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"My classics was really strong this year and I'd really like to build on that for next year, as you do always every year. This year I felt like 'holy crap, I am here. I am right there with them.'"

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MITCHELL DOCKER

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ORICA-SCOTT

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21.12.2014 @ 14:00 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Since their inception, Orica-Greenedge has prioritised the Cobbled Classics, but they are yet to have much success. One man who has been in the Cobbled team since the start is Mitchell Docker, and he is growing with the team into a real force to be reckoned with. He is looking to improve his Cobbled performances further in 2015.

 

"My classics was really strong this year and I'd really like to build on that for next year, as you do always every year. The thing I noticed this year, for a long time I was there racing on the cusp, but this year I felt like 'holy crap, I am here. I am right there with them.'"

 

"Now it's just that next step of getting there and racing for the result," he explained. "But now I've realised, and maybe it's the confidence, that I can do that now and this year showed me that. Following them at the important parts like across Arenberg or in Flanders leading into the final climbs. It was interesting and I think it's just the build-up of the past few years because you realise, 'shit, I am getting stronger, maybe I am getting wiser and things are starting to fall into place now.'"

 

Docker was strong in all of the races, even recording 25th position in both Roubaix and Dwars door Vlaanderen. He puts art of his development down to the arrival of Matthew Hayman from Team Sky. Hayman has ridden many Cobbled campaigns and has been passing down his vast knowledge to rider like Docker, Hepburn and Durbridge.

 

"I raced really closely with him in the classics. One, just racing with him for advice and two, racing with him as a guy who can win those races changes the way you race," he said. "You have a responsibility then to look after him and feel yourself lift to another level. Mat's always going to be there because he has that experience so you say to yourself 'well I also have to be there' so you make yourself be there. That was a big thing.”

 

"He's a leader and he's, one and off the bike, and not to sound too cliché, he's ticking every box. It's no surprise when you're around him to see why he's been professional and the top of his calliper for the last 12 years. Not everyone can do that and see a lot of guys come into the peloton for four of five years and to do it year after year, you have to be on to. The sports changed so much as well and he had to change with it."

 

2014 was the first time Docker was ever a protected rider in the Classics, albeit along with Hayman and Jens Keukeleire.

 

"Whether I thought I could rise up to it, was a bit of a challenge but all of a sudden when you know you have six other guys riding you, you rise for that occasion. You say to yourself, 'well you know what, I am feeling buggered or whatever but nup. I am here today, I have to do it, I have to get back. I've punctured, this guy's given me his wheel and he's committed his whole race to me.'

 

It wasn’t just on the Cobbles that Docker found himself learning. He spent the first week and a bit of the Giro d’Italia working for riders leading the race overall, which was a new experience for the Australian.

 

"The Giro was also a really great race too but just another step. [Leading the race] That was also another step on top of that looking after the boys with Svein and then especially with Michael which I think put a lot of us in trouble for the second and third week because we went pretty deep in that first week."

 

This helped him prepare for his third Vuelta a Espana in a row, where he again had to protect a GC lead, albeit for a few days less than at the Giro.

 

"I don't ride the front often, it not my strongest attribute but after doing a few hard days on the front at the Giro, I had a new level. When I came to the Vuelta I was ready. You're never able to 100% prepare for those days, they are so solid those days so it was still quite hard."

 

One place Docker may relish racing in next year is the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. There is a cobbled climb on the 16.7km course, which may make Docker a leader of the team there. Although he hasn’t seen the course, he says he would relish the chance to lead the team, although he would be pleased with just being selected in such a strong Australian team.

 

"I haven't really thought about it yet but people have brought it up recently," he said of the Richmond Worlds course. "I don't know the course that well but I think the hill is harder than we all think. I am always up for a Worlds spot no matter what it is. Whether it's a working role or whatever, just to represent my country."

 

"I'll definitely put my had up but what comes with that, sure focusing on the worlds, I am not sure it ever happens like that, you just want to have a good season and if you have a great season, they pick the best riders."

 

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