• Harry Sweeny of Lotto Soudal at the UAE Tour (UAE Tour)Source: UAE Tour
Harry Sweeny is one of the new crop of Australian youngsters on the WorldTour scene, with the Queenslander looking to fit into star sprinter Caleb Ewan's train and test himself in the prestigious one-day classics.
SBS Cycling Central

24 Feb 2021 - 10:09 AM 

Sweeny took a different route to the top level of the sport, basing himself largely in Europe and eschewing domestic competition as he fought his way to a two-year professional contract with Lotto Soudal.

“Leaving Australia to pursue your cycling dream is by no means an obvious move,” said Sweeny. “Leaving your entire family, your friends, girlfriend behind is certainly something that European professional cyclists do not have to experience. Sometimes it is really difficult and it is something that you never get used to. Of course, it helps that you have a specific goal in mind in Europe.”

Sweeny was a triathlete in his teenage years before taking up road cycling, and has forged a career in the junior and Under 23 ranks in Europe. Sweeny rode for the Mitchelton-Scott feeder squad, then Irish continental squad EvoPro Racing before securing a deal on Lotto Soudal's Under 23 team. 

“The road to my professional career is actually special,” said Sweeny . “I started as a triathlete and my first road season was not until 2015. Then I joined the cycling program of the local sports institute. Since then I have progressed step by step and eventually became the rider I am today. I, therefore, feel completely ready to start my professional career.”

Sweeny currently lives and trains in the south of France, staying over in Europe for the off-season in preparation for his first professional season in the WorldTour peloton. 

“I am staying in a nice apartment in Nice, I find it an incredible environment. Of all the places I have already visited in Europe, Nice is the closest to Australia. With the beach nearby and the mountains within easy reach, it really is a perfect place. The sun is also almost always present, so the training conditions are ideal. It looks good for the coming season. ”

Sweeny is no stranger to Lotto Soudal. The Australian spent last year in the U23 team led by Kurt Van de Wouwer and impressed with a victory in Il Piccolo Lombardia, the young riders' version of the monument of cycling, the Giro il Lombardia. 

“The transition to the WorldTeam went very smoothly,” said Sweeny. “I already knew a lot of staff members and the material also remained the same. That makes it easier to integrate yourself within the team. I already know a few riders, because I trained regularly in Australia with Caleb Ewan. It almost feels like I haven't changed teams at all and it also feels fantastic to be able to take that step together with some teammates from the Lotto Soudal U23 team.

“The win in Il Piccolo Lombardia was certainly the highlight of last season. For the pros, races like the Giro Il Lombardia may be a bit too tough, but I really like the one-day races where the race doesn't stop for a moment." 

So where does Sweeny see himself fitting into the Lotto Soudal set-up, both now and in the future?

"I hope to become a versatile rider, but also an essential part of Caleb's leadout," said Sweeny. "I can't wait to further discover my qualities as a rider. I think I can also hold my own in the classics, races like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix should suit me in the future. But I also hope to discover races like the Ardennes classics, if only to see where my ceiling is. ”

Sweeny first outing in the WorldTour is already underway, in support of Caleb Ewan at the UAE Tour, with the 22-year-old expected to be called into action as part of Ewan's sprint train in the coming stages.