Whilst the Pro Tour marches on at the Dauphine and the Tour de Suisse, the ‘other’ races just keep taking care of business. Take the 2.1 Delta Tour Zeeland in The Netherlands, the overall went to Garmin fast man, Tyler Farrar, but the strong man from Washington State didn’t have it all his own way; stage one saw a break through win for Skil’s 23 year old Aussie, Mitchell Docker. The man from Melbourne took time to talk to Pez a day or two after his victory.
PEZ: You were a strong track rider, Mitchell – why not go down that route ?
I tried the track when I was a bit younger, and was lucky enough to go to the world championships in Mallorca, Spain. After those championships, I had achieved the level I had aimed too, with track always being just a stepping stone for going to the road.
PEZ: How did the SKIL contract come about ?
With my old Australian team, Drapac-Porsche I was able to race in Europe for a couple of months of the year. During these months I was able to catch the eye of the Skil directors in kermesse races in Belgium with some small results. After this I went on to ride the Tour de L’Avenir, with the UCI mix team where I got a nice result at the right time; the the rest is history.
PEZ: Farrar and Brown – big scalps – talk us through that sprint in the Delta Tour, please.
Well, after Farrar’s team pulled for the final intermediate sprint they split the race apart. I had a good position in the peloton and knew with a group of 12 we needed one there from our team. Only after the group really established I started to think about the sprint. Mainly I was hoping to just get myself some bonus seconds on the finish line. With this in mind I sat behind the Garmin train, where first Tyler Farrar pushed in front of me followed by Graeme Brown (Rabobank). So coming into the sprint I was sitting behind Brown who was on Farrar. When they started to sprint I was expecting to only be able to follow their wheels, but when the line was close I realised I had enough speed to pop around them at the last minute. It was amazing to come up the side of guys like that when they were sprinting.
PEZ: Halle-Ingooigem, you were second in 2009, that’s a big race.
Halle for me is the Australian championships in Europe. It’s really close to the championship date of Europeans and there are always a lot of Australian guys on the start line, with my old team Drapac- Porsche starting the last 3 years. It was one of my first big races in Europe when I came across with Drapac in 2007, and since then I have looked forward to riding it each year. The terrain is not too difficult and the weather is nice then.
PEZ: What’s your favourite type of race ?
Actually this year I was really looking forward to Delta Tour. I remembered from last year that the course was nice and flat and the second day was like a mini classic. I guess I like the races from the early part of the year with the small hills and cobble stones, but also this time of year is good when a stage race has a lump or too.
PEZ: Was being a continental pro always the dream ?
Becoming Professional in Europe was always the dream. Looking at photos of the classics made me determined to get to Europe and race across some of those famous roads.
PEZ: Where’s home in Holland ?
I live up in Alkmaar most of the time, but when the racing period is heavy down Belgium way or a big training block is necessary I stay sometimes with a team mate in Kelmis, in the Belgian Ardennes.
PEZ: Do you go back to Australia for the winter ?
Yeah of course. I look forward to it pretty much once I get over here in Europe. I really love to get home and enjoy some time with my family and friends during the off season. I also think it is perfect for preparation to the season, the weather is great, some good guys to train with and the training ground is the one I grew up on.
PEZ: How’s the ‘Dutch’ coming along ?
PEZ: What was the hardest thing to adapt to in Holland ?
The weather for sure, I really can’t believe how much it rains here. It’s tough to call the last month here summer.
PEZ: The best thing about Holland ?
Queens day in Amsterdam…I’m not sure the team knows but last year I was able to get up there with my girlfriend for Queens Day. It’s a crazy festival day with thousands of people in the streets of the city.
PEZ: The strangest thing about Holland ?
How much cheese people eat.
PEZ: What’s your role in the team ?
Often with our team in the big races its very important to be in the escape. So most of the time during the classics I am that crazy guy at the beginning of the race trying to get up the road. I am happy now that the stage races have started that my role has changed a bit from last year. I have had a few small opportunities to sprint for myself in the bunch sprints when our normal sprinter were not there. It has been good to lift my confidence and proven here in Delta.
PEZ: The team must have been very disappointed not to ride the Giro or Tour ?
Yeah it was annoying. I think we had a nice team for the Tour this year, everyone who rode last year seemed to have stepped up a lot and a few of the new guys where really impressive so . . yeah it was annoying.
PEZ: How are things looking for the Vuelta ?
For me…I think better now. It has been in the back of my mind ever since the team said they wanted to ride it, but I think it’s more important to see if the team gets a start first. (Editor: They unfortunately didn’t)
PEZ: Am I imagining it or have you lost quite a bit of weight over last winter ?
Umm, not necessarily weight but I think maybe I got rid of some of the ‘puppy fat’ and grew some muscles. Maybe it was the winter or just my first season in the legs. Of course its a never ending process watching the weight but mostly the racing takes care of it.
PEZ: Will you be following Aus in the World Cup ?
Yeah for sure, I have been speaking a lot with team mates Robert Wagner and Simon Geschke about the first game, who is going to win, Germany v Australia. It’s great how much everyone is into it over here.
It was bad news for Mitchell down in South Africa, Aussie lost 4-nil; but he has that stage win to keep him smiling. With thanks again to Mitchell and Bennie Ceulen, Skil’s press officer.