This season 19-year-old Alastair Carr has swapped university for a place on the French Rémy Meder Haguenau Team in Alsace. He talks about racing and eating on the other side of the channel.
How are you coping living in a different country?
My team-mate Tom [Walters] speaks all the French and I eat all the food. Although at the moment we don?t get out much, so there isn?t that much to cope with, but it?s always a little frightening when they demand: ?Avez vous le carte de fidelité?? at the supermarket. Hopefully when the summer really arrives we can go out and make life hard for ourselves.
What?s the biggest cultural difference you?ve dealt with?
No one speaks the same language as me! Also, never try and use a zebra crossing in France as they mean absolutely nothing. You might as well try and cross a motorway at rush hour when there are a few white lines on the road.
What?s your best experience so far?
That?s a tough one. So far I?ve taken a battering in all of the races I?ve done. So I guess it would have to be the training camp the team took me on to Les Issambres on the Côte d?Azur. I was riding well, just at the wrong time. Apart from that, the beans and bacon on toast I had for breakfast the other day. Delicious.
Is full-time cycling all it?s cracked up to be?
Yes, full-time cycling is great, especially when you don?t have the distractions you have at home. It?s a pretty easy life when you want it to be and so I?d recommend it to anyone willing to give it a shot.
How are you passing your time?
I?d like to say by training but that would be a lie. A lot of time is spent on the computer; I?ve also brought over an old Xbox to help pass a few minutes of each day. If all else fails I usually go and find something to eat.
You?ve been having a difficult time in racing, are you getting closer to consistently finishing?
Well I?d certainly like to think so, but the team do a lot of big races and I?m still having a tough old time of it. Hopefully soon I?ll get a bit of form and blow them all away by winning a chipper, although I?ve yet to ride such a race.
What?s the difference between the UK and French racing?
There are more riders capable of winning. In England a lot of people race to finish in the top 20, whereas here it?s all or nothing. It makes it a lot more aggressive.
And the French teams give you more stuff?
In your average DN2 French team a rider will get a full set of kit, all their race entries paid for, transport to and from races and, if they?re lucky, a bike.
Are you coming back?
I?d like to think not. So far it?s been very tough for me but I have been thrown in at the
deep end. Hopefully things will improve and I?d like to at least give it another year. If not it?s back to the old grind as I have a deferred place at Leeds University to do Fine Art. Hopefully though I can learn to ride a bike as well as I can paint (I can paint by the way).
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A minute with: Alex Paton
A minute with: Simon Gerrans
A minute with: Richard Meadows
A minute with: The Athertons
A minute with: Jonny McEvoy
A minute with: Mark McNally
A minute with: Eamonn Deane
A minute with: Peter Kennaugh
A minute with: Ben Instone
A minute with: David Clarke
A minute with: Tom Barras
A minute with: Greg Roche