Interview by Dave Arthur
Jerome Clementz drags a fully laden kit bag along the tiled floor in the lobby of the Hotel Florenz, our base in the Italian Riviera for a few days riding with the Cannondale Factory Race team, and drops into a plush sofa beside me. It’s been a long couple of days for the young Frenchman, entertaining media from around the world at this rare chance to see the entire Cannondale sponsored team in one place. Despite that, and a coming together with a rock on a challenging descent the previous day – and sporting a pucker of a bruise as a result – he’s full of energy and and the laughter flows easily as we exchange a few jokes.
You’ll be forgiven if you’ve not heard his name before, as he has risen to prominence very recently. The enduro format of racing (events with multiple timed sections with a downhill bias) is a popular fixture in France, and is slowly starting to take off here in the UK. There’s much talk about it being the ‘next big thing’ in mountain biking. And it’s these events that Jerome is becoming something of a specialist at, thanks in no small measure to a raft of wins including the Trans-Provence stage race last summer along with winning the French Enduro Series and taking the French Cup Championship. He also previously added the Megavalance to his CV in 2010.
It’s clear from our riding with him that he’s a hugely talented guy with the skills and fitness, and the right mental approach, to do really well in enduro as it continues to grow.We primed our dictaphone and threw a few questions at Jerome:
Hello Jerome. Right, let’s get one thing out of the way first, what’s with the Mark Weir-esque facial hair?
<laughs> It was not for this week, I have a media camp with SRAM next week, and it was a bet with them. I went to Iceland this summer and I had a nice moustache like this to look like a Viking and they (SRAM) asked me to come this week like this.
So are you planning to keep it this season then?
Maybe not this season, my girlfriend will not stay with me, <laughs> so probably one more week and after I will have to shave it <laughs>.
You’re sporting quite a fetching bruise on your face (Jerome crashed during the media week with us) injuries are clearly a part of the job, how do you cope with the risk of crashing when racing and training?
Yes <long pause>. You always crash. Every season you crash, sometimes, umm, the thing is we spend a lot of time on our bikes, so we really know our limits, when it’s 100%. We try to stay a bit below but really close. Like most of the time the crash happens not when we ride full speed, but more when we play with the bike, when we’re not focused enough, and the crash happens.
That’s how it happened with me today, I was just cruising down the hill, did a small hip and landed on the side of the trail and it was soft, and I went over the bars.