PEZ Interviews: Jempy Drucker
Luxembourg is a small (beautiful) country between Germany and France – but several good cyclists hail from there: CSC’s Schleck brothers, as well Discovery’s Benoit Joaquim. Today, we focus on a young rider who is not concentrating on the road – he rides strong in the mud and heads to the U23 Cyclocross World Champs this weekend, Jempy Drucker. Being part of the cyclocross scene for quite a while, he gives insight into his training, racing strategies, home life, and the future.
How did you end up racing cyclocross? Who brought you to cycling, and what does cycling mean to you?
My dad was a cyclist too and he also did a lot of cyclocross training and racing, so I havenґt seen anything other than cycling in my life since my birth. This is also a reason why cycling is so important for me, because itґs a family thing. In the future, I hope to be able to live from cycling and to get a pro contract.
Training for competitive cycling over many years has effects on a person’s personality. How would you characterize yourself, and how did competitive cycling affect to your personality?
For me, itґs difficult to say, as I grew up with cycling. But, of course, cycling means a lot to me and my life and also has been a big influence on my character. I would say that I am very determined. If I have an idea and want to reach an aim, I will work hard on myself to reach it. But generally, I am a very funny and easy-going guy who does not like stress at all.
Will you undergo any changes regarding where you live? Many professionals move to warmer areas to have better training conditions. Or is there somewhere even a community with several riders of your recent team at the same place?
I wonґt change anyway. I am a family guy and I need my friends around me. Thatґs why I would never like to leave Luxembourg. We have very good training conditions here, you can train for three hours in flat surroundings but you also find some very hilly areas.
Not everyone enjoys riding in the cold and in the mud. What do you like on cyclocross?
I like the technical stuff. That means the choice of tyres, the air pressure, the way you go through a corner or ride through the mud, etc… Also a very important aspect for me is that I donґt like the road. Itґs boring for me, Iґm not the guy who is riding 150 km on a silly road.
In several countries, cyclocross is not as popular as in yours. What does it make so famous there? And what’s the special situation in Luxembourg as a small country located between Germany, France and Belgium/Netherlands?
I think cyclocross is so famous because it means more action, you see people riding in all weather conditions. And for the spectators itґs more interesting than road cycling because you can have a look at the riders several times over the course of a lap, over many laps of the cyclocross circuit, so fans can enjoy the spirit of cycling by being very close. In Luxembourg, cyclocross is getting more and more popular: If you have a look at our national championships, you can expect 2,500 to 3,000 spectators – considering luxembourgoise conditions, this is amazing. And it gives you a great push if you are one of the riders!
What are the differences in racing and events between the leading cyclocross nations Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Czech Republic?
Iґve been riding a lot in Belgium and – in my opinion – it is the best school to become a big gun in cyclocross, as a non-Belgian cyclist. There really is no other way. In Belgium, every week there’s a really big party held when a cyclocross race takes place. There are 10,000s of spectators celebrating and shouting – compared to any other country in the world, riding a cyclocross race in Belgium means the top!
On the podium with Niels Albert and Zdenek Stybar.
What results have you gotten this season? What do you expect in the Cyclocross World Championships for yourself and other U23 competitors? And where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
This year I’ve gotten some decent results. Several times I finished Top 6 in some big races. My podium finish behind Niels Albert (U23 Worlds favorite and Belgian U23 Champ) and Stybar (U23 World Champ) in the Superprestige race in Gieten stands out, but also my 6th place in the European U23 Championships, and my home win in the international race from Muhlenbach will stay in my memory.
For the World Championships, I hope to be able to finish among the top 10. But – after having been out for 4 weeks because of a virus – it is not easy to guess how the race next weekend will work out. In 5 years time, I hope to be a professional rider racing for a good team.
To be successful in cyclocross, you certainly need to do special training sessions. How do they look like? And how do you prepare for the cyclocross season during summer?
Generally, you have to set a focus on decent running training, too. The cycling training itself is not too different from road training – to be fast, you have to have a big motor. So you need to do a lot of road racing in the summer combined with some power exercises and a lot of stage races in which you should not go too deep.
Cyclocross bikes are often seen as stable but heavy. What are the needs and latest trends for a competition cyclocross bike? And what’s your favourite equipment?
Our Fidea team provided us full-carbon frames by the Belgian manufacturer Ridley. They are excellent. I’ve been racing on Ridleys for 3 years now. The bike has gotten better every year. The recent frame is very stiff as well as lightweight – that’s exactly what you need for a cyclocross competition.
Many thanks for answering our questions and a lot of success for the rest of your season!
Name: Jempy DRUCKER
Height: 1m 82
Club/Team: Fidea Cycling Team
Best results/titles (year): 6th European U23 Championships 2006, 8th World U23 Championships 2006, 12th U23 World Championships 2005,11th World Junior Championships 2004,6th European Junior Championships 2003,7 times National Champion
Personal website: www.jempydrucker.com