Jacob Hennessy
Jacob Hennessy.

You ride your first race in March 2015 and by 2017 you’ve won the U23 Gent-Wevelgem.

Promising?

Yes, that’s what we thought.

Jacob Hennessy is only 21 years-old and has left the shelter of the British Cycling plans and programmes for the rough and tumble of the Continental Teams and the UCI Asia Tour.

Mitchelton-BikeExchange is his home for season 2018.

The team is the development squad for Australia’s Mitchelton-Scott World Tour team.

Gerry Ryan, owner of the World Tour team and one of Australia’s richest men, has again put his money where his mouth is.

Ryan has long been a supporter and benefactor of Australian Cycling – he owns the title sponsor Mitchelton winery/hotel/spa and also has an interest in the secondary name, Bike Exchange the on-line bicycle and components retailer.

The team is Chinese registered, they have four riders from that vast nation on their books who the Chinese Federation are delighted to see training and racing at this level with a well organised and responsible team

As well as the four Chinese riders and young Mr. Hennessy there are four Aussies and a Colombian on the books.

Among the Aussies is multiple junior Worlds medallist on the track, 2017 London Six Day winner and three times Aussie national U23 time trial champion, Callum Scotson.

And if the name Brayan Chaves looks familiar that’s because he’s the brother of Giro and Vuelta podium rider and Lombardia winner, Esteban Chaves.

A cosmopolitan but very talented roster.

We caught up with Jacob after his first race for his new team which saw him deliver sixth place in Stage One of the Dubai Tour in a finale which involved Messrs. Cavendish, Kittel and Viviani.

He was also active on the final stage, breaking away with team mate Rob Stannard and only reeled in late in the day.

Do you remember your first race, Jacob – when was that and how did it go?

“My first race was in March 2015; a local race which was four laps of a nine mile circuit – I won from a bunch kick.”

Jacob Hennessy
Jacob taking the win in the 2017 u23 Gent-Wevelgem. Photo©JDC

The U23 Gent-Wevelgem, a nice race to win, tell us about the parcours and how you won.

“An amazing experience in my first UCI Nation’s Cup Season (the UCI’s season-long competition for U23 riders, ed).

“A group of us got away in a crosswind section and worked well together.

“I focused on saving energy and doing my part until it came to the last 45 minutes when I started really driving through and I won from a small group on the cobbled street finish.

“The race itself suits me well as it’s a flat fast race which is all about position but with a few short steep climbs for good measure.”

And there was fifth on GC in Paris-Arras, with a stage win too…

“I set out all day to try to split the race on the first stage but no matter how many crosswinds I rode through the group stayed together.

“My team mates were amazing in the final on that stage.

“Off the back of a big track racing block we had a lot of power to put me in the perfect position for the finish.”

We don’t hear much about your other win on the continent: GP Pierre Dewailly Froidmont at Tournai, Belgium…

“That race was really fast from the start.

“I attacked early in a crosswind before a climb and a group of us got away; I attacked again with two circuits to go and a group of five or six of us worked hard with everyone trying to break away solo but eventually those of us in the break sprinted for the win.”

Jacob Hennessy
Jacob signing on and hoping he doesn’t slip on his cleats. Photo©supplied

Is your ride with Mitchelton-BikeExchange a tie in with British Cycling or a new direction altogether?

“A new direction, a really good opportunity but I’m still on good terms with the national team so I hope to get to represent them later on in the year again.”

What’s the story behind the Mitchelton-BikeExchange set up?

“It’s a Chinese-registered development team for the world tour squad Mitchelton Scott.

“The aim is to develop all of us into World Tour level bike racers.

“It’s also a great opportunity for the Chinese riders to ride and race in Europe.”

Scott are the team bikes – which model and what’s the equipment?

“We will tend to get the ‘pre-raced’ bikes from the World Tour teams.

“So we will be using the Scott foil races bikes from last season but they are basically all still brand new.”

You were on the World Tour team training camp – what was that experience like?

“It was a great experience and they were an excellent group of guys to work with – really enjoyable.

“It was very relaxed which was surprising considering the work load.”

Your sixth place, Stage One – Dubai, good for the morale. 

“Yes, I was really happy for myself and the team.”

How was the acceptance/respect from the World Tour teams in that race?

“Good, I knew a few riders from the bigger teams which helped but it was early season and everybody was enjoying the race.

“I tried to give as much respect as possible to the other riders and the respect was returned.”

What’s your favourite kind of race?

“A fast, windy race potentially with some cobbles.”

Where’s ‘home’ for 2018?

“Gavirate, Italy which is in Lombardy Region, the province of Varese, near Lago di Varese.”

How’s the race programme looking?

“Busy but really good.

“We have been looking at fitting in some quality training along with some ideal races to perform at.”

What’s 2018 about for Jacob Hennessy?

“Trying to get some more consistent results and developing.

“It’s all still quite new to me and I’m really just looking forward to the season proper starting.”

We’re sad to see that Jacob broke his collarbone on Saturday in a crash and wish him a speedy recovery. VeloVeritas will keep an eye out for him as the season progresses.

Jacob Hennessy
Photo©Jacob Hennessy