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This interview is part of VitalMTB's Ultimate Guide to the 2013 Enduro World Series

Jerome Clementz is one of the world’s top Enduro riders, with an impressive list of wins under his belt already. Jerome's background covers all disciplines from DH to XC and he’s one of the strongest threats for the EWS 2013 title. Jerome Clementz rides for the Cannondale Overmountain Team.

Jerome Clementz by Jeremy Reuiller

Vital: Tell us a bit about your career – how did you get started, and how has it all evolved?

JC: I started racing mountain bikes in 1996 and was doing XC and DH until 2000. In 2000 I focused on DH with few World Cups, European and World Junior Championships. At this time the only "Enduro" event was the Megavalanche and it was the race I was waiting for all year long.

I got injured in 2003 and couldn't race for a year (broke my scaphoid twice), and when I came back in 2004 there were more races available, like Maxivalanches and the Enduro Series in France. This is what I wanted to do, so that year I combined racing downhill and these kinds of events. From 2005 the Enduro event schedule in France was already full enough to support racing only this discipline. This is the format that most closely fits with my vision of mountain biking so from then on I made Enduro my main goal.

At the beginning we didn't have much support from the brands (mainly free parts), so I was doing other jobs and racing during the weekend. From 2009 it became a bit more international and Cannondale stepped up to support me more, so I was just working in the winter (ski patrol) and racing in the summer. Since 2011 I am a full-time professional racer, traveling to events and developing product.

Vital: So you built your career in several disciplines?

JC: Yes, it happened step by step. I never thought about being a pro rider. I was just enjoying getting more help every year from my sponsors, more interest from the media and more and more people coming into the discipline of Enduro. I started out working a full-time regular job, then only in the winter, then I started my own company and now I focus more on the sport and Pauline [Jerome’s girlfriend and Enduro rider Pauline Dieffenthaler – ed] is taking care of the company.

Vital: Describe how Enduro is perceived in France.

JC: It's quite big in terms of riders and races. There are series everywhere in the country. The strength of the discipline comes from the fact that it’s the local riders and associations that started to organize these events. We don't get much interest from the federation but we managed to grow and make things happen. It's better like this because it's the people who are passionate about the sport who decide where the scene is going and what to do next.

Vital: Describe races/infrastructure at the grassroots level in Enduro in France – are there many races/leagues available, are there many riders at local races, that sort of thing?

JC: On average there are 300 riders at an Enduro event and I can count more than 7 local series in France (Bluegrass Enduro tour, EREC, 1001sentiers, Riders Cup, Trophée des Pyrénées, Trophée du Languedoc-Roussillon, Challenge de Franche-Comté) plus few 1 day events like Portes du Mercantour, Metabief Open Enduro...if you add the big event like the Enduro Series, Megavalanche, Mountain of Hell, Trans-Provence you can see that it's not possible to do all the races. Often there is nothing to win, except a great week on good trails with hundreds of other riders. This is mainly why people come to these races.

Vital: Is this the explanation for why there are so many strong Enduro riders coming out of France today? Or is there another secret ingredient?

JC: I think the French Federation did a really good job with the youth. Until 14 if you want to race you have to do Cross country, Trial and Downhill. That means that after 14 you have all the skills to become a good Enduro rider. If you add the fact that you can race every week end and we have a huge amount of quality singletrack in our mountains, it makes a nice recipe for building good Enduro riders.

Jerome Clementz by Ale Di Lullo

Vital: Is it “enough” for a rider to concentrate purely on the Enduro discipline today?

JC: We start racing in March and we have to fight to take a weekend off any time before November, so yes, I think it's "enough".

Vital: Uplift or pedal up – what should Enduro be in your opinion?

JC: A mix depending on the geography. This makes Enduro more exciting. As long as the stages are good, fun and a nice balance of technical and physical skills it's great.

Vital: Do you feel the new wheelsizes are an advantage in Enduro, or is the riding so technical that the good old 26er is what you need?

JC: Right now, I don't think so. 26, 27.5, 29, you have to pick the bike on which you feel best and shred the trail with this one. Personally at the moment my favorite is 26" but that could change if I can see an advantage with 27.5 or 29.

Vital: Your objectives for the EWS?

JC: Doing my best, racing with friends, having fun, new experiences, and eventually winning some races.

Jerome Clementz by Ale Di Lullo

Jerome Clementz rides for the Cannondale Overmountain Team

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