It’s not often we have a World Tour rider training and racing in Scotland; but in Australian, Michael Storer that’s exactly what we had in 2018 when the 2021 Vuelta double stage winner and King of the Mountains rode and won races like the John Gordon Memorial and Drummond Trophy here in Auld Scotia.
The then Team DSM and now Groupama FDJ professional spent time with his girlfriend in Glasgow, who was studying at Glasgow University.
One of his training partners during his Scottish sojourn was roadman, Alex MacRae – runs up into the Campsies and along Loch Lomond side.
Alex is a friend of VeloVeritas amigo, Harry Tweed and it was Harry who suggested we hook up with Michael and duly connected us with the 25 years-old from Sydney.
The Aussie has come a long way since he won the Australian Novices Time Trial Championship in 2013 to where he’s now a Grand Tour double stage winner with his first Tour de France ride on the horizon.
His Tour preparation suffered a bit of a ‘blip’ in recent weeks when a fever prevented him from starting Stage One of the Tour of Romandie but he hopes to back for the final Tour preparation race, The Criterium du Dauphine.
Here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas, recently:
Tell us how you got into the sport, Michael.
“I am an active person so I already played a few sports, such as football and athletics.
“My brother started competing in triathlons and then cycling which introduced me to the sport.
“It was actually 2020 Giro stage winner and GC runner-up, Jai Hindley’s dad who really convinced me to try racing.”
You were originally known as a time trial rider, National Novice Champion and third in the Junior Worlds – with a certain Pippo Ganna 4th – was it a conscious decision not to specialise or just the way things worked out?
“It’s just the way things worked out.
“For time trialling it’s more about raw power and aerodynamics – and I’m just too small for it.”
Aussie National Junior Road Race Champion in 2015 – a corner turned?
“Yes, it was important for being selected for the U23 national team the next year.
“Those kind of results kept me on the pathway.”
A win in the GP Poggiana in 2016 it’s not easy to win u23 in Italy…
“That was a really nice victory and a fond memory.
“It also made me really start to consider the possibilities of a pro contract.”
Tell us about the Belgian VL Technics Experza Abutriek team in 2016.
“They were a backup option in case I didn’t get into the Australian U23 national team.
“Unfortunately the selections for the national team were made very late, in January or February whilst most U23 European teams finalise their rosters as early as November the previous year.
“I didn’t want to be left without a team.”
Mitchelton Scott continental in 2017 – that might have been expected to lead to a World Tour team place?
“Not necessarily; the World Tour teams don’t select every rider from their development team to become full professionals.”
You were 3rd in the Valle d’Aosta in 2017, that race is a real ‘shop window’ for the pro team talent scouts – was that the one that caught the Sunweb team’s eye?
“My performances at Tour Down Under and the Herald Sun Tour where I was second in the young riders’ classification in both races that year caught their eye; Aosta confirmed that they should consider signing me.”
Pro for 2018 and the Vuelta as a neo-pro, tell us about that experience please?
“It was very challenging for me, my goal was simply to finish the race.”
Season 2021 saw you ride the Giro and Vuelta; that seemed to suit you in what was your ‘breakthrough’ year?
“It was a breakthrough year, yes.
“I had been getting closer and closer to the level need to win and I finally had a good run of training and it all fell into place.”
Tell us about that Tour de l’Ain win last year please.
“It was really special because it was my first pro victory.
“For a few years I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to win a race at the elite level so it was the culmination of the hard work done the years before.”
The 2021 Vuelta is where you really confirmed, two stage wins and king of the mountains, tell us about that race please.
“The Vuelta really suits me, the breakaway often has more success and I’m typically used to riding in hotter conditions.
“Firstly we tried with our French team leader, Romain Bardet for the GC but when he lost time we switched goals to going for stage results.
“The KoM jersey started to become relevant later in the race, I wasn’t targeting it at all earlier on.
“But being in breakaways I passively then actively started to collect points.”
How much of a wrench to leave DSM after four years?
“I wanted to try something different.”
How does the French mentality at Groupama FDJ compare to the Dutch at DSM/Sunweb?
“There’s more flexibility for every aspect at Groupama FDJ.
“For example this could include tactics and coaching.
“Overall the French approach empowers the athlete and team to be the best they can, rather than only empowering the support staff and limiting the riders’ involvement in the process.”
The illness that kept you out of Romandie, are you confident you’ll be back for the Dauphine?
“I hope so.”
You’re riding le Tour, you must be looking forward to that – a boyhood dream?
“I am really looking forward to it.
“I always wanted to do every Grand Tour but the Tour de France is the one that road cycling is best known for.”
And finally, tell us about the Michael Storer ‘Scottish connection.’
“I ended up in Scotland by chance because my girlfriend did her degree at the University of Glasgow.
“During that time I briefly got to know an amazing city and friendly people too, both in and out of the cycling community.
“The only thing I don’t miss is the cold!”