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Dan McLay: “I grew in love with the Classics from very early on”

I wrote about Dan McLay in the past, so if you want to know more about his first years in cycling and the results he scored, just check this piece. A neo-pro this season, the young rider of Bretagne-Séché has quickly found his place in the peloton, winning a stage in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo and riding some of the biggest World Tour events of the calendar, including some Classics, which he dreams of winning in the future. Having already 27 racing days under his belt, the 23-year-old Brit is now preparing for the 51st edition of the Tour of Turkey, which starts this Sunday and will give plenty of opportunities to the sprinters.

Just a couple of days before heading there – after a two-week break following the conclusion of the Spring Classics – Dan McLay sat down and talked for Cafe Roubaix about his start to the season and the goals he has for the next months.

– Dan, after a couple of seasons in the U23 Lotto-Belisol team, you choose Bretagne-Séché to turn pro. What stood behind this decision?

Well, to be honest, there weren’t a lot of teams fighting over me so it wasn’t as if I could sit back and deliberate, as I didn’t receive any solid offers on the table. However, Bretagne-Séché provided a great opportunity to have chances to race for myself even in my first year as a pro, a great race programme and a relaxed environment.

– Do you feel you’ve blend in at Bretagne-Séché?

I think I need to learn French. Otherwise, everyone is very friendly and supportive though and it’s a good atmosphere in the team.

– Your first win came maybe sooner then expected, in just your second race with the team, the Tropicale Amissa Bongo.

Indeed. I was trying to lead out in stage three and eventually I finished first, but otherwise I think in that race I knew I should be fast enough to win at least a stage. It was an interesting experience for sure and overall it was fine. It was a lot like other races; aside from one or two little bits of disorganisation and a lack of wi-fi, there wasn’t so much different really.

– Although a neo-pro, you got to do some big one-day races. Was this the plan from the beginning of the season, or was it something that came along?

Yes, it was the plan. I wasn’t scheduled to ride Paris-Nice at first, but everything else was in the plan.

– Two weeks ago, you raced Paris-Roubaix. How was this first encounter with the “Hell of the North”?

I had some bad luck, having to change both wheels on the section prior to the Arenberg Forest, which really left me out of the race before it even started. I did feel good beforehand, but it’s so early it’s hard to tell. I punctured a couple of times after as well and then had to call it a day.

– You have a particular affinity to the Northern Classics. Why is that?

I think they are the biggest races someone of my type of rider can win. I grew in love with them from very early on.

– Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders? Which would you like to win in the future?

I don’t know, I think that Paris-Roubaix maybe suits me better, but I don’t know which I would prefer to win. For me you have to throw Milan-Sanremo in the mix as well, as it is such a beautiful finish with the balance being so fine as to who can win.

– With what thoughts are you going to the Tour of Turkey?

I feel good, I don’t know my role yet, but if I am sprinting I want to win or if I am leading out I want to do that perfectly each time.

– Is a Tour de France start on the table?

It’s not been talked about much, but I think it’s unlikely at the moment. I hope I can maybe change that with a good performance in the Tour of Turkey. But there’s still a long way to go until July. Right now I’m focused on Turkey, then the Tour de Picardie and World Ports Classic.

– And do you have any more personal goals for the rest of the season?

I want to win a race of a good standard with some big sprinters there.

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