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. 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.
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.
The 2012 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 at the end of the season was his biggest achievement up until his Stage One triumph in the Dauphine, last week.
Veilleux took time to talk to PEZ as he recovered from the Dauphine and began to think about final preparation for his first Grand Tour – le Tour de France.
PEZ: Congratulations David – did you sleep beside the maillot jaune?
No, but I had it where I could see it so that if I woke up in the night I could make sure I wasn’t dreaming!
PEZ: You were away for 118 K with 47 K of those solo – when did you begin to believe?
I thought it might be possible for the right break to stay away – but on a short stage like that a lot is down to how the field reacts. I knew I had very strong legs and when the guys in the break with me began to tire in the middle of the stage I decided to go alone, attacking before the top of a climb. With 20 K to go I began to realise it was possible but I still kept pushing hard on those pedals and it wasn’t until the last 100 metres that I realised that it was certain.
PEZ: The legs must have hurt on stage two?
Yeah, the next stage was kinda hard, especially the start – that was tough on the leg muscles. With all the protocols after Stage One I had no time to do a warm down so I was pretty stiff for the first kilometres of Stage Two.
PEZ: And the team worked well for you on Stages Two and Three?
Oh yeah, it was important for the team to defend the jersey; they were proud and happy to help me with the defence.
PEZ: Sometimes a French team doesn’t try as hard as it might for a foreign leader?
No, no, they were 100% and very happy for me – even though I’m obviously not French.
PEZ: You lost the jersey in the time trial.
I really tried my best in the time trial and for the first 15 K I was going well but after that it wasn’t happening – but I gave it my all.
PEZ: And Monsieur Voeckler made it an even better Dauphine for Europcar?
Yes with his win that made it two stages and three days in yellow for us – it always boosts the squad if Thomas is going well.
PEZ: And you were frisky again on Stage Eight.
It was a good stage for Pierre Rolland and I was working hard to get him in position for the last climb – but there was a total lack of cooperation in the break and it didn’t work out.
PEZ: Are you still living in the team house in the Vendee?
My fiancée and I moved to Girona six months ago and we spent the winter there; but I still use the team house depending on my race programme.
PEZ: You rode you usual cobbled classic programme, how did it go for you?
I was a good team mate but my fitness was average. I know those races well but my training has been more geared towards hilly races and the second part of the season – I’m really looking forward to that.
PEZ: Is Europcar riding in the new Alberta Tour in Canada?
We’re not sure yet, the team is trying to see if it’s possible. Obviously we’ll be riding the World Cup races in Montreal and Quebec – they’re an important part of our programme.
PEZ: Europcar is very ‘French’ how do the guys like Thurau and Malacarne get by?
Thurau’s French isn’t too bad and Malacarne’s has improved a lot; but it is harder for them. We also have an Eritrean rider, Berhane Teweldemedhin if I’m at the team house he stays with me – he has a little English so I try to help him with French as much as I can.
PEZ: What’s the latest on a team sponsor for 2014?
We don’t know yet, that’s for the management to deal with – I do my stuff on the road and leave that to them.
PEZ: And you’re on the Tour team.
Yes, I’m very excited; obviously my fitness is good and I’m looking forward so much to being in Corsica for the Grande Depart. I’ll be there to help the team – in Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler we have two of the race’s key players and I want to give them as much support as I can. For every cyclist it’s their dream to ride the Tour de France – and for me it’s coming true.