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Back 2019-04-26

Hagens Berman Axeon’s Revard Learning Life as a Pro

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Thomas Revard learned a vital lesson during his rookie year with Hagens Berman Axeon: "I actually do belong here," he told himself as he raced against top pros.

He's learning to be a pro, the ups and downs. A year ago, he was the celebrated winner of the venerable Redlands Bicycle Classic. This year, he crashed out with a broken left clavicle. Now he's back training, including a recent visit to the Zipp lunch ride. We chatted with the 21-year-old Indiana native about what he’s learned. We also asked him about being a climber from the Midwest flatlands and his approach to staying mentally fresh amid the highs and lows. Below is an edited transcript:

All photos © Davey Wilson

You had a big rookie season with Hagens Berman Axeon. What did you learn racing at a pro level?

The big takeaway was really figuring out and believing in myself and realizing that I deserve to be at this level. When you first get on the team, it’s kind of a shock: I just went from Category 1 to now a full-on professional. It doesn’t really sink in until you start racing. Even doing races like the Tour of Utah, you’re just like, 'OK I actually do belong here.' You just have to learn really quick. You pick it up really fast. You’re bumping shoulders with WorldTour dudes. You apologize, but then someone like a teammate is like, ‘Don’t apologize. You belong here. There’s a reason why you’re here. ’

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Did that realization come on the long climbs, where you excel the most?

For sure. It’s kind of weird being from Indiana, being a climber. But I have learned to make friends with the wind. In Indiana, there is no hiding, especially in the early spring and winter. You have to adapt and use the wind to your advantage. It’s your best friend when it comes to training. When you’re on a flat road and the wind is blowing in your face at 25mph, you’re doing like 400 watts to do 10mph, which is the equivalent of what you would be doing if you were going up an 8 percent grade.

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When you’re training in Indiana, do you purposefully go up to the wattage you’d have to hold on a tough climb?

You always find yourself riding into the wind because it’s like riding on an indoor trainer. It’s super consistent. There’s very little variation, no power drops or anything. It’s just you, the wind, and the amount of power you can put out. Other days, I’m not doing intervals. I try to ride with the tailwind because you can’t go that hard every day.

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Were you able to glean any lessons on climbing from the WorldTour riders you raced against?

Just really watching their eating and hydration and staying hidden most of the day. Sepp Kuss did an amazing job of that, especially at (the Tour of) Utah. He was hidden the entire time. You didn’t see him until the final climb. When he made his move, it was obvious that he was going to win that race. He proved that every single time. He set the bar of what being a climber and a GC guy is, in terms of that race. Having your teammates, when they’re riding for you, it’s comforting. You don’t feel like you have to do everything, which is the most important part—conserving energy.

You’ve been dedicated to cycling and, before that, running for years. Young pros can get burned out. Did you take time this off season to keep things in perspective?

I grew up riding bikes. For me, it was always an escape from reality. I would say I am very close to being a Peter Sagan in the aspect of I just have fun on my bike. Yes, I take a little time off. But I don’t really stop riding. I’ll do rides where I’m not really focused on how long I ride or how hard I ride. I just go out and pedal my bike and take in everything. When you’re not focused on doing intervals, that’s your time to see what’s going on around you. I go out and discover new roads. I even dabbled in gravel this off season…. Just going out exploring simply because I can. I have this amazing job that allows me to go and ride my bike and get paid to do what I love…. When I’m suffering during intervals, it’s just my reality check—I’m having fun even though I’m suffering.

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Follow @ThomasRevard and @HBAxeon on Instagram. #PROVEIT #ZippSpeed #MakingYouFaster