Bonjour PEZ Fans and welcome to my world as I take you for an inside look at my season 2014. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Clément Koretzky and I’m a French pro with the Professional Continental team, Bretagne-Seché Environnement. This is my second year with the squad and I’m more excited than ever to start the season as I believe it’s going to be a big one for me and my team.
During the off season it’s always important to just chill out for a while and I had the occasion to take a full 15 days completely off after Paris-Tours where I profited from the break visiting family in Paris and just relaxing. Before we start the new season though it’s good to look back at 2013 to best prepare for 2014.
2013 – First year in the Professional Continental Ranks
There were some highs and some lows that’s for sure. My escape in Paris-Roubaix was an obvious positive and hitting the Arenberg forest before the peloton in the company of the big names of Hayman, O’Grady & Steegmans was an unforgettable experience.
I came out of Paris Roubaix (my first World Tour race) super tired but also super happy. I experienced the really high level of the WorldTour first hand, in the break but I came out a finisher and I realised that the level is certainly high but it’s not impossible and I was even able to have a lot of fun by making the break.
Another high was in one of the other big races of the year at the Grand Prix de Wallonie just 15 days before the Worlds where I was able to take 13th place behind the winner Jan Bakelants. I found myself mixing it up with the best in the World as they tuned up for their big objective and when Philippe Gilbert attacked in the climb of the Citadelle de Namur a lot of top guys were dropped but I took Philippe’s wheel and held on, determined not to give up.
I may have only finished 13th that day but I again realized that I was capable of some good things in the future. That day I had the legs but perhaps not the confidence in myself but from now on it’s up to me to prove what I’m capable of and that I can get the results. It was certainly one of the highlights of the year and it was great to be up with the best and even better to have my girlfriend Laetitia on the side of the road supporting me.
My biggest supporter and my biggest support, my beautiful girlfriend Laetitia
Unfortunately a season is never full of just positive points and my season 2013 sure did have some negatives. Injuries are a part and parcel of the life of a bike racer but my worst memory from last year truly was a bad one – my broken collarbone at the Tour of Turkey.
It was one of those silly accidents for no reason, two guys in front of me got tangled up together and went down and unfortunately I just couldn’t avoid them. I broke my collarbone in 4 places and lost consciousness on the side of the road in a strange country where I didn’t speak the language. The subsequent ambulance trip and hospital stay was nothing short of scary and an experience I hope that I will never have again.
Because of this accident I lost 2 months of riding and it took 3 months to get back up to the right level. I had an even further sour taste too as our team was selected for the famous WorldTour, Criterium du Dauphiné and just the day before the accident my manager told l me that I was selected…
But enough about 2013 – now’s the time to concentrate on 2014 and I’ve prepared really well this season – and had a nice holiday too. During my holidays in Paris I was tested for a surprise anti-doping control, this time it was Italian testers – the last time it was Danish – a great way to practice my English I guess! I was also able to further practice my English just hanging out in the capital and meeting people from all over the world, English, Australians, Americans…
It was a super experience just relaxing with my cousin, going riding with other cyclists and fans or sharing a drink or a coffee. In Paris it’s the ‘in thing’ to ride around on a fixie and the guys that are mixing it up on fixies with the classic bicycles and all the different skill levels on display makes for an interesting riding experience. I also managed to ride past the Eiffel Tower and down the Champs Elysées dreaming of the Tour this year…
Crusing the streets of Paris at night.
Getting into the fixie spirit with an appropriate cycling cap!
I even managed to head out for some night rides in the Capital, taking in the sights including the famous Chateau de Versailles – magnifique! A world away from the calm countryside of my region in the Herault Valley but a very special place all the same. At the end of my Parisien week I headed off to the Aveyron region to compete in my first CycloCross of the season and I managed to get the win there so hopefully that’s a sign for the rest of the road season ahead.
Mixing it up on the dirt in preparation for the big road races ahead.
On returning to the South of France after the holidays were finished it was time to put in the hard miles, laying the base for the season. Fortunately I had lots of great training partners to help me through from my dad, to local club riders and more often than not with my brother who’s famous for his mtbing and has a few French, European and even World Champion jerseys to his credit – certainly a good training partner.
Me with just a few of my jerseys…ok, my brother Victor’s jerseys.
During the off season it was also time to head off to Bretagne for the first pre season camp with my team where I got to meet some of the new recruits, catch up with teammates from last year and the really fun part – check out the new equipment!
This year we’re riding on KEMO Bikes which is a new brand formed by the Comalli brothers who used to work at Kuota. (Ed: I first spotted them at Eurobike last year) They’ve taken their almost 15 years of experience in composite fiber research and development into their new company and they’re sponsoring us with the 5KS version of their KE-R8 frame. It’s their top model and from first impressions I’m really satisfied and looking forward to racing on it.
We’ve also had some changes in our clothing too with a new white racing strip from Noret and some cool gear from Kappa for pre and post riding wear.
My teammates, Erwann Corbel and Arnaud Gerard in the new team kit.
We certainly look the part, we’ve got the right equipment, we have the talent, some quality new recruits like the Feillu brothers, Brice and Romain who have experienced great success at the Tour de France in the past and we have the will to succeed. It’s now up to us to prove it out there on the road.
Out training back home in the South with PEZ’s editor Chris Selden.
The camp wasn’t all about some cool free stuff though, we also got to know each other better, work out our positioning, talk about our schedules and just have a bit of fun together in the name of team bonding. To this end we did a number of activities including go karting which was new to me but certainly a lot of fun.
Now as I write this I’m preparing to fly to the other side of the world to Argentina for the Tour de San Luis, my team’s first big test of the year. This is the first time our team will compete there and I’m honored to be selected and looking forward to the challenge and the beauty of the race. Despite having some great fun with a few cyclocrosses over the offseason I’ve missed the feeling that only road racing gives me, the atmosphere, the adrenaline and most of all the passion. This trip will be more than just a race for me, it’s a trip to South America to race against the best in the World with riders like Sagan, Quintana, Cavendish etc and I hope to be up there with them and why not bring home a result? We’ll see!
Wish me luck and keep it tuned to my Clément Chronicles throughout the year to follow my progress.