The Tre Valli Varesine is run over 198.5 kilometres around Varese in the north of Italy and is one of country’s most historic and desirable single day races; rated UCI 1HC.
It was first run in 1919 and has the likes of Fausto Coppi, Gianni Motta, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni on the roll of honour.
But there were no Canadian winners – until Europcar’s David Veilleux took his lead from Giro-winner Ryder Hesjedal and solo-ed to victory.
Veilleux has been a professional – initially on the North American scene – since 2007 when he turned pro with Jittery Joe’s at the age of 19. He was originally an off-road rider, with his first notable result being third in the 2002 Canadian debutant cyclo cross championship.
David was a popular rider on the North American circuit for a number of years before making the leap across the pond.
By 2006 he was Canadian U23 time trial champion, a title he successfully defended three times. Then in 2008 he moved teams to Kelly Benefit Strategies, where he remained until the end of 2010.
Stage wins in the Nature Valley and Tour of Pennsylvania stage races and a GC win in the Tour of Elk Grove were the highlights of his first year with Kelly. The following season saw strong performances on the world stage with tenth in the World U23 TT champs and a bronze medal in the Pan American U23 TT championship.
Pushing himself hard at the World U/23 championships. That looks like it hurts!
The 2010 season saw the man from Cap-Rouge grab GC wins in the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic in the US and Tour de Delta in Canada, not to mention a win in the hotly-contested US Pro criterium championship. He became the first Canadian ever to triumph there. For season 2011 he was with Europcar, taking his first Euro win in the 1.2 Roue Tourangelle in France and being in the break of the day in Paris-Roubaix, finishing an eventual 25th. He finished the season well with two placings just outside the top 20 in the UCI races in Quebec and Montreal.
This season saw a top 20 on GC at the Three days of De Panne and stage and GC wins in the tough Mi-Aout Bretagne. But leaving behind riders like Domenico Pozzovivo and Giovanni Visconti to win the Varesine is his biggest achievement to date. PEZ caught up with the 24 year-old from Cap Rouge, Quebec just after stage three of the Tour of Denmark.
PEZ: Where are you based in Europe, David?
DV: I live in the team house in the Vendee Region of France, I have to take care of myself – but that’s OK, I like cooking, it’s a bit of a hobby of mine.
The Vendee feeder team for Europcar is based there as well, so there are always plenty of training partners.
PEZ: How did the cobbled classics go this year?
DV: They went well; I was in the break in Paris-Roubaix, again and did my job for the team at the Tour of Flanders.
PEZ: We didn’t talk to you about your first win, in the Roue Tourangelle, last season.
DV: It’s a good race; UCI 1.2 – I was away with Anthony Delapace from Saur-Sojasun, we just managed to stay clear of the peloton at the line – and I took the sprint.
PEZ: And you went well at De Panne, this spring?
DV: Yeah, I had a good ride on the first stage and then finished the race of with a solid time trial.
PEZ: Tell us about your win in the Mi-Aout.
DV: It’s not an easy race; I won stage one after leaving the breakaway in the closing kilometres and won by about a minute.
There were four road stages after that and the Europcar team did a great job in defence of the jersey. There were a lot of attacks, but like I said, the team did an awful lot of work to ensure I ran out the winner.
PEZ: Tre Valli Varesine isn’t usually a race you’d associate with a French team.
DV: We don’t race that often in Italy but we have Italian sponsors in Colnago and Campagnolo, so it’s important for them for us to race there and perform well.
It’s really a top race with a lot of climbs and on the day it was very hot.
PEZ: How did it pan out?
DV: I attacked with one-and-a-half laps to go and held on to win!
David taking a hude solo win at the Tre Valli Varesine
Thomas Voeckler and the rest of the team did a great defensive job for me, back in the peloton. Andrea Palini was second and Danilo Di Luca third, both at 1:06.
It was a good result for me and the team; it attracted a good level of media interest in France.
PEZ: Which type of race suits you best?
DV: It’s hard to say, but I like a race which is on a circuit with a long climb. Stage three of the Tour of Luxembourg was on a similar parcours, this year and I rode well there, finishing in the lead group.
Riding strongly at this year’s Tour of Luxembourg
PEZ: How’s Denmark going?
DV: It was a tough stage, today – I was eighth behind Nordhaug from Sky. But the race will be decided in tomorrow night’s 14 kilometre time trial (won by Vacansoleil-DCM’s Lieuwe Westra, the GC also went to The Netherlands time trial champion.)
PEZ: You rode well in the two Canadian UCI races, last year.
DV: Yeah – and I’m looking forward to riding them again, I’m in good shape and hope to have good legs on the days. I’ll be a protected rider in the team, along with Thomas – but if he says he feels good then I’ll be riding 100% for him.
PEZ: Will we see you at The Worlds?
DV: I don’t know yet; I think Canada has four riders but I’m not sure yet. If I’m not doing the Worlds then I’ll probably finish my season after the Canadian races.
I won’t be doing the races in China.
PEZ: And will you still be in Europcar colours for 2013?
DV: We’re in the process of talking about that right now – but I should be!