The first six months of his first full season with Australian Continental team Drapac has provided Brendan Canty with plenty of miles in legs and stamps in his passport. The 24-year-old, who impressed with 14th at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Tour while riding with the team as a stagiaire, has 27 race days in his legs thus far in 2016 ahead of a block of European racing starting with the UCI 1.1 Halle Ingooigem.
"It was part of the plan with Drapac this year to do a lot more racing in Europe, and for someone like me who hasn’t really done that before, it’s a great opportunity to see what it’s like and experience a different kind of racing. So far for me this year, I’ve learned a lot and taken a lot on board," Canty told Cyclingnews while enjoying a block of training in Boulder, Colorado.
Starting with 11th in the Australian national championships, Canty's first stage race of 2016 was the Tour de San Luis where a crash ended any aspirations of a top-ten finish. The 24-year-old was back on track at the Tour of Oman, finishing seventh overall and claiming the best young rider's jersey.
A short break followed before contesting the Oceania Championships in his home state of Victoria. Canty then jetted off for his first European races of the season at the Route Adélie de Vitré and Paris-Camembert. The stint of racing also saw him line up two of Drapac's biggest races in Europe yet with De Brabantse Pijl-La Flèche Brabançonne and the Giro del Trentino.
Having pinned on racing numbers in Australia, South America and Europe, Canty's next continent to conquer was Asia with 19th in the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan. A block of training in Colorado before heading back to Europe for the second-half of the 2016 season.
"Getting that result in Tour of Oman is definitely the biggest thing I’ve had happen to me so far," he said of the season thus far. "I think it has given me the confidence that when I come into another big race like that, that I can potentially go well against some of the bet riders in the world. It was a little bit disappointing for me at Giro del Trentino where I got sick and wasn’t going well. I couldn’t get a good result and over there there was a lot of guys getting prepared for the Giro d’Italia so it would have been a really good test to see how I’d go there.
"That was a little bit unfortunate but that’s not to say I don’t expect to do the same thing that I’ve done at Tour of Oman. My training is good here in Boulder and I am starting to feel good again so when I head back to Europe for the Tour of Austria and Portugal I hope to go really well at those races. I think the result I had at Tour of Oman is still fresh in my mind and I am going to use that for my confidence to believe I can go really well at these races."
At 24, Canty is one of the older first year neo-pro's in the peloton having come to the sport later than his colleagues and having also completed a bachelors degree. While the bike is Canty's primary focus for now, he still finds time for a balanced lifestyle in keeping with the Drapac philosophy as he explained.
"Back home in Melbourne I’ve become an associated with an accounting firm called Pitcher Partners. This is a side of the team that Michael Drapac himself and the team philosophy is really strong about and I’ve actually got a casual position there as a graduate," said Canty who also speaks French due an exchange programme during his studies. "When I was in Melbourne I was doing one afternoon a week in there learning about and doing some basic tax accounting and things like that. Whilst I am here [in Boulder], I'm still in touch with that firm and they’ve been sending through some light reading information on tax reform and things like that. That’s one thing that’s keeping my occupied, along with learning some Spanish."
Considering 2015 was Canty's first year of full-time racing, the 2016 season has been a learning experience on and off the bike.
"For me, I spend a lot of time on the road so for me it’s about dealing with the amount of travel and different environments," he said. "I have to get used to things that you’re not comfortable with in terms of where you sleep, you stay, what kind of food you’re eating, training at different times of the day, learning new roads and things like that. Besides the racing being quite different as well, a big challenge is being comfortable and mentally dealing with some of the extra situations travelling creates for you.
"You never know what is going to happen in bike racing. Having the ability to adapt and change plans as the season goes is very important
While the cycling world is consumed with the Tour de France in July, Canty will head to the Tour of Austria (July 2-9) and the Volta a Portugal (July 27- August 7) and look to create some headlines of his own.
"Being quite hilly tours, there are obviously ambitions for me to go quite well in some of the big hilly stages. We are going to have a pretty strong team there with pretty much all of out climbers for Austria in particular," he said. "With Portugal being a longer stage race, who knows what will happen there, but hopefully I can come into a race like that with ambitions to pick up a stage or potentially go well on the overall GC. We’ll have a lot of good riders there so I’ll have to see what happens closer to the date."
"If I was to go out there and say I want to get on the podium or win a stage at one of these upcoming races, that absolutely would be great. As to a specific goal, there is nothing in particular set that I am trying to go out and achieve but you always want to go out and do well so it would be silly for me to say that I wouldn’t to go out and win a particular race. There are opportunities at Austria for sure, and there will be opportunities in Portugal as well."