the team won a lot of races.

“Francisco never gives up and just loves the sport.”

You were with the Chipotle squad in 2012, but it folded.

“I wanted to be part of the Garmin team ever since the Slipstream days – when I got the offer to join Chipotle as the Garmin ‘feeder’ team, it was huge for me, I had other offers but I wanted to be with Chipotle as it was part of the Garmin organisation.

“Jonathan Vaughters and Chann McRae have had a great influence on me – I’d have loved to have been part of the Garmin programme . . .”

You had a strong Euro 2012 – third in the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“In the spring of 2012 I was going really well but then I got sick and was out for a month but I trained for two weeks in the mountains near Toulouse and started to find some form.

“I was selected for the Tour of Liege and Chann McRae (Chipotle DS) said to me that if I went top 10 then he’s get me on the roster for Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“I got ninth and was so excited at the prospect of riding Liege – but it’s the stage racing which sets you for the Classics.

“The course is tough; it just misses out the first part of the pro race – but the final 120 K is exactly the same.”

Joshua Berry
Joshua’s French team La Pomme Marseille has nurtured several top Pros.

But then came another crash?

“I’d prepared really well for the Baby Giro, at altitude but on Stage One, before the first kilometre was even in, I crashed and a chainring cut into my kneecap – season over!

“I was so disappointed because I was highly motivated to help Joe Dombrowski – who won the race after being second in 2012.”

What’s still to ride?

“Poitou Charentes, the Tour du Jura, Tour de Doubs, GP Somme, GP Isbergues.”

2014?

“It’s not decided yet, my agent is hard at work – but I believe I’ve helped the team so . . .

“This year has been a true challenge, I separated my shoulder then injured my knee and had crashes – but I’m still here, doing my job and like I said; not just ‘some American.’”

We’re happy to report that Joshua has been riding well in his late season races – 15th and winner of the ‘hot spots’ in the GP Somme and 20th in the Tour du Jura – nice results.

Let’s hope that they help him get a nice crisp 2014 contract.

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.

Related Articles

Mark Stewart – Looking Back at the Tour de Yorkshire

Scotland’s British Points Champion and World Cup Team Pursuit medallist, Mark Stewart was in action in the recent Tour de Yorkshire, building endurance for his next track campaign which centres round the European U23 Track Championships in July. We thought we’d best have a word with the man ...

James Davey – Getting great results in Italy, including the bestial Monte Grappa U23 Classic

Italy’s Bassano-Monte Grappa U23 Classic has been around since 1930 and lists Italian Legend, Gino Bartali as a winner in 1934; with Leonardo Piepoli, Giro winners Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego, not to mention Fabio Aru all on the more recent role of honour. It’s a beast of race, flat then rearing up the feared Monte Grappa climb – of Giro fame - to finish at over 1700 metres.

Phil Trodden – From Rugby to Cycling to National Championship Medals in Two Seasons!

"Hey Ed, hope you are well? Just thought I'd let you know the Scottish guys are racing Ras Muhman this weekend, a four day over in Ireland. Phil Trodden in particular is riding for Scotland. I don't know if you know Phil, but he is an absolute gent and a proper racer..." That was the message from British Points Race Champion, Mark Stewart – best not argue with those trackies, they can get very emotional – so we dropped Phil a line and here’s what he had to say to us.

Mark Stewart – “The GB Academy is pretty intense”

It’s wee while since top Scottish trackman, Mark Stewart featured in our pages but he was home recently from GB squad duties and his base in ‘la Bella Italia’ for his brother’s wedding and has been taking in a few local time trials in preparation for next Thursday’s British Cycling Time Trial Championships at Stockton-on-Tees. We thought we best ‘have a word’ before he’s off around Europe, again.

Lewis Stewart – “I’m very motivated by the European U23 Track Championships”

We caught up with 18 year-old Killearn man, Lewis Stewart at the Bremen Six Day - one of the rare occasions when the sprint academy riders actually get out to race. The Bremen Six Day fans – as with those in Berlin and Rotterdam – like their sprinting with match races, keirins, flying laps and team sprints all included for the big guys. Despite me almost dropping Lewis as I held him up at the start of one race, he still took time to speak to VeloVeritas about being a young sprinter in the GB ‘system.’

Alfie George – On Winning the u23 Gent Six Day!

Adding his name to the u23 Gent Six Day roll of honour is Scotland’s Alfie George; the young Scot ran out winner just a few weeks after his fine seventh place in the Junior Worlds Road race in Harrogate and a season which saw him fifth in the junior Paris-Roubaix.

At Random

Tom Southam – Behind the Wheel in the Drapac Team Car

The last time we spoke to ex-pro Tom Southam he was Rapha Condor’s press officer - but he’s moved on again and is now the man behind the steering wheel in the Drapac team car. The team have been rampant with stage wins in the Tour Down Under and most recently the Jayco Herald Sun Tour courtesy of Wouter Wippert and Will Clarke, respectively. Tom took time recently to chat to VeloVeritas about his move from word processor to team car.

Alistair Speed

It is with sadness that we record that Scottish Cycle Sport has lost one of it’s stalwarts. Alistair Speed - son of Scottish veteran’s 24 hour time trial record holder, Archie Speed – has died following a collision with a car on the A91 between Strathmiglo and Gateside, a road he trained and raced on many times.

Johan Bruyneel – “It started with an idea”

At the recent RadioShack-Nissan-Trek training camp "The Boss" Johan Bruyneel was open to just about any questions. A collection of around a dozen journalists assembled in the Diamante Hotel in Calpe, Spain for a good old chat.

Ben Swift – Team Ineos Stalwart is National Road Champion 2019

Ben Swift launched a monster kick, leaving Scot, John Archibald to the bronze then zooming past teammate Ian Stannard on his blindside in the streets of Norwich to arrive at the line in solitary splendour and unleash a mighty roar of triumph and relief. We caught up with him at his Isle of Man home on the Tuesday after his win...

Evan Oliphant’s Haut Var

Down in the South of France it was AG2R and F des J reminding us that the French teams work hard in the winter, too at Haut Var. Long term 2009 Tour yellow jersey wearer, Rinaldo Nocentini took stage one and the man with the lucky four leaf clovers on his tricot, Christophe Le Mevel took stage two and the GC.

Book Review: “Oh, THAT Tour!” by Paul Jesson

Paul Jesson has recently finished his autobiography; ‘Oh, THAT Tour!’, the title coming from his introduction to the pro ranks. The book isn’t a conventionally structured tome, starting with a short chapter about the Paralympics time trial/road race bronze medal he came back and won in Athens some 24 years after his Vuelta stage win...