After three seasons in France, Dave Smith, 23, is back in bonnie Scotland and raring to go as part of a new UCI Continental squad, Endura Racing.
Do you feel a bit like a forgotten man?
A little bit. I haven’t raced a full season in the UK since 2005; the last three seasons have been spent in France.
Where were you?
I was with Vaulx-en-Velin, based near Lyon. They are a big club and they have produced around 50 pros over the years; Christophe Moreau and Samuel Dumoulin are both products of the team.
What was your best performance with them?
I grabbed a couple of podiums in elite races and I was 18th in the espoirs’ Paris-Tours. At the end of 2007 I was starting to get good results and was rarely out of the top 10. Unfortunately I slipped a disc in the gym over the winter and it took until June of last year to get rid of the pain.
Who do you regard as the current big hitters in France among the amateurs?
Benoit Luminet in hilly races and Jeremy Derange in sprints; they could both be good pros but prefer to stay at home. Luminet was a pro but didn’t like the lifestyle.
Why come back?
I’m 24 in July and once you’re out of the espoirs ranks – especially if you’re foreign – it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a contract.
Do you miss the French bakers?
Yeah, the bread here is terrible!
What about French TV?
We had digital so it wasn’t so bad, but I actually think that news on French TV is better. There’s a lot less gloom, doom and sensationalism.
You come from Thurso, yet have an English accent?
My mum is from Nottingham. I work as a barman up in Thurso and a lot of the punters think I’m an Aussie!
What about Endura?
I’ve always kept in touch with Gary [Hand] and I was telling him that I was thinking about stopping – he just kept saying: “Don’t do anything hasty!”
Are you still supported by the Braveheart Fund?
Not this year; I’ve been supported since 2004; it’s been a big help.
What’s your role in the team?
Mark Young, our coach, monitors our form through the TrainingPeaks computer system, so he’ll be looking at who’s going well going into races and deciding based
And will you be swearing at other riders in French or English?
In the heat of the moment, probably French!