We’ve been lucky enough to get to know a few of the teams during our first week on Tour. Fantastic to get some insight from the riders themselves; the race, their preparations and a bit on what goes on behind the scenes.
Here, we had a quick chat with Mitchelton-Scott’s, Michael Hepburn. Michael – most commonly referred to as ‘Heppy’ is currently taking on his debut Tour de France.
The 26 year old, Brisbane born rider has been with the team since their inception and throughout his professional career has balanced his ambitions between the road and the track. He now carries a nice collection of Olympic and World Championship medals and since the 2016 Olympics has returned to full focus on the road.
Time Trial and Team Time Trial are his specialities, as well as his strengths as a committed domestique for the now highly GC focussed squad, backing the Yates brothers.
What does it mean to be riding your first Tour de France?
The Tour de France is the first bike race I ever heard of and I remember as a teenager watching TDF DVD sets for hours on end with my brother, so to finally be racing here is something quite special. There are a lot of races on the calendar right now but every rider is desperate to ride the Tour at some stage in their career.
You’re no Grand Tour stranger, having ridden the Giro d’Italia 4 times. How does the Tour (so far) compare to the Giro and/or other races?
It’s still early days in this race, but already you can feel the Tour is something different. Everyone’s shape is a little better, everyone’s a little more desperate for a result and that’s resulted in some hectic finishes with the finals starting a long way out. Sports fans from all around the world are looking at the Tour in July and it easily feels bigger than any other race.
The Team Time Trial was a real target for Mitchelton-Scott and you personally, being a big strength of yours. Well done on a great result, despite a few of the guys being a bit banged up from crashes the day prior. Were you satisfied with the performance?
All in all I think we can be really satisfied with our ride in Stage 3. We were involved in some crashes in the first two stages and unfortunately some of our big TTT drivers came down and banged themselves up. That’s racing and some other teams were in the same boat, but in the end we put in a really solid collective ride. We weren’t far off the front and of course winning would have been a magical feeling for us but we didn’t lose much time at all for Adam in the GC so we can be proud with the result.
What do you hope to achieve over the next few weeks before heading into Paris?
The main objective for us this year in the Tour is a result with Adam in the GC. We have some guys that are capable of going for a stage win at some stage but the primary focus is the GC. It’s a really well rounded team of domestiques, so we’ll be looking to support him whenever possible. A lot can happen in 3 weeks and from what we’ve already seen there’s never a dull day or moment to lose concentration.
Who’s your room mate on Tour? And don’t you get sick of each other after a while?!
I’m in the room with Mat Hayman here. He’s probably sick of me joking about his age but there are no problems from my side!
Cheekiest on the team?
At this Tour, Daryl Impey. Dazz is always good for a laugh and doesn’t mind geeing people up.
Anyone of us after we’ve had a filthy day or hit the deck. The 3rd week of a Grand Tour is when you really see people’s personalities.
Most craved meal during a Grand Tour?
Patatas Bravas or a good burger. Luckily for us our chef Nicki is quite creative and will often spoil us with nice meals.
Miss (from home) the most?
Loved ones and my coffee machine.
Most looking forward to post TDF?
Not having to work off a schedule. Waking up when I want, eating when I want (not eating rice or pasta), having some super relaxed days and catching up with close friends from home.
We know you’re only 26, Heppy but do you think one day when you retire you’ll join Stuey and the guys on some Mummu Cycling tours? 😉
If I don’t have to suffer up the climbs – for sure!
Thanks for the chat Heppy and all the best for the final few weeks of your debut Tour!