PEZ Interviews: U23 TT Champ Dominique Cornu
Any time a young racer racks up wins one year after the next, it’s a pretty good sign of what’s to come. Dominique Cornu won 4 national TT titles in Belgium and scored a 4th at the World’s in 2004 – until his breakout win in the U23 World TT Champs in Austria this year. He’s signed with Predictor-Lotto for ’07, and recently talked to PEZ…
PEZ: Dominique, first of all congratulations to your gold medal at the U23 World TT Championships in Salzburg! How does it feel to have a rainbow jersey at home?
DC: Thank you! It feels great, it makes me happy and satisfied. I worked hard to get it so that makes it beautiful! That jersey is mine forever.
Dominique Cornu stormed the U23 TT circuit in Austria.
PEZ: You have been part of the Belgian cycling squad in several World Championships. How would you characterize your development throughout the past years towards the title in this year?
DC: It’s correct I did a lot of World Championships. This was my fourth on the road. I did also one on track and one on the mountain bike. I learned during the first ones that I must be stronger mentally. Because when you are too nervous before [the race] start it takes lot of energy. This year I’m a lot stronger mentally and I was not too nervous before the start. I trained a lot for good road races like Tour de L’Avenir and GP de Wallonie (9th). I was sure I was good for the road race in Salzburg. I didn’t train specially for the time trial but I knew if I’m good for the road race then I’m also good for the time trial.
PEZ: I heard that you were a mountain biker first before changing to road cycling. How did you start with cycling and progress to the road?
DC: Yes I started mountain biking when I was 1O years old. My dad was also mountain bike racer but just for fun. It seems quickly that I had talent and that I make good results without much training. After a few years I start also riding courses on the road, just as training for the mountain bike. But it seems I was also good on the road. As a second year junior I did mountain bike, track and road. That year I broke through on the road. I won big road races and I was very good in time trials. The next year I started my first season on the road only with some success, but I have still a lot of progression!
Dominique’s experience includes road, mtb, and track.
PEZ: Generally, cycling fans do have a big respect for Belgian riders – Belgium is famous for its BIG cycling stars. What do you think are the special skills of a cyclist who grew up in Belgium?
DC: Belgium is a country of cycling indeed, not only of riders but the fans, the people of Flanderen. I don’t know if Belgian riders have special skills for cycling. I don’t have one particular idol in Belgium. I’m proud of the young riders who beat up against the older guy’s. But what Boonen did in his young career… WOW!
PEZ: You belong to Belgium’s best U23 riders, finishing strong in classic road races as well as being a tough time trials. Which (physical and mental) skills are – in your opinion – necessary for a successful combination of a strong road cyclist AND time trialist, as you are?
DC: It’s important to be strong of course, time trialing and finishing is something you either have or not. But it’s not only that, it’s a mentally case. It’s getting better with getting older and the persons around you are also very important!
PEZ: You are regularly competing in the biggest U23 races, from famous Classics to stage races all over Europe. Which of them do you like most?
DC: I have a lot of races that I like. I did all the races I wanted to do as U23, because next year I’m turning professional. We have in Belgium a lot of beautiful races, all the classics, that’s why all the riders of other countries come to us. I like also races with climb, something like Tour de Lerida (Lleida).
On the podium with silver medalist Mikhail Ignatiev (Russian Federation) and bronze medalist Jerome Coppel (France).
PEZ: Some years ago, you told me that you would prefer putting everything into a cycling career instead of a long school career. As we can see, it worked out fine. Would you recommend this kind of career planning to other young riders?
DC: It’s a personal decision you make. The procession you make as rider from junior till professional is like going to the university. You must work for it and trying to get your diploma.
PEZ: Looking into your future, where do you see Dominique Cornu in five years time?
DC: It’s difficult to say that for myself but let’s hope I can still grow a few years as a good professional. Time will show me, I will work for it so I hope cycling will be my future.
PEZ: Many riders in your age do have the perspective of a contract in an UCI ProTour team for the 2007 season. For which pro team will you ride in 2007?
DC: Yes me too, soon I sign a contract with Davitamon–Lotto [becoming Predictor-Lott – ed.] the Belgian pro tour team. I’m looking forward to it. It will be a big step but I’m ready to learn!
PEZ: Dominique, thanks a lot for this interview – have a good off-season and all the best for your future!
Name: Dominique Cornu
Date of Birth: 10/10/1985
Best skills: time trial
Recent team: Davitamon-Lotto (from 2007 on)
Best Results: World TT Champion 2006 (U23), multiple Belgian TT champ
Personal website: www.dominiquecornu.be
About Dr Florian Wenk:
Florian is triathlete, amateur road racer and PEZ-Man in Germany. Aged 28, he is medical doctor and does research in endurance training and testing, focusing on metabolic and ergospirometric parameters in cycling performance. You can contact him via [email protected] or have a look at his website www.florianwenk.com