Mountain biker to Road Cyclist – Interview with Clément Berthet (2021)

In 2020 Clément Berthet was still a talented mountain biker, but in 2021 he switched to road cycling full time at Delko where he signed a contract till 2024. I asked him why he made the switch and how he got the attention of team Delko without doing any road races.

“It is very difficult to become a real professional within the MTB scene, but to be honest if you told me at the beginning of 2020 I would be a pro cyclist on the road in 2021 I wouldn’t have believed it either. I know one of the trainers of DELKO and during the first lockdown in France he got in contact with me. He asked me to share my power data and made me aware of the possibility to become a professional cyclist on the road even without racing experience in this discipline. After that it went quickly, in July I did a trainings camp with the team and they really wanted to work with me. So in October I took my decision and signed my first pro contract. It is a new project and a very big challenge for me but doing my passion with a very good team allows me to exploit my potential 100% which is so good and wouldn’t have been possible in MTB.”

I noticed you signed a long contract, till 2024 which is quite unusual within professional cycling especially for teams at the second level. Is there a particular reason for this?
“Yes indeed, the team has a long term vision with some riders including me. It’s really nice for me because I can learn and perform without any pressure. The team made the bet to take riders with an atypical profile like myself from MTB and African riders in order to develop us as much as possible in the best conditions. I am really recognizing the good opportunity I get from DELKO and I think it’s a very nice way and mentality to develop a team this way. “

What kind of rider are you? We saw you in the breakaway at Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var already of course but how are you looking to develop as a rider?
“At the moment I try to gain as much experience as possible, that’s why I went in a breakaway as well. I still have to find out how I will do on different race profiles and what suits me the best. But for sure I love climbing and mountain biking gave me good explosivity. I also really like time trials so I hope to be a good GC rider. But we will see how I develop!”

By the way, I am sure we will see Clément at the front in some televised races to come. But you can also follow him on Instagram!

What are you doing in your free time after a race?
“At the moment I don’t have a real routine because it’s still the start of my career. But lately after the stage I have called my girlfriend and family and I have tried to recover as much as possible with also some Netflix.”
His girlfriend, Juliette Labous, is also a professional cyclist she is riding for Team DSM.

You told me the focus is on learning and gaining experience right now but are there not any sneaky side goals like a certain race where you want to go for a good result?
“Not at all, I don’t have any pressure and getting results is not the goal right now. My goal is to be at my top level in some races and just do my best. If I learn fast and find myself in a good situation of course I will ride for a good result but for the moment it is not the main focus.” What is your race program looking like for the rest of the season? “The team is looking for the best races that suit my profile, I have a good calendar with some stage races because it’s more easy to learn and have feedback so you can really improve day by day. But on the other hand I also have to stay out of my comfort zone and discover all types of races, even if it doesn’t suit me well. In order to develop myself as a rider.”

Team Delko has a lot of nationalities, does this give any language barriers? And do you know how to spell the names of your Eritrean teammates?
“Hahah, in the team we often joke about our languages because African riders sometimes try to speak a little bit of French but for sure I am totally unable to understand or speak a single word of their language. Within the team we mostly speak English and sometimes a bit of French, It’s really nice for me because I improve my English a lot and it’s also really nice to share time and speak with a lot of the guys who come from different cultures and nationality, it’s very enriching. “

I think Team Delko is on a really cool path scouting riders from the unknown instead of always looking at the same most prestigious U23 races. The team is in a quite hard position because there are so much ProTour teams in France, hopefully they will get their well-earned Tour de France wildcard one day. Maybe with the help of Clément, really cool story going from lockdown to professional partly because of Covid-19.
It was really nice to get to know you a little bit better, good luck and thanks for your time Clément!

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