WorldTeam Harry Sweeny: “Mentally, getting Covid was really difficult to deal with.”
For Harry Sweeny, who rode his first kilometres as a pro at the UAE Tour, his debut didn’t become what the 22-year-old Australian had dreamed of. Just when Sweeny was building form for a first Flemish spring season, the coronavirus disrupted his plans. Following a long period without competition, the sympathetic Sweeny returned to racing on the unpaved Breton roads of the Tro Bro Leon. A conversation with the Lotto Soudal rider who left behind his home country and settled in Nice to make his cycling dream come true.
“It was really nice to turn pro and the UAE Tour was an ideal race to get started and to find my fade a bit before going into some hard races on the calendar”, says Harry Sweeny. “It was nice to figure out my spot in the lead-out train and trying to get that dialed in. The one highlight so far is definitely the final stage of the UAE Tour. Being part of the lead-out train and Caleb finishing it off at the end was just awesome.”
“Actually, I didn’t really notice a big change compared to racing at U23 level, because in previous years, I’ve raced a lot of .1 and .Pro races, so it wasn’t a stand-out step up to the WorldTour as some of the other guys from the Development Team who turned pro might have experienced.”
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Just when Sweeny was getting ready for his first Flemish Classics, the Bredene Koksijde Classic suddenly became his final race of the spring season.
“It was a massive shame that I got Covid because I was just sort of starting to hit my stride before the Classics. I had a beautiful program lined up which would have been great, so it was really quite difficult to deal with in the beginning. Initially, I had 16 days of the bike straightaway so actually it did take me a while to come back and I had to take it slowly coming back onto the bike. Right now, I’ve done some five weeks of training since I started back after Covid. I am starting to get better but it was really difficult to deal with it mentally.”
From a sports point of view, it really was a damper, but Sweeny also sees the positive side of it.
Harry Sweeny: “Despite the disappointment of getting Covid, I think it was also a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to spend more time in Nice, which otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do. It was nice to sort of get on my feet and set up my apartment and try and figure out a life for myself really. I think that Europeans don’t quite understand the difficulty of moving country and leaving a precious life that you’ve had behind. So, it was a great opportunity for me to feel at home in Nice and to just get myself on track. And that’s really shown itself the past weeks, I really feel at ease and happy now, which is really nice.”
Last week, Sweeny returned to competition at the Tro Bro Leon, immediately an atypical race ridden on Breton gravel roads.
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“Tro Bro Leon was a great race to get started, actually. I have done it previously in 2019 and I love that sort of racing, the grinta of it. The plan for me was to help Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb, which went quite well. In the end, I didn’t have the legs to stay in the leading move that I made but I’m happy with where’s my form at and I’m looking forward to the next races”, concludes Harry Sweeny.
Images: Photo News.