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

“You are competing in the French Championship road race 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 of Occitania, 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 have been training on these roads for years.

And the goal?
It’s a one-day race, anything is possible. It will be a long day (240 km) but there are many chances that you will end up 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 exit without believing it is useless. We want to go for the title.

Especially because you’re in good shape, you’re doing your best season as a professional. What conclusions do you draw from this?
It is very positive. I didn’t think I would be able to get results with professionals. 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 that left me on the sidelines for a while. But now all this is behind me and I have come back stronger. Since then, something has been unlocked, physically, psychologically and I started to win. At Saint Michel-Auber 93 we are a real team of friends, super accomplices. It is truly 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 now I am deep in thought. I am in contact with 4-5 Continental Pro and World Tour teams (2nd and 1st division). It’s not easy to choose, 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, be relaxed and get the best results possible.

“I’d like a train, guys able to land as close to the line as possible in big races”

Could you go abroad?
Some of the teams I talk to are foreigners. But it’s too early, I don’t feel capable. I’m not saying I won’t go there one day, but for now, priority to French teams. And then I know myself very well. I wouldn’t go to a World Tour team trying to make the summit make me sick. Cycling is my passion but I love life, I love people. Dedicating my life exclusively to cycling is not my view of things and I don’t think I’m doing well in this scenario. What will act in my choice will be the feeling with the directors and the role they will promise me within the team.

And what role do you expect?
I really want to have a place for a sprinter. Not necessarily the first one, 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 able to land me as close to the line as possible in big races. I am able to sprint solo. But on the other hand, I’m not really capable of being a pilot fish.

Because ?
I did very little. When I didn’t feel able to win, I grabbed the board by my teammates, but that’s not mine. Leading a sprint is not being a sprinter. Bearing qualities are needed, to be able to hold 300 meters. My strength is sucking in the last few meters. Sprint is a mindset, anger needs to outweigh any other feeling. You need to know how to disconnect the brain so as not to be afraid when rubbing. I find it hard to make a “plot.” Obviously, if I have to throw someone away tomorrow I will, even if only to return the favor. But these are two different professions.

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

You will discover the maximum level at the age of 25 next season, you have a very linear progression.
Yes, I really went through all the levels. I started at my grandfather’s club, GPC Angevin, when I was three and a half, like my sisters. I immediately got up and I liked the competition, I didn’t come to play. Then I continued, junior, minimum, cadet, I was starting to be more professional. I did the CREF in La Roche-sur-Yon in high school. I was able to follow my school and sports projects with arranged schedules in the anteroom of the U Vendée. When I left, I started in the third amateur division in the Vallet (Loire-Atlantique) before joining the Sojasun Espoir. So I spent over three years as an amateur before becoming a professional 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 with my bike, I put things in perspective.”

Financially, how did you manage?
It was not easy. As fans, they don’t pay us, so we manage as best we can. I come from an average family, with money problems like many French. When I chose cycling after professional high school and my technical-commercial BTS, I worked for three years in a mall to pay for my flat, my food, like everyone else. I also delivered nightly newspapers. It’s work, extra fatigue when you’re going to train afterwards. But it is totally positive. I know what it’s like to work in the factory, so when I have to go cold training, all alone with my bike, I put things in perspective and I’m happy to live off my passion.

For others, the explosion is much faster.
Is true. When you see Evenepoel, Pogacar … They are a year or two younger than me and they win everything, they are real champions. I am not a champion. Nature gives to each other and not to others, I struggle with what I have even if I don’t feel sorry for it! I live from my passion. We see it exploding more and more soon, but I think cycling is still a late sport. Ten years ago, the boys had a 13-14 year career. Will the 20-year-olds who are already at the top do it? 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 had to do. »

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