This year ONE Pro Cycling hit the Dubai Tour with a bang. In the face of a host of World Tour outfits that were not about to be messing around, the British ProContinental outfit looked confident, fierce and . . . at home taking their place with the best. We spoke to Kiwi Hayden McCormick about his Dubai experience.
The task was simple, four days in Dubai going up against 123 of some of the world’s best including sprint greats Marcel Kittel of Etixx-Quick Step and Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data; in a field that included ten World Tour teams. It was a line up that included world and Olympic champions a plenty and it became apparent very quickly that ONE Pro Cycling were heading out with the view that the best form of defence against the big World Tour guns . . . would be attack.
And they did it with a grin as Hayden told us, “The team environment all week has been great, I think people wonder why we are smiling so much.” The first day saw Martin Mortensen enter the break, before teammate Christopher Opie shot to 7th place in the sprint finish behind a roaring Kittel. On day 2 Marcin Bialoblocki made his appearance in the break, while the final day was Sebastian Lander’s turn. “We were the only team to make the break every day,” Hayden said.
Yes, we did leave out stage 3, but only briefly; as stage 3 was the day McCormick entered the fray and joined the breakaway action. As Hayden explained it was far from the easiest day to be off the front. “It was a super hard day to be in the break for a few reasons,” Hayden said. “Obviously it was a critical stage for GC on a day where 50/50 of the sprinters make it over the second to last climb and also because we were on a dual carriageway which meant block headwind for 75km of dead straight road and no turns.”
The bulk of Hayden’s company on that day came in the form of Francisco Mancebo of Skydive Dubai, Chun Kai Feng of Lampre-Merida, David Lozano Riba of Novo Nordisk and Andrew Tennant of Team Wiggins; and it was the 28 year old Brit whose company Hayden was particularly grateful for. “I was thankful Andy Tennant was there with me, he’s a great guy and knows how to get the most efficiency out of the break,” he reflected.
McCormick’s presence in the breakaway lasted right the way until the catch was made with 12km to go before the mad dash for the sharp climb to the finish; but beyond that his presence in the move also served to help defend the UAE Intermediate Sprints Jersey of teammate Bialoblocki which the team managed to secure on the final day. The week all in all was a highly successful one for the team, but it also has left them more ambitious than ever. “The team’s really happy with the week, obviously to take a jersey was great but we are still hungry, we want more,” Hayden explained. “The more we learn to race with each other the better it’s going to get.”
Hayden is loving life in his new team and there are a number of things to love about life at ONE Pro. The adjustment to a new organisational structure in his new team is particularly attractive to Hayden, “It’s great being in a team when you know your programme in advance and can train specifically for races. I haven’t had that so much as an U23 rider. It’s nice working closely with coaches towards goals as well,” he said.
From the sun of Dubai, Hayden is now getting prepared to hit the next phase of his season that will see him head for cooler climates after a stint back at base in Girona. “We have recon in Belgium for three days for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, then I have Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne after that and 3 days of West Flanders,” Hayden informed us.
What gets us at RoadCycling so excited about the way the team as a whole is headed, is that if McCormick and ONE Pro Cycling are able to replicate the confidence the team exuded in Dubai then they will find much more success waiting for them. And from what Hayden tells us, there is no sign of the team letting up or slowing down now!