Text: Foucauld Duchange | Photos: Damien Rigondeaud
While the battle for the first podiums of the season is already under way, we enjoyed a pleasant circuit west of Marseille, in the company of Lucas De Rossi. At 23, this local boy is one of the youngest riders in the Delko-Marseille-Provence team. He lives and trains in Carry-le-Rouet, the family stronghold, located a stone’s throw from the bustle of Marseille. We meet him as he makes a coffee, the sea in the background with his laundry drying on the terrace.
Lucas began with mountain biking. He was wearing the colours of the Aix mountain biking team for a long time before taking to the road. Today, he wants to focus on it 100%. Whether for training or for pleasure, studded tyres are now a thing of the past. A former member of La Pomme Vélo Club, he thought of joining the marines to see the world and now loves his nomadic life as a professional cyclist. If he doesn’t see much of the landscape while racing, the excitement of travelling through so many different places, around 27,000 kilometres per year, is a great reward in itself. There are also the recces. In his first season, Lucas had the opportunity to ride in the Flèche Wallonne. The brutality of the triple series on the Wall of Huy and its famous Criquelion corner is imprinted in his memory, as is the atmosphere on the roads the day before this race that is perfectly suited for ‘punchers’. As for Lucas, he is renowned for his ability to recuperate. This allows him to flourish in races with hilly stages, like the Tour du Doubs, which he would like to take part in again this year.
Despite the bright sunshine, the air temperature is cool. Lucas unveils a pair of overshoes that he didn’t need during pre-season training in Alicante. Riders were riding in shorts there. Enough to make any cyclists riding north of the Mediterranean green with envy… On the menu today: eighty kilometres at a leisurely pace, interspersed with a dozen short sprints. It keeps the body alert, training it to be able to ‘jump start’ if needed during a race.
Despite his relaxed attitude, Lucas’s focus is faultless. What’s the only thing he misses in this life of sacrifices? Cheese and especially raclette. « And I’m not even from Savoie » he laughs, while climbing with a large gear ratio. The proof is he doesn’t indulge often, as, at the beginning of the season, he is only one kilogram off his racing weight. He should be on top form this summer.
Moving on sideways to L’Estaque, as local rap singer Jul would sing, we pass some graffiti, which reads « It’s even more difficult to talk about beauty than happiness. » How can you leave the unique light of the Mediterranean? From the deserted country roads to the inevitable major roads, we follow Lucas hard at work. This is where the fragility of professional riders is striking: they only have the road for training or racing. Lucas De Rossi remains unflappable despite the HGVs overtaking him without even a glance. The sea reappears and we stop to take a picture of him in front of the Côte Bleue, his favourite spot, which extends from Martigues to Marseille.
Back home, we pay a visit to Madame De Rossi, Lucas’s grandmother, who lives next door. While preparing poached eggs laid by her three hens, she tells us of her admiration for all the sacrifices her grandson has made at an age when it would be easy to indulge in the pleasures of youth. Lucas remains unmoved and counts the few hazelnuts that he allows himself to jazz up his salad. As for us, we smother our al dente pasta with a double ration of cheese! Sorry Lucas!
Ride in the tracks of Lucas De Rossi:
From the peaceful port of Carry-le-Rouet, the road climbs up to Le Rove from where you literally « fall » down into L’Estaque. The road takes a pleasant detour to the right to avoid the tunnel before giving you an absolutely stunning view of Marseille. A short climb leads you off the road through the garrigue before arriving in Les Pennes-Mirabeau. Lower your hands on the handle bars and go into time trial mode if you feel like it. In Martigues, another challenge awaits with the Route de Saint-Pierre, which then plunges down into Carro (ideal for a coffee or a treat if needed). All you have to do then is pass along the Côte Bleue to return to the start.
See the ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2125804034