It's been close to a few months since I updated this thing and a lot has happened. I've only raced twice since the last post - one was 3 weeks long and the other...the longest single day on the bike in my life!
The team time trial at the Vuelta has to be one of the season highlights, so hard but somehow I rolled with the boys and we nearly got a stage win out of it, pipped by the last team to finish...heartbreak stuff! The first stages were great and after 5 days I was up to 6th in the overall, but unfortunately it all came undone in 3 miserable days. After getting caught in the cross wind one day, trying to make up for it with some loose tactics the next and then crashing the following day and losing 15mins...my GC ambitions dissolved very quickly. From then it was the same old story most days. Full gas for the breakaway, somehow go with every move except the one that gets away and then be too stuffed to race the final or sit up and save it for the next stage when I would hopefully make the break. By the end of the race I was man down, the great first week did a U-turn very quickly.
I kept on the straight and narrow for the world champs but wasn’t able to shake the damage the Vuelta had done. When Jack Bauer told me to start riding for myself with a few laps to go, my legs had a breakdown and I crawled around the last lap.
That’s 2014 done in terms of bike racing, I didn’t get the big break through I had dreamt about in January. I made some big gains but had a few issues with the side stitch (but think I might be on right track with a solution) and felt like I was always thereabouts but the things that could have gone either way never fell in my direction. Being a westerner in a predominantly Italian team was not easy, that’s not to say it was not enjoyable eventually. Once you have been through the initial shit period where you don’t know if they are telling you to attack or get a bottle it was actually pretty cool. I met people I would never normally meet, learnt reasonable Italian and got some more hours in "outside the comfort zone". I have to put out a massive thanks to Mattia Michelusi for all the time he put into me this year, it's really sad to see the Cannondale/Brixia legacy coming to an end regardless of whether I was leaving or staying. The team operated as a big family over the last 11 years and has been a huge part of modern cycling history. Times are hard enough in the cycling world these days and too talk to the staff who now have no job or income and way to keep themselves in the cycling world is always a shit thing to see. It seemed like a very unnecessary thing to happen but its just a reminder that when push comes to shove, pro cycling is a business now.
On a far brighter note, you may have heard the good news...I'm off to TeamLottoNL! (formerly Belkin). It's something that has been in the pipeline for a while so it's great that I can now share it. They're one of the most progressive teams in world cycling who tick all the boxes that I need to help me get to where I know I can be. It seems perfect in terms of where I'll fit into the team, there’s some super strong GC riders there for me to ride for and learn from. I know it's not going to be easy heading into another foreign team but it won't take me long to pick up the lingo and adjust to some Dutch culture. It's one of those things that will be hard at the time but I'll be a lot better off for it down the track. So I'm fizzing to pull on a new jersey and start getting the little things done well. The few ideas that we have already talked about have me pretty excited about getting back into things.
As for the end of year rest, this blog is coming to you from the beach front in phi phi island, Thailand where I'm recharging the zen for another season ahead. Now is the time for me to catch my breath, not read cyclingnews, not read nutritional labels on food packets and do the things I can't for the majority of the year because before you know it...your pinning a number on for national champs in January again. So a big thanks to everyone who has followed along this year, everyone who has helped out and yelled at me from the road side or a couch. It's really huge for me to know how much support is out there...its crazy how many people I end up relying on just so I can pedal a bike a little bit faster.gb