For the first time in Patrick Bevin’s Tour de France career he will kick off the three biggest weeks in cycling with a real sense of freedom . . . and it’s got him excited. The CCC rider has his eyes set on a first individual stage win for New Zealand, and he’s in great form leading up to it.
RC: First of all it’s so exciting to see you back for the biggest race in professional cycling. How are you feeling heading into your third Tour?
Patrick: I am super excited to be coming back, this one feels a bit different as I was a late call up in my previous 2 so to come in knowing this as been my plan for July all along is a nice feeling, certainly a lot less stressful.
RC: You’ve made no secret that the time trial is a major focus for you. How significant will it be for you to not only be going for a potential first NZ individual stage win, but doing so in the fern as national champion?
Patrick: As weird as it sounds the TT will be the most straightforward, enjoyable day of my Tour de France; no matter what the result. The TT is a pretty straightforward event in what is a bloody big circus!! I really do think that a New Zealander will win a stage soon in the Tour de France and after that we won’t wait long for it to happen more often. I am chasing my own win here but would be ecstatic for any of my fellow kiwis putting a big W on the board first.
RC: You’ve been at the Tour supporting a GC campaign for Rigoberto Uran, you’ve won a team time trial stage with BMC, now this time around is there a sense that you may have the free-est role in terms of opportunities for personal success than ever before?
Patrick: Yes, for sure it’s a much more open looking Tour de France than anything I have experienced. This is the first time I can genuinely say I am excited to be here! It’s pretty hard to explain the stress – both externally from the team and internally from the desire to do your job properly – that comes with racing the Tour de France with a GC rider! Turning up in a team that is hunting a stage win is exponentially more exciting. The atmosphere is relaxed and you are heading into a race trying to get it right once, not avoid getting it wrong for 3500kms.
RC: You and Greg van Avermaet have shown that you can both produce a powerful finishing sprint this season. Will choosing a sprinter be a bit of a flexible process day-by-day or are you heading in with a definite priority there?
Patrick: The priority will be winning from a break, so choosing a sprinter will be ‘the guy in the break’. Outside of that Greg really is the leader of this team, I am sure he will be up for the Belgian stages especially and I will be on deck to help him out in those finishes and look to take my chances later in the race. Hopefully sprinting against 50kg climbers . . .
The Tour de France begins on the evening of 6th July New Zealand time, with stage 1 taking the field on a 194.5km route starting and finishing in Brussels. Patrick is one of three Kiwis racing the Tour de France, racing alongside George Bennett of Jumbo-Visma and Tom Scully of EF Education First.