• Australian rider Michael Storer celebrates winning the King of the Mountains jersey at the 2021 Vuelta. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Michael Storer is on the crest of a wave in his young career as a professional cyclist, coming off a stellar few months at the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour l'Ain, and looking forward to moving onwards and upwards with Groupama-FDJ in 2022.
By
SBS Cycling Central

11 Oct - 1:51 PM 

Storer was coming to the end of a four-year stint with Team DSM, his only professional team after being recruited into the sport at the age of 20 as a fresh-faced youngster. 

He developed in those early years, but hadn't yet delivered on the promise shown at a junior and development level. That perception was flipped on its head in a rapid-fire series of wins, first taking out the Tour l'Ain queen stage and overall, then going on to win two stages at La Vuelta and the mountains jersey. 

He was one of the most exciting riders of the race, fighting his way out of breakaways packed with big-name stars of the sport to take the victories that are the standouts of his career to date.

"I couldn’t believe I could finally pull it off," said Storer. "This has been my long-term goal, I wasn’t sure when I’d get to a level to win a Grand Tour stage. In past Grand Tours I was just trying to finish the race, not going in breakaways or trying to win a stage.

"I took a lot of satisfaction from those experiences, particularly because I’m trying to grow as a cyclist, I don’t really know what I’m capable of. In the future, maybe I can do a bit more, or maybe this is as good as I can be, I’d also be quite happy with that."

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Australian Michael Storer (Team DSM) battled to victory on the final steep slopes of the Balcón de Alicante, proving the strongest of a very talented breakaway that formed early during Stage 7 of the Vuelta a España.
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Australian Michael Storer (Team DSM) attacked solo and triumphed over the climbs on the final stage of the Tour de l’Ain to take his first professional win and secure the overall title.

Storer has an eye on 2022, where he will move the French WorldTour squad Groupama-FDJ, potentially to take on more responsibility after his success during the season. Whether that will be in a stage-hunting, opportunistic role, or with a more structured GC focus is something that needs to be determined, with the West Australian looking at the long-term prospect of making a bid to be a general classification rider.

"My objectives are similar to what I’ve done this year," said Storer. "I want to be in the final of Grand Tours and also go for stages when the opportunities come. On top of that, maybe I’ll have more focus on GC for stage races, ones that are a week or less than a week.

“I’d like to do the Tour de France. It’s the biggest race in the world. If people say cycling, they mean the Tour de France. Doing all three of the Grand Tours, that would be really special.”

Storer is coming into prominence in the sport at a time where youth is rising to the top of the results in the Grand Tours, with the likes of Tadej Pogačar, Remco Evenepoel, Egan Bernal and Jonas Vingegaard impressing mightily in recent years at the head of the big three-week races. On the other side, you have the likes of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert contenders in every classic they enter, but Storer shrugged off any comparison.

“No, if you’d seen me sprint, you’d know that I can’t do it at all," said Storer. "No matter how much I work on it, it doesn’t improve at all.

"I don’t really compare myself to others, I try to keep improving myself and concentrate on where I want to focus. I’ve been trying to become the best climber that I can, maybe I can concentrate more on time-trialling for GC, that’s a very long-term focus, there’s extra things I need to work on to be a proper contender.”

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Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) fell short of defending the pink leader's jersey at the Giro d'Italia on the final stage time trial, but created history with the best ever finish by an Australian at the Italian Grand Tour.

With riders like Jai Hindley and Ben O'Connor similar Australian athletes to Storer, both of whom took a big leap to figure in the top placings on the general classification at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, respectively, there is some precedent for the 24-year-old finding success soon if he does switch his focus to GC aspirations. However, there's no rush at present, and plenty of Australian fans have been a boost for Storer already after his first successes.

“These days the support comes through messages, also if I decide to read comments on something, particularly about the Vuelta, it’s all really positive and gives me a little extra push and motivation during the race. It’s really special to have support from family and friends from home.”