Jason Tesson: “I proved that I had my place as a professional”

Jason Tesson: “I proved that I had my place as a professional”

“You are competing in the road race of the French Championships almost at home on Sunday. How do you feel ?
How are you. I’m in a hurry to be there and I want to do well. Since my return from the Tour d’Occitanie, I have been finishing my preparation at my parents’ house, 30 minutes from Cholet. The race will have a special flavor in front of my family and friends. I’ve been training on these roads for years.

And the goal?
It’s a one day race, anything is possible. It’s going to be a long day (240 km) but there’s a good chance it will end in a sprint. When I won the French Amateur Championship in 2020, I was in average shape but I found the hole, I was able to do my sprint and it worked. So anything is possible. And anyway, if you take the start without believing it is useless. We want to go for the title.

Especially since you are in good shape, you are having your best season as a professional. What conclusions do you draw from this?
It’s very positive. I didn’t think I would be able to get results with the pros. I saw it more as a dream. My first year and a half was complicated, I had to get into it, it’s still another level. And then I had a big iron deficiency at the start of the season which put me on the sidelines for a while. But now all of that is behind me and I came back stronger. Since then, something has been unblocked, physically, psychologically and I started to win. At Saint Michel-Auber 93 we are a real team of friends, super accomplices. It is really the fruit of my victories, of our victories.

Is it a milestone?
Clearly. I proved that I had my place as a professional. All I want now is to keep winning, in even higher level races.

And that goes through a change of team.
Yes, and I’m deep in thought right now. I am in contact with 4-5 Continental Pro and World Tour teams (2nd and 1st division). It’s not easy to make a choice but it will be done in the summer. I want to be able to run at the end of the season without worrying about my future, to be relaxed and get the best possible results.

“I would like a train, guys capable of landing as close as possible to the line on big races”

Could you go abroad?
Some of the teams I talk to are foreign. But it’s too early, I don’t feel capable of it. I’m not saying that I won’t go one day, but for the moment, priority to the French teams. And then I know myself very well. I wouldn’t go to a World Tour team that aims for the top to make me sick. Cycling is my passion but I love life, I love people. Devoting my life exclusively to cycling is not my vision of things and I don’t think I can perform well in this scenario. What will act on my choice will be the feeling with the directors and the role that I will be promised within the team.

And what role do you hope for?
I really want to have a sprinter’s place. Not necessarily the first, that would be pretentious, I haven’t done any World Tour races yet. So second or third sprinter. What I would like is a train, guys capable of landing me as close as possible to the line on big races. I am able to sprint solo. But on the other hand, I’m not really capable of being a pilot fish.

Why ?
I did very little. When I didn’t feel able to win, I took to the plank for my teammates, but that’s not my thing. Leading a sprint is not being a sprinter. It takes rolling qualities, being able to hold on for 300 meters. My strength is to squirt in the last meters. The sprint is a mentality, it is necessary that the rage to overcome any other feeling. You have to know how to unplug the brain so as not to be afraid when it rubs. I find it difficult to make a “plot”. Obviously, if tomorrow I have to throw someone I will, if only to return the favor. But these are two different professions.

Jason Tesson in the blue-white-red tunic of the 2020 French amateur champion. (E. Garnier / L’Équipe)

You will discover the highest level at 25 next season, you have a very linear progression.
Yes I really went through all the levels. I started in my grandfather’s club, GPC Angevin, when I was three and a half, like my sisters. I immediately joined and liked the competition, I did not come to play. Then I went on, junior, minimal, cadet, it was starting to become more professional. I did the CREF in La Roche-sur-Yon in high school. I could follow my school and sports projects with schedules arranged in the antechamber of the Vendée U. When I left, I started in the third amateur division in Vallet (Loire-Atlantique) before joining Sojasun Espoir. So I did more than three years as an amateur before turning pro with Saint Michel.

“I know what it’s like to work in the factory, so when I have to train in the cold, all alone on my bike, I put things into perspective”

Financially, how did you manage?
It was not easy. As an amateur, we are not paid so we manage as best we can. I come from an average family, with money problems like many French people. When I chose cycling after my professional baccalaureate and my technical-commercial BTS, I worked for three years in a shopping center to pay for my apartment, my food, like everyone else. I delivered night papers too. It’s work, extra fatigue when you go to training afterwards. But it’s totally positive. I know what it’s like to work in the factory so when I have to go training in the cold, all alone on my bike, I put things into perspective and I’m happy to make a living from my passion.

For others, the explosion is much faster.
It’s certain. When you see Evenepoel, Pogacar… They are one or two years younger than me and they win everything, they are real champions. I am not a champion. Nature gives to some and not to others, I fight with what I have even if I am not to be pitied! I live from my passion. We see it exploding earlier and earlier, but I think that cycling remains a late-maturing sport. Ten years ago, guys had 13-14 year careers. Are 20-year-old guys who are already at the top going to do that? I am not convinced. In any case for me, it would not have been a gift. As in all trades, you have to go through the stages and that’s what I needed to do. »

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