Canada's David Veilleux is set to become just the second rider from Quebec - after Pierre Gachon in 1937 - to compete in the biggest cycling event of the year when he toes the line at the start line at the 100th Tour de France in Corsica on June 29. The young rider from Team Europcar is aiming to be the best teammate he can for overall contenders Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler.
"My goal is to race for and work as hard as I can for Rolland and Voeckler," Veilleux told Cyclingnews. "If everything is going well with that, I would really like to finish the race."
Veilleux received a call-up to compete in the Grand Tour after winning the opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine and wearing the leader's jersey for three consecutive stages in early June. He lost the race lead during the stage 4 time trial and finished the event in 60th place overall.
Two weeks later, he proved his top form again after winning the overall title at the Boucles de la Mayenne in France.
"The Dauphine result was the biggest achievement in my career so far," he said. "It was so crazy and the amount of people who were following me and cheering for me was great. There were so many people who shared in my victory.
"I was really trying to keep the leader's jersey for the first two stages. I had no idea how I would do in the time trial. I did the best that I could, but I think the chances were strong that I would lose the jersey during that stage. After that I tried to stay up in the GC to see how things would go but I later realized that it was not achievable. I was OK with that because just being in the yellow jersey for three stages was amazing and that was a good race for me."
Veilleux started his cycling career as a junior rider from Quebec City. His potential for top-level racing was evident after winning the overall title at the Tour de l'Abitibi and multiple under 23 national titles in the time trial and road race.
He competed for US-based teams Jittery Joe's and Kelly Benefit Strategies. During those years he won overall titles at the Tour of Pennsylvania, Tour of Elk Grove and Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, and stood on the podium at Nature Valley Grand Prix.
In 2011, Team Europcar hired him to compete overseas where he won La Roue Tourangelle, Mi-Aout Bretonne and Tre Valli Varesine. It took two successful seasons with the French team for him to realize that he had what it takes to compete at the Tour de France.
"The Tour was the first cycling race that I discovered because it was the only race that was showing on TV when I was young," Veilleux said. "I never thought that I would be able to reach that level. During the last couple of years, I was in a good situation and I decided to aim for that objective."
Less than a week away from the start of the Tour de France and Veilleux is making his final preparations by resting. "I can't do too much now," he said. "I just need to make sure that I have a lot of energy going into the start of three weeks of racing."
Team Europcar is entering the Grand Tour under controversy, however, after Rolland recorded abnormally low levels of cortisol in a test taken at the Criterium du Dauphine. The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has temporarily suspended the team from its voluntary anti-doping association for allowing the rider to continue racing despite the abnormal test result.