Roger Legeay, French cyclist and mentor of the ŠKODA 24 Hours Cycling of Le Mans, shares with us his best memories of the 24 Hours Cycling, as well as some tips on how to prepare for it. He also presents us a wonderful video of the “Ailes pour Elles” team’s backstage, created by his granddaughters.
1. You have been the mentor of the ŠKODA 24 Hours Cycling since its creation in 2009. Why did you accept this status?
Claude GASNAL, Romain’s father, had the idea of organizing the 24 Hours Cycling on the legendary Le Mans circuit. Claude, a supporter and friend during my career, asked me what I thought of the project. I was immediately enthusiastic because it was probably the only discipline (cycling) that did not have its 24 hours on the circuit. Claude asked me to be the “uncle” of the event, technical advisor, (especially the first year, relay passage, Le Mans type start, life in the pits, etc.) and also to invite prestigious personalities to give the start.
Being a native of Sarthe, I immediately accepted this very nice mission, which his son Romain still entrusts to me and I am very honored.
2. You have competed in all editions, can you tell us your best memory?
There are obviously many memories:
The start of the first edition
The appearance of my friends to give the start, Gérard Holtz, Michel Drucker, Stéphane Roche, Daniel Mangeas, Marc Madiot, Jean-René Bernaudeau etc.
During the 10th edition, I had the honor to give the start
And every year I ride on this mythical circuit with my children, grandchildren, and friends
3. What advice would you give to someone who is new to the event?
The exceptional quality of the organization allows you to let yourself be carried along without stress and to enjoy this lap around the circuit where so many champions have shone. Conviviality and friendship are present at all times: at the campsite, in the pits, and also in the peloton. This allows you to face this competition in the best conditions.
If you are new to the event, it all depends on your level, whether you are a skilled competitor, an experienced cyclotourist, or a novice. But also the number of riders in the team. For the majority of riders, one-hour relays are the norm. You will always find a group of your level that will allow you to do your relays in good conditions. Safety is very important for you and the others. Vigilance must be permanent, ride on the right, overtake on the left, no unnecessary braking, etc.
4. For the past 8 years, you have been riding for road safety “Je double Je m’écarte de 1,50m” with your sons and friends. For the 2022 edition, you have been approached by your daughters-in-law and granddaughters to create the “Ailes pour Elles” team. Can you tell us about the genesis of this team, which brings us this great video?
It’s a great idea that my granddaughters Camille and Marie had. To make a women’s team of 8, with my daughter-in-law, nieces and close friends around them. The name of the team “AILES pour ELLES” in support of the Women’s Foundation is a subject that everyone agrees on: the fight against violence against women.
It was a team of true novices.
For 9 months, at a rhythm of 2 times a week minimum, collective training, with individual advice: learning to ride in a group, to use a derailleur, to familiarize oneself with automatic pedals, to take shelter, to go downhill, to turn, to put oneself in a dancer, to support 2 hours of effort, to climb hills sometimes very difficult, sometimes under the rain, etc.
It was a real great adventure together, with an average speed of more than 28km/h, first in the 8 women category: an unforgettable memory. Certificate in proof.
5. Will you be at the start of the 14th edition on August 26 and 27, 2023? If so, who will be in your team?
Yes, because my granddaughters want to run the ŠKODA 24 Hours Cycling once with their grandfather. So there will be a mixed family team with my son Dimitri, my daughters-in-law Céline and Eliane, and my friends.
Benoit, on the other hand, has decided to try the adventure solo.
To make these participations meaningful, we will support an association that is close to our hearts: “HELP A CHILD in DANO Burkina Faso” https://www.unenfantaparrainer.org