Talkingshop: Raleigh’s Frenchstar Alex Blain


Winner of the Dengie Marshes and CiCLE Classic off/on road races in 2012, Frenchman Alexandre Blain is excited to be with another British team, Raleigh, after three seasons with Endura Racing.

Related Link: (exclusive VeloUK feature)  Raleigh 2013 Team Launched in Nottingham

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Resplendent in his MOA new look Raleigh kit and with a French teammate in Eric Berthou alongside him, Alex Blain (below left) was as always, excited about the season ahead as he spoke exclusively to VeloUK.

“Something new is always exciting” he said prior to the team launch. “It’s a new project with me racing again in the UK where I am familiar with the UK riders and how the racing works. I have a new team in Raleigh with new races to win and so I am really happy with that.”

The former Cofidis rider who comes from the Aix-en-Provence area of Southern France had some big wins in 2012 with Endura Racing to follow up the wins in 2011 that included the Tour of Normandy. The races that seem to put the fire in Alex’s racing are those that take in a bit of the rough stuff, and last year he certainly had the gas fire turned up as he won two of the three he was aiming to win, Dengie Maldon Tour and the CiCLE Classic. The third that escaped him due to a puncture was Tro-Bro Léon in France.


Alex Blain forcing the pace on the Somerberg section of the CiCLE Classic ahead of a Raleigh rider in Jamie Sparling who’s retired to become a financial adviser. 

“These races really suit me so every year it is a big goal to always do well in those kind of races. This year’s programme is similar to the one I have had for the last few years so I am really focused on bringing victories to the team. I am also looking forward to the Tour Series and Premier Calendar races and hopefully some new races in France in the French Cup.”

Asked if the circuit racing that we have so much of here was a very British thing, Alex, winner of a round of the Tour Series in Southport a few years ago, smiled and replied “it’s very very British!”

“Pro crits are very organised in France so it’s very different”. For me, it’s like a different sport between track and road cycling. If you are doing the Tour Series, you really need to be prepared and focused on that type of racing. It’s not something you can just rock up to and play with. For sure, I would be happy to ride the Tour Series if I am in the Tour Series team.”

2013_Raleigh Team

Alex (left) with the rest of a very strong Raleigh team for 2013.

Asked if the brand Raleigh was well known in France where the name Peugeot was very big in the sport many decades ago, Alex replied “Raleigh is famous everywhere and in France too. When I have told my old friends I will sign for Raleigh, they were excited and saying ‘I remember Raleigh when Joop Zoetemelk won the Tour de France in 1980 so yes, they remember the name Raleigh. I also remember when I was a kid the Raleigh cruiser bmx bikes!”

With his wins for the Endura Racing team, Alex was a rider many expected to be part of the new NetApp-Endura team but at the end of the season, he learned his name was not part of the roster for the German-Scottish team but there were plenty of options for him and one of those was Raleigh.

“I signed for Raleigh at the beginning of October so I didn’t have long to think about which team I would ride for. This meant I was able to chill out during my three weeks holiday and already had a plan in my head. That made it easier to start my winter training with this new project in my head.”


Alex Blain wins the Maldon Dengie Tour organised by the late Alan Rosner. Sadly, the event is not being held in 2013.

Coming from southern France, surely the weather there is a far cry from that in Britain? ‘Non’; it seems that even where Alex trains, the weather has not been kind! “It wasn’t the best winter for many years” he explained. “It is okay though because being close to the Mediterranean Sea, even if it is raining, it is not so cold. We didn’t have snow and if we did, that would be in the mountains so we can train on the coast. Where I am, you can train well every winter.”

It was far cry from that when Alex was in Nottingham with the side streets covered in snow and cars and people sliding around on the ice. Asked if there was a big ‘chaingang’ to train with where he lived, Alex replied “’Non’, I always train with a few friends including some triathletes who share the long rides with me. I also have two or three sparing partners who help me with my training programme and push me hard on the climbs and in the sprints. They are amateurs but always ready to race me when training! My best training friend though is probably my power metre!”

Expecting there to be plenty of pros to train with, Alex replied ‘non’ again adding that maybe during November and December when there was plenty of steady riding to be done to maintain the form but once the training camps and races begin, everyone disappears to different places in the world.


Alex Blain with his Bioracer CiCLE Classic winner’s jersey being congratulated by former pro Gary Sadler.

Looking back at 2012 and asked about highlights, Alex explained “the month between April and May was the best with wins in Dengie Marshes and the CiCLE Classic. I was well prepared and in good form and looking to win the three off road races, Dengie, CiCLE and Tro-Bro Léon but I had some bad luck in Tro-Bro Léon.”

“I was close in that race for a podium but I punctured in the last five k.”

Alex added that he felt his form was quite consistent throughout the year and was pleased with his ride in the French UCI 2.2 stage race, La Mi-Août en Bretagne where he had three thirds, Stage 1 & Stage 4 plus third overall”.


Alex is pleased to have a ride with Raleigh in an economic climate which sees many riders out of a job adding that getting a team in France is no better than it is here in Britain “It’s the same in France and is a bad winter for riders searching for a team”.

Alex added how even in France there are a lot of good riders retiring or going back to the amateur ranks but that losing a job is not just something happening to pro bike riders but is a problem for people throughout society.

Thankfully for the fans of racing, Alex did find a place in an excellent team and we can only hope we see the same exciting riding we saw from him in 2012 … if so, the season here in Britain will be all the better for having the Frenchman in a very British team …

Thanks to Alex for his time.


2012 and Alex Blain goes on the attack as the race hits the gravel in the Dengie Maldon Tour …


2010 and its a very French win for Alex Blain in Southport in the Tour Series


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