Michael Hepburn's tenure with Orica-Scott will continue for at least the next two seasons, with the team announcing that the 25-year-old has re-signed. Hepburn has been with the Australian WorldTour team since its inception in 2012, becoming a key rider for the Classics and the Giro d'Italia squad.
While Hepburn has mixed road and track responsibilities during his time with Orica-Scott, the six-time track world champion is now fully committed to the road.
"I'm looking forward to racing the northern classics again after having missed them last season due to commitments with the national team on the track, and the team time trial world championships are still a huge goal of mine," Hepburn said in a release from the team.
"I have been with this team from the beginning and in that time I've formed great bonds with many of the riders and staff. It really does feel like home, like a family to me, and I'm really pleased to be staying with the team for another two years."
During his time with the team, Hepburn has enjoyed success on the road. A strong time triallist, Hepburn won the Australian title in 2014 and was a key rider in the team's Giro team time trial stage wins in 2014 and 2015. He also helped the team to two silver medals and one bronze in the discipline at the Worlds.
Despite the team having a strong time trial emphasis in its early years, Orica-Scott has turned its attention to the general classification at the Grand Tours, with Esteban Chaves and the Yates twins, Adam and Simon, all recording top-ten results. For Hepburn, the change in focus has been a challenge he has enjoyed and one that has seen him become a more versatile rider.
"I’ve seen the team’s goals change over my time and we've all had to adapt in different ways, allowing me to continuously learn new things each year," he said. "With so many general classification riders now capable of being on the podium in the biggest races on the calendar, I want to keep helping them and the team achieve goals in those races. I feel like I've made some big gains in my development in the last year and I'm really excited and looking forward to testing myself in more races."
Hepburn follows teammates Svein Tuft, Mat Hayman, and Chris Juul Jensen in re-signing for the team. Sports director Matt White explained that having never had Hepburn at his disposal for a full season, he is looking forward to a fully committed Hepburn.
"We have seen a different Heppy this year with his total focus on the road. I think we are going to see even more development on the road in the next couple of years, having popped in and out of track ambitions for the last six years," said White. "In that period he has won multiple world titles and Olympic medals but now his focus is totally on the road and we will benefit from that.
"He is a world class team time trial rider and he is also very versatile. We have seen him slot into lead out trains and we’ve seen him as a general workhorse for our GC guys."
Hepburn is due to race the fourth Grand Tour of his career at the Vuelta a España, starting Saturday.
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