[Cyclisme] : "I knew how to seize my chance"


Kevin Geniets is coming out of an extraordinary season. Spurred on from the Continental to the World Tour, the Schifflangeois 23 years seems to have all the future ahead.

While he has just returned from training and has just moved into his new apartment in Aix-les-Bains, Kevin Geniets took the time to look in the retro. Things happened in the space of a few months!

A year ago, almost to the day, you announced your departure from Chambery to join the Continental team of Groupama-FDJ. Why?

Kevin Geniets: Just because I was not progressing anymore. From the national championships, it was obvious that I had to leave if I wanted to have a chance to go pro. Even if I did not know where, I had to leave.

And suddenly, why Groupama FDJ?

I had been a trainee at AG2R and decided that I had to do another season in Continental. But as early as March 2018, Nicolas Boisson came to see me on Ghent-Wevelgem to tell me that if AG2R did not take me, they had a place for me waiting for me. I contacted him again and it happened like that.

At this moment, the World Tour is very far from your mind?

Of course. I set myself the goal of progress and performance. I walked well all winter, I had good feelings. I felt that I was on the right road. But from there to imagine being in World Tour … But that's what will happen.

I was preparing a pizza when someone called to tell me I'm in World Tour

When you heard about the termination of Georg Preidler's contract for doping, did you think we would call on you?

Anyway, I thought they could call someone on the team. We were many to have walked well. So, I calculated my chances up to 10%. I had to prove first that I was back. And after two weeks, we still had no news.

And it's a phone call that will change everything?

Yes. I was leaving Paris-Troyes and as I had a good race, I was in the lounge preparing a pizza when I see that Jens Blatter, the manager of the team, calls me. Generally, when you get a call at 8 pm, that's not good news. There is a problem.

And not at all?

No! He tells me that I was chosen to join the World Tour team and that he was very happy for me. Do you know why you chose? He explained to me that they had thought of me because, according to them, I was the best able to adapt to the World Tour. That I presented the most certainties to take the extra step and continue to perform.

And a few days later, you join your new teammates. How did that happen?

I arrived the day before the Classic Loire Atlantique, I had no clothes, no bike, I did not know anyone. There are a lot of people in the staff. I went to introduce myself and it was gone.

At first, logically, are you the last wheel of the coach?

Yes. At the first briefing, the sports director explains to me that I am the first to have to drive. Once the breakaway quickly left, I rolled until I could not. I had to do a hundred miles ahead before getting on the bus. The guys came to me to congratulate me, it was encouraging.

The sports directors were a little surprised and I, myself, a little surprised. All this allowed me to gradually gain confidence. And to have more and more freedom.

And what are two races that will make you change status?

Yes. I participate with the national team in the Tour of Flanders hopes. I finished eighth, so the team thought I had potential and decided to protect myself for Paris-Camembert. There, I take the eighth place. I was part of a small group that rolled for the victory, I even tried to attack the red flame before being picked up by Benoît Cosnefroy, who won. But I knew how to seize my chance. The sports directors were a little surprised and I, myself, a little surprised. All this allowed me to gradually gain confidence. And to have more and more freedom.

Trust is the key word?

Yes. I was coming out of a difficult year where I had lost a lot of confidence. My first goal was to find her. And then go step by step and show that I had what it takes to be in a final. At that time, I'm on average races. On the Four Days of Dunkirk, I'm here to help Marc (Sarreau) (Editor's note: He finally finished 1st of his team, in 21st place, 1'49 "Mike Teunissen). Then I'm still protected in Plumelec and the next day at the Boucles de l'Alder and I'm 10th and 6th. I show that it was not a fluke.

You go on with the Tour de Luxembourg …

Yes. I was with the national team but I made a tactical mistake. I was happy with my form but not the result.

And in the process, your first World Tour event and not least, since it's the Tour de Suisse?

It was six days after the Tour de Luxembourg, it showed that the team had confidence in me. The World Tour is another world, there are even more people in the staff, it's even better organized, it's perfection everywhere. It rolls very fast in the passes. In mountain World Tour, if you weigh more than 60 kg, you can not do much.

What is your assessment of this first experience?

Positive. I was there to discover, to see how it goes on this level. I was particularly happy with both times (note: 30th and 27th) especially that it is very specific, we are faced with real specialists. And the day I was able to escape, I did it. We were only taken back 5 km from the finish.

Then come the national championships, with the second place behind Bob Jungels?

Yes. Bob was not in a big day, I was in great shape because I was leaving the Tour of Switzerland. One moment, I thought it would be possible to beat him, but he was the strongest.

On the BinckBank Tour, do you see Arnaud Demare for the first time?

It may be a very great champion but at the table, the results are not seen. Everyone is on an equal footing. He is very nice to everyone.

You will then make your biggest move of the season with the races in Quebec. It's nice to fly?

In fact, we always take the plane. Now, I had already participated in the Worlds in the United States, Qatar. People think we are there as a tourist but this is not the case. We arrive, we must recover the time difference, we stay a lot at the hotel. But we have the chance to ride a bike. And discover the country by going out with the bike.

A week later, place at the Worlds. And you decided to perform them at the U23?

Yes. It was planned like that. I will have time to make elite world championships. I went there with ambitions. I was in great shape, but I was not vigilant enough about the race online. I'm caught in a border, I'm the only one in the second group to come back on the first but I used a lot of cartridges and for me, the race was over.

A few weeks later, end of season at Paris-Tours. What are your eyes on this season?

It was a very special year. I arrive in World Tour, I manage to perform, to do pretty races. During the season, you do not realize too much. But once it's over, it makes you want to get started in the 2020 season.

I was looking in all directions, there were only runners we know of TV!

If you are asked for a strong image of this season?

On the BinckBank Tour, the stage of Houffalize. It was very hard, I find myself in the front and I was looking in all directions, there were only runners we know of TV!

The 2020 season was prepared the day after Paris-Tours?

Yes. While many teams prefer to wait for the month of December to talk about the next season, at Groupama-FDJ, it is done before going on vacation. We have interviews, medical tests, a photo shooting, we take your measurements for clothes. All this allows us to focus on training during the internship in December.

During these interviews, were you able to discuss your next season?

Yes. Normally, I will be part of the flanders classics team. And especially the Tour of Flanders, which makes me dream. I should also participate in a Grand Tour. This will most likely be the Vuelta. But all this needs to be clarified in Calpe in December.

What goal do you set for your next season?

I hope to make a good start to the season on the classics. It will be new to me. I want to see what I can do. Where can I go? I want to continue to progress and, why not, to win a race, like a Coupe de France. Last year, I had lost confidence. This year, I found it again. Now I do not set any limits. I want to play the leading roles in the flanders classics in five to six years. But I do not want to grill the steps.

You will be at the end of the contract at the end of this season, you dread it?


Interview with Romain Haas

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