Geoffroy Lequatre Interview
From CX to the Peloton and beyond: An Interview with Geoffroy Lequatre
Geoffroy Lequatre is more than simply an interesting character. He is a former professional cyclist (3 x TdF rider) – a man of steel and mental toughness. Furthermore, he’s a former Tour of Britain winner from 2008, at a time when British Cycling was really coming to the fore. And a really nice guy to boot, who I could talk to for hours.
These days Geoffroy is the director of G4 Dimension Cycling Clothing, along with him wife and fellow athlete Petra. I caught up with him to share a chat about cycling and how his journey has evolved.
What was your first bike and where did you ride?
G: I was 5 years old and my father was a cyclist. I was given a very old bike with a cool paint job that I loved. We lived close to Paris; about 80 km south of Paris, where it is very flat, no trees, so I could go fast – very fast and I loved it. It was cool, very cool and I became very quick.
What was your first club?
G: My father was a very good cyclist. Not a pro, but a very good rider regionally and a local racer. He built a good team and a club, mainly cyclocross. I came into the club and started to train and ride with them.
What was your first race Geoffroy?
G: It was cyclocross. I was 12 years old when I had my first licence. I was always taking to the bike. It was great. Cycling is a game for young cyclists and I won my first race! I was always on the bike
Coming from an old style cross country mountain bike background as well as the road, it’s helped me with my handling skills on the roads. What do you think about cyclocross; did it help you?
G: I think cyclocross is very good for learning skills and handling that you can use later on the roads. This is one of the best ways to ride and handle the bike. It’s good preparation for a pro rider to ride through the winter on cyclocross also.
The Belgium’s have an excellent cyclocross set-up and look at their riders. However, in France it’s not so popular anymore. That's why we built the CROSSTEAM BY G4, to make more popular the cyclo cross in France.
In the peloton it’s very good. You ride ‘shoulder to shoulder’, very tight. You can practice your peripheral vision [on cyclocross], which you need in the peloton. To be on the bike, what will happen? You will be on cobbles, tight turns, twists – you have to practice this.
You’ve competed in several Grand Tours Geoffroy; as a Frenchman, what was it like competing in the Tour de France?
G: To compete, to be good enough to compete; to find your way on your bike and to be one of the pro riders in a team – a French professional rider in the Tour de France – ‘The Crown’. It is always a nice feeling. I competed 3 times.
The first time I crashed on the 5th stage and had to go home. However, in 2007 it started in London at the height of British Cycling’s success and it was an amazing feeling. I remember always cycling along roads with amazing crowds. Wonderful museums, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, between dream and reality - I love London.’
You won the Tour of Britain in 2008…but it didn’t come to the Yorkshire Dales! How did it feel to win this race?
G: After my second Tour de France I finished well and felt in good shape. I came into the race with a good feeling. One of our riders, Romain Feillu (AGR) had won the race the year before and we were a good team. There was no pressure on the team, who were 6 riders who were all good friends. On the third day I was in the breakaway. We were 6 to 8 minutes ahead and I was in a group with Steve Cummings. A team mate (Emilien Berges) came alongside me and said:
“Let’s go, let’s pull for yellow!”
We went so strong. He took the victory with 1 minute. The sprint came along and I was second. The day after, I took back the yellow jersey, I felt good and strong and kept going well. It was amazing. We had a good team.
Geoffroy, you’ve now moved into G4 Dimension; how did that come about?
G: I was young in my career as a cyclist. My 4th year I crashed in the World Cup in Hamburg, hitting an electric light post at 65km an hour! It took me 8 months to come back from this. I became more aware of what to do in the future.
I come from an artistic and design family, and started designing in hotel rooms whilst I was racing. I wanted to be positive and made clothing for the family cycling club. In 2009 I designed a team range which got a good reaction from journalists, so in 2010 we developed more. The first 2 years were slowly; however, in 2011 Eurosport equipped all their journalists with a G4 contract for clothing. As a next step, we’d like to step into the pro world as a sponsor.
G4 is well known in France and on the pro tour. Our vision is to develop G4 worldwide, like in France where everyone knows about us. We are about style and quality - haute couture for cycling.
Geoffroy and I talked about style in clothing, the need for good kit and the importance of quality when riding, and of ‘looking the part’. Of how people spend a lot of money on their bike, but then fail to wear the right clothing and kit and just don’t look right. We also talked about those people who have as we say in the UK ‘all the gear but no idea’.
Then Geoffroy said something that rings true and made me laugh, summing things up succinctly:
“Even if you can’t be good on a bike, be stylish!”
Designed by and tested by professional riders, it ensures that you’ll finish the ride in the best place possible.
Listening to Geoffroy, this is a man who breathes cycling, with the life of the peloton still running through his veins.
If he brings the same spirit and mental attitude to G4, he’ll easily conquer the world of cycle clothing. And a final tip? Get yourself a cyclocross bike and ride through the winter. You’ll feel the benefit in the spring!