Interviewed on October 13, 2021
How does one become a professional cyclist? At what age should you start? How do you reconcile sport and studies? We interviewed Cédrine Kerbaol (Cofidis Women Team) to find out more...
D.H. Hi Cédrine, I would like to talk a little about your beginnings, when you started cycling. I think you started relatively late...could you talk a little about it? Why did you start cycling? Why this sport and not another one?
C.K. Actually, I come from a family of athletes. I've done everything since I was little! I had done a bit of triathlon, surfing, gymnastics, judo, a lot of things like that... And then when I started cycling, it was at the colleague, it was not a very easy period and cycling was an escape because I didn't feel good in my skin at that time, I didn't have confidence in myself and I joined a cycling club! And then I felt myself gaining confidence, the competition was at the FSGT level at that time and I saw that even without training, compared to other girls, I could ride! One day, I borrowed a good carbon bike from a friend, it was a mountain bike and I finished vice champion of Brittany FSGT !
D.H. Without training more than that ?
C.K. No. My training was the Sunday race: on Sundays, I trained for the next Sunday! (laughs) Sometimes, I would do a little ride on Wednesday, that's how I got into cycling and it happened all at once: I went from the FSGT to the FFC in one year!
D.H. How old were you?
C.K. 14, I was in the 5th gradeth or 4th... Honestly, I can never thank the bike enough because it's what made me stronger to face everything in life and it's true that it's something I haven't told many people about yet but it's my identity. And that's what made me start cycling and that's why when I'm on the bike I'm so angry because I started cycling to fight and now I fight on the bike...
D.H. You said that you have been involved in several sports... Do you think that you chose cycling because you saw that you had some advantages over other sports or was it really something that you just liked more than other sports?
C.K. Actually, I was busting my ass on the bike (laughs) more than in other sports... I was suffering but at the end I was happy to have suffered and that's why it happened in that period of my life because I was satisfied with myself, with having pushed my limits... It's really related!
D.H. But how did you do it? Because I imagine that at some point you started to train a little more than on Sundays! Was that something that was difficult for you?
C.K. At the beginning, I didn't even ask myself the question. I didn't know how far I could go, I never said to myself at 14-15 years old "My dream is to go pro! I just took things as they came. I did my college in the normal way, I didn't have a special schedule, but when I got to high school, I asked to have my schedule adjusted! So I had my Wednesday and Friday afternoons free, I think... So it allowed me to go one step further and when I got to high school, I had my first selections for France and I said to myself "I MUST GIVE MYSELF THE MEANS TO SUCCESS!" and my whole family was going in the same direction and they said "Listen, you are going to do your studies so that you can train on the side! Since I had my high level status, I was able to do my BTS over 3 years... I didn't encounter any big difficulties with that even if I still encounter some today because this year I am supposed to have 25 hours of classes per week...
D.H. You are in 3th year, right?
C.K. Yes, so 25 hours of classes per week, I can tell you that when you train 20-22 hours in winter, it's hot! But fortunately my teachers are kind and I can skip three hours here and there, it's cool but I have everything to catch up on afterwards... It's good but I can't wait for it to end anyway.
D.H. You said that at 14-15 years old, you didn't plan to make a career out of it at all... At what point did you really think that this is something that could make you want to go further? At what point did you really start thinking about the team option pro team option?
C.K. When I arrived in the Espoir category, because you know, you can only go professional through the Espoir category. My first year as an Espoir rider, we discussed with my coach for a long time, we thought about it and we said to ourselves that I was very new in cycling. For the moment, I couldn't think about going pro because I had to pass a hurdle mentally and physically... I didn't put any pressure on myself and it was during this year of Espoir that I made my first result in a UCI race. I did 77th on the Périgord Ladies and then (laughs) all the teams started to call me! So I was in the mode "Well, next year, it's good, you go pro and you go to the UCI!
D.H. Is it really on a race that everything is played out? If you make a good time, a good result, you have teams that call you from one day to the next?
C.K. Yes, that's really it!
D.H. I'm changing the subject a little bit, but I'd be curious to know how much of a role you think family and parents play in the success you have today?
C.K. It's true that my parents have always supported me without forcing me to do anything... For me, what they did was really ideal for my development! I see examples of parents who tell their 12 year old "You have to win!" and who get angry at the end of the race because their child has given up or something like that... Basically, we are here to enjoy ourselves! It's a hobby! Even if it's my job, it's still a pleasure so my parents were really exemplary for me! When they were running, they did a lot of trails and my brother and I were there to encourage them on the roadside. We were immersed in it and I got into it quite naturally. From a financial point of view at the beginning, when I didn't have a bike loan, they were there and tried to make sure I had the right equipment. It was cool because it's true that a good bike makes a difference! (laughs)
D.H. Before you had the bikes provided by the clubs, were the bikes you used second hand or new?
C.K. I've always had used bikes except for my mountain bike which was 14kg, I think. A very heavy thing!!! (laughs) That's when I switched to my girlfriend's bike...I went from my heavy Nakamura to the Giant in carbon, that's when it clicked! After that, I started on a Giant road bike, which was heavy but we bought it second hand... You know, at that age, parents are not ready to pay a lot of money! Well, it depends on which parents (laughs), mine took a decent bike... And when they saw that I liked it, we bought another second-hand bike that belonged to a girl from a DN and it's sure that it was immediately felt on the results! And then even on the motivation because unconsciously the child says to himself "My parents offer me a beautiful bike, they have confidence in me, they believe in me, maybe I can succeed!
At that moment you are in your personal construction and that plays a role!
D.H. So what advice would you give to other parents who have children who like it, is to show them a little bit of different sports, to leave the door open to them and not to force them?
C.K. That they believe in themselves and above all that we are here to enjoy ourselves! But at some point, you can't give your child the latest bike if he's not very motivated or just doing it on a whim, you know? You have to do things gradually. My carbon bike, we made a kind of pact with my parents! They said, "Okay, now we're getting a great bike! Now we're getting a great bike! But we agreed that you would train twice a week and do the competition on Sundays. I said, "Yeah! I'm motivated!". It's something that has to be really thought out on both sides because it's an investment at the beginning... Putting 1500€ in a bike, we were like "Wow! That's huge!!!".