Dan McConnell of Australia will be part of their seven-man lineup for the Tour Down Under in January. McConnell races for the Trek Factory Racing XC program which, same as the UCI ProTour team, is owned and managed by Trek Bicycle.
McConnell finished the 2014 season on a high note, placing third overall in the XC World Cup, and taking the start in Australia’s only WorldTour event will give him an intense and early boost to the 2015 season.
McConnell: “This is super exciting for me. I participated in TDU back in 2006 with Team South Australia. It was incredibly hot, but more than anything I remember the crowds in and around Adelaide; they were just phenomenal.
“Mountain bikers spend quite a bit of time on a road bike, especially when we build endurance in the months before the World Cup season starts in May. At this time of the year, I probably ride 70 percent of the time on my Trek Domane,” says McConnell. “Of course, a 90 minutes maximum effort with an average heart rate of over 180 is very different than a 150km stage with a sprint at the end. It’s sort of hard to know where I’ll be. At the national road championships I go pretty well, and that’s on a hilly course.”
For Team Manager Luca Guercilena, McConnell’s selection is one of many benefits of factory management between two world-class programs. “Trek owns a handful of cycling teams, and they all compete under the Trek Factory Racing umbrella. These crossover projects are very valuable. Grégory Rast rode a cyclocross race the other day, and Sven Nys swaps cyclocross for mountain bike and road cycling in summer.”
TFR cross-country manager Jon Rourke agrees: “When Dan approached me with this idea, I thought it was great. Luca was receptive too, so we didn’t have to push this down anybody’s throat.”
McConnell isn’t the first mountain biker to ride on the road, temporarily or in a more definite way. “The unique element is that Trek owns both programs, which allows for a much more seamless participation of riders into either disciplines without major hassles or sponsorship conflict worries,” says Rourke. “Some people might say ‘Oh boy, here’s another mountain biker going on the dark side’, but Dan still loves the dirt, and this race works into his favor for his mountain bike schedule. We support this opportunity and know Dan is fully committed to mountain bike racing – especially as he prepares for the Olympic Games in Rio2016. It’s nice that these mountain bikers get to drop in and have fun and then go back. At the end of the day, we all love to ride bikes: road or mountain.”
“This is a great opportunity for all parties involved,” agrees Team Manager Luca Guercilena, who has a background as a performance coach. “I saw Dan’s power output numbers and I’m curious to see how Dan will fare in a stage race on the road. A mountain bike race is a highly anaerobic event, significantly more so than road racing, but there are similarities. Especially when it comes down to climbing it will be interesting. It’s more an individual effort, a bit like a time trial, and Dan can produce consistent high power for a long period of time, so I’d say the climbing stages will be favorable for him.”
Trek Factory Racing’s lineup for the 2015 Tour Down Under:
Eugenio Alafaci (Italy)
Marco Coledan (Italy)
Laurent Didier (Luxembourg)
Daniel McConnell (Australia)
Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy)
Hayden Roulston (New Zealand)
Calvin Watson (Australia)