Canadian Veilleux finding his comfort zone in Europe

In just his second year racing in Europe, Canadian David Veilleux is getting increasingly comfortable in the pro peloton

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TURGUTREIS, Turkey (VN) – Canadian David Veilleux is enjoying another great season, after his strong rookie year in 2011. He’s racing this week at the Tour of Turkey, and the 24-year-old said he’s really finding his way in the peloton this year.

That was evident earlier this spring, when for the second year in a row, Veilleux found himself in the front row at Paris-Roubaix. Just like he did last year, the Canadian pro on Europcar snuck into the day’s main breakaway at the Hell of the North.

That style of racing is confirmation that, as the Québecois told VeloNews, he’s more comfortable than ever racing in Europe.

“I can see that I am much stronger than last year. I have much more endurance,” he said. “I see a big difference from last year – I am much more used to the distance. That’s the big part, because in the U.S., the races are shorter. I can see that I have gained a lot on that point. I try to stay with the front group and get some results.”

Veilleux made the leap to Europe last season after three years at Kelly Benefit Strategies, thanks in part to contacts between France and the Canadian cycling federation.

A strong time trialist – he is a three-time U23 Canadian time trial champion – the French-speaking Veilleux admits he’s still searching to find his specialty in Europe.

“I still do not know what kind of rider I can be,” he said. “I am good at everything, but not excellent in one, so it’s hard to know. I have an OK sprint, OK time trial and I am OK climbing, so I really do not know. Things are going well for me.”

His strong rides across the cobbles suggest he could also be a classics specialist in the making. In 2011, he rode into the day’s main breakaway to finish 25th at Paris-Roubaix. This year, once again, he was in Roubaix’s main escape and crossed the line 47th, both very respectable for any young rider.

“I got lucky again to get into the move at Roubaix. It took a long time for the break to form,” he said of this year’s Roubaix. “When I was in the break, I tried to do less work than last year, but once we got caught, I started to have chain problems. That really prevented me from trying to stay with the front group.”

Veilleux’s presence in the break paid off in a big way. Europcar teammate Sébastian Turgot rode to second place, the best by a Frenchman since Frédéric Guesdon won back in 1997.

“We had a strong team. We are not favorites there, but we have really strong riders and we showed what we can do in races like that,” Veilleux said of Roubaix. “I like Roubaix very much. I like that type of effort – It’s a good race for me. It’s amazing to be in the breakaway. With the crowd, it’s really something special.”

After Turkey, he’ll race at the Four Days of Dunkirk and then participate in a mountain training camp with his Europcar teammates.

Does that suggest he might earn himself a ticket to the Tour de France this summer?

With Europcar missing out on bids to start the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, the Tour will be the team’s lone grand tour of the season, so competition within the squad to make the nine-man selection will be intense.

“Maybe the Tour is possible; we shall see how things go,” he said. “We have two big captains, with Voeckler and Rolland, so it will be hard to make the Tour. They will look to see which guys can help them. I hope to be there.”

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