Jerome Clementz is one of the good guys, walking the thin line that’s commonly known as the ‘spirit of enduro’ with respect and modesty. We caught up with him the morning after the EWS conclusion in Finale Ligure, Italy…
DIRT ISSUE 143 – JANUARY 2014
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones, Sven Martin, Lee Trumpore & Sebastian Schiek
In the end it was domination. With the inaugural Enduro World Series (EWS) wrapped up Jerome Clementz dealt the killer punch in the final race to walk away with most stage wins to go with his World Champion status.
A formidable competitor who has raced World Cup downhill, won both the Megavalanche and Trans–Provence, this year he grabbed one of the greatest titles of all, EWS Champion and the ‘greatest all–round mountainbiker on the planet’ status that goes with it.Dirt: Jerome, have people actually got any idea how much risk and danger is involved in enduro racing?
Jerome: There is some.The sport is portrayed as almost like a marathon or cross–country event. It’s totally not like that, is it?
There are two sides. If people just want to come and do the course they can do it without too many risks. It’s mainly trail riding; it’s not proper downhill track.Oh, come on, don’t give me that.
But for racing, for the top riders, we go as fast as we can. We know a bit about the trail, sometimes. So that’s where it becomes dangerous, and we have a slightly smaller bike; 150, 160mm travel, and we try to go at a downhill race pace.I think some of the stages here were full–on tracks.
If you want to go fast on it, yes.Even if you go slowly on it…
Yes, obviously it is mountain biking. There is some risk.Many, many people were in hospital this weekend.
Yes, because they race. They want to go fast.What I’m trying to get at is perceptions, I think enduro is still portrayed as a little bit easier. It’s not easy, is it? Some of the stages, they’re proper, they wouldn’t be out of place at World Cup downhill.
There could be. There are some sections that are technical, but it’s always a matter of the way you want to ride it. There were some off–camber sections, which were steep on one side. So you don’t want to crash.Well, even before that, there was a big rock outcrop. That’s dangerous.
If you take it straight, yes. But if you go around, it’s easier. It’s slower but easier. I think it’s dangerous because you don’t know the trail really well, and you’re tired from the long stage and the climbing. You try to go fast, and that’s where it becomes dangerous. You don’t control everything.OK, let’s talk about your background. Three times Megavalanche winner, Trans–Provence winner. In 2002, you were racing juniors in World Cup DH!
Yes I was in the national team in 2001 and 2002. I did the European Championship in Livigno, I finished in sixth. Matti Lehikoinen won. Then at the Kaprun World Championships I was third at the quali, then I crashed, and I finished tenth.So the French teams were quite strong, weren’t they, back then? Manuel Huber the manager?
Yes, Manuel Huber. A very strong team: Nico Vouilloz, Cedric Gracia, Fabien Barel, Mikael Pascal, lots of these guys were good for us as juniors because they were helping us a bit on the track. Each senior rider had to take a bit of care of a junior rider, showing some lines and explaining how the World Championships work.>>