In 2020, Clément Berthet was an accomplished mountain biker. However, in 2021, he made a full-time switch to road cycling with Team Delko, signing a contract until 2024. We asked him about his transition and how he caught Team Delko’s attention, despite not having any prior road racing experience.
Berthet shared, “Becoming a true professional in the mountain biking scene is quite challenging. Honestly, if you had told me at the start of 2020 that I would become a professional road cyclist in 2021, I wouldn’t have believed it either. I happen to know one of the trainers from DELKO, and during the initial lockdown in France, he reached out to me. He asked for my power data and introduced me to the possibility of becoming a professional road cyclist, even without road racing experience. Things progressed rapidly after that. In July, I participated in a training camp with the team, and they expressed a strong interest in working with me. So, in October, I made the decision to sign my first professional contract. It’s a new venture and a significant challenge for me, but pursuing my passion with such a great team allows me to unleash my full potential, which wouldn’t have been possible in mountain biking.”
We noticed that you signed a relatively long contract, extending until 2024, which is unusual in professional cycling, especially for second-tier teams. Is there a specific reason for this?
Berthet explained, “Yes, indeed. The team has a long-term vision for certain riders, including myself. This is a great opportunity for me because I can focus on learning and performing without excessive pressure. DELKO is taking a unique approach by recruiting riders with unconventional backgrounds like mountain biking and also including African riders to develop us under the best conditions. I truly appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given by DELKO, and I believe their approach to team development is commendable.”
What type of rider are you, and how do you envision your development in this sport?
Berthet shared, “At the moment, I’m trying to gain as much experience as possible. This is why I recently joined a breakaway during the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. I’m still exploring my strengths on various race profiles to determine what suits me best. I have a passion for climbing, and my mountain biking background has given me good explosiveness. Additionally, I enjoy time trials, so I hope to excel as a General Classification (GC) rider. However, my development is a work in progress, and we’ll see how it unfolds.”
In your free time after a race, what do you typically do?
Berthet replied, “I don’t have a set routine yet since my career is just beginning. Lately, after a stage, I’ve been calling my girlfriend and family, trying to recover as much as possible, and catching up on some Netflix.”
His girlfriend, Juliette Labous, is also a professional cyclist, riding for Team DSM.
While you’re primarily focused on learning and gaining experience right now, are there any races or specific goals you have in mind?
Berthet said, “Currently, I don’t feel any pressure to achieve specific results. My goal is to perform at my best in certain races. If I learn quickly and find myself in a favorable situation, I’ll certainly strive for good results. However, it’s not my primary focus at the moment.”
What does your race schedule look like for the rest of the season?
Berthet explained, “The team is planning races that suit my profile. I have a diverse calendar with some stage races, which provide valuable feedback and opportunities for improvement. However, I also need to step out of my comfort zone and experience different types of races, even if they may not suit me well. This diversity is essential for my development as a rider.”
Team Delko consists of riders from various nationalities. Does language pose any barriers, and can you spell the names of your Eritrean teammates?
Berthet humorously shared, “Within the team, we often joke about language, especially with the African riders who attempt to speak a bit of French. Unfortunately, I can’t understand or speak their language. We mostly communicate in English and occasionally in French. It’s been a great experience for me because it has improved my English, and interacting with riders from diverse cultures and nationalities has been enriching.”
In conclusion, Team Delko’s approach to scouting riders from unconventional backgrounds is commendable, and they are looking beyond the usual prestigious U23 races. Despite the competitive landscape of French ProTour teams, we hope to see them earn a well-deserved Tour de France wildcard in the future, perhaps with the help of riders like Clément, whose journey from lockdown to professional cycling was partially shaped by the challenges of Covid-19. It was a pleasure getting to know Clément better, and we wish him the best of luck in his career!