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Content to use the current period to add to his experience and to build strength, Australian rider Nathan Earle has said that he hopes to ride his first Grand Tour this season and then go on to bigger targets down the line.
“I think I can see myself as a one-day sort of rider in the future,” said Earle, speaking to CyclingTips on the morning of the final stage of the Tour de Langkawi.
“Not Roubaix style stuff, but the one days like the Ardennes Classics, San Sebastian. Those sorts of rides are the sort of races I like.
“I don’t think I will be a GC guy. I can climb but I can’t climb with the best of them. I think I am more of a punchy climber. I still have a bit of a sprint on me and down the track I’d really like to specialise in the one day races and also be a super-domestique for the big guys in the tours.”
Asked if that meant he saw himself as someone who could become a rider like Simon Gerrans, he agreed. “Yeah, I think similar. He is pretty classy – whether I can be exactly like him [remains to be seen], but definitely I see myself as a similar type of rider to him.”
Now 26 years of age, Earle has just began his second season in Europe as part of the WorldTour. He raced with the Australian Praties team until the end of 2013, taking victories in the New Zealand Cycle Classic, the Tour of Toowoomba and the Santos North West Tour that year as well as top five finishes in the Tours of Kumano, Taiwan and Borneo.
Those performances helped him secure a slot with the Sky team. He’s previously said that year one was tough at times, but feels better about his 2015 season and what lies ahead.
“Last year was difficult with the experience and everything. But I just wanted to try and be as consistent as possible,” he said. “Obviously coming into a team like this I am just riding a support role most of the time.
“This year obviously I will just be looking at doing the same, but I will be trying to be consistent all year with the support that I give.”
Making the step up to WorldTour level was a big jump for Earle and was always going to take time to adjust. He’s feeling better about things with one year behind him.
Asked if he felt more confident, he was clear this is the case. “Definitely. I learned a lot last year. It was a big step up so this year I have a bit more confidence and experience. Obviously knowing the guys a lot better as well makes for a more comfortable environment for me.
“This year I will be looking to try and do well somewhere. You never know [when it will be]…when you are in good form and giving support for other guys, you always have you own opportunities pop up as well here and there. So I just have to be ready to take those opportunities this year.”
”There is no reason why I can’t have a good Liège”
Thus far Earle has ridden the Australian national championships and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean road race, placing 18th and 22nd respectively, then riding the Tour of Oman and the Tour de Langkawi. He helped team-mate Sebastian Henao to third overall in the latter.
“I haven’t done a great deal of racing, but it’s so far, so good,” he said. “I don’t know a lot about my programme. I am pretty sure I am doing Coppi-Bartali, Liège, then Tour of California again. From there I am not really sure.
“I did Liège last year. I really enjoyed it. I will be coming from Coppi-Bartali, I think there is only a day in between. If I have a good tour there and don’t get too run down, there is no reason why I can’t have a good Liège as well. But again it depends on the squad and who we are working for.
“I am looking forward to those races coming up.”
In the lead-up to the season Earle said that he hoped to ride the Giro d’Italia. Asked about this on Sunday, he said that he now feels that he will likely have to wait a little longer.
“It’s something I would really like to do,” he confirmed. “But I think this year it is not going to be a reality. Perhaps the Vuelta or something like that…a Grand Tour.”
He accepts that is not certain, though. “Obviously that is a huge step up again. Being on a team like this with the squad we have got this year, it is probably more unlikely than likely.
“But you never know with guys getting sick and injured and how I am performing later in the year as well.”
What’s clear is that riding a Grand Tour should help his career move to the next level. Many riders have experienced such a boost in the past, and he is clear that he would expect it to do the same for him.
“You get so much experience from three-week races,” he said. “There is nothing quite like that and being able to back up every day.
“Getting one of those in the legs really develops you as a rider and really builds that insurance. That is something that comes with a bit more maturity and development and kilometres in the legs.
“Sebastian [Henao] did the Giro last year and I think this year he will benefit from that, having that experience.
“Also being in the team environment like that for almost a month is a boost. Then you have the pre-training camps that go with a tour like that.”
All plusses, and all factors he believe should enhance his career.
“I think all of that is a really good leaning curve,” he said. “I would love to have the chance to experience that.”