David Veilleux (Europcar) received gracious applause from his hometown fans at the start of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec on Friday. He was the third-placed Canadian on the day, finishing 22nd behind his fellow countrymen Michael Barry (Sky Pro Cycling) and Dominique Rollin (FDJ).
“I’m really from this area and I’ve trained a lot on these courses,” Veilleux told Cyclingnews. “I brought the guys on my hometown roads. This was a big deal and I was really excited just to have the chance to race at this level in my hometown. In any sport, for any athlete, this is the wish, and I had the chance to do it so I am pretty excited.”
The UCI WorldTour Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal made their debut to the North American circuit last year. Veilleux competed in both events for the Canadian National team and is hoping to improve on those performances this weekend.
“The level is really high here and the level is really strong,” Veilleux said. “If I can do a top 15 or a top 10, that would be great. It will depend on a lot of things and we are going to have to see how it goes.”
Veilleux joined the Professional Continental outfit at the start of this season. Coming from the US-based Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth program the previous year, he made a dramatic entrance into European racing at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, both in April.
“Paris-Roubaix went pretty well but it’s tough to race at that level,” Veilleux said. “They were certainly a level higher, like these two races this weekend, where riders are looking for big points and wins.”
Veilleux has based himself at the Europcar team headquarters in the Vendée in France and is confident that he will re-sign with the program for the next season. He is hopeful that his first-year experiences will pay off and transform into good results next year.
“To go from criterium racing in the US to doing 200-kilometre plus races, I have learned a lot,” he said. “I had to get used to the distance but I think this season went pretty well and it will all help me for the future. Next season I will be more prepared to try and do some good results. Chances are good that I will be with this team again.”