I haven’t been at the house in over six weeks, my guitar has gathered dust and the PlayStation controllers are dead but as always it's bloody good to be “home”...well at least it's not my daily "get up out of a suitcase". It's been another long trip, more than six weeks since I left Girona, I flew straight out from tour of Austria to Boulder to do a bit of altitude training before racing Utah. As usual I stay with my adopted American family the Bellians which is always bloody good! Growing up in a big family, it's always nice to get back to a busy house. Training there was some of the best I've done in a long time and I put some really good work in for the Vuelta.
Starting Tour of Utah always brings a feeling of nostalgia/the feeling you get on your birthday when you realize you're one year older and still live with your parents… Tour of Utah was the first time I pinned a number on for a pro team back in 2011 for Radioshack riding for Levi which he won. This was the 4th time I lined up so I was hoping by now I was going to win a stage or finish up there on the GC. Utah has come along way since it's debut year pro, since Horner won the Vuelta after Utah last year it has become the golden ticket and now there's a stack of hitters on the start line.
Last year, I got better results against a far inferior field so it's hard to gauge improvement exactly but I know it's a lot, at least from a power stand point. I wasn’t far away from the guys who will be the big dogs in the Vuelta next week, a handful of seconds here and there. I ended up 9th. Not really what I wanted, but still on track for the big lap of Spain - some guys came in really hot, some guys are altitude specialists and some guys have been living up over 2000meters, I think next time around i'll go prepare higher, going from Boulder at 1550 meters to Empire Pass at 3000 is well… sh*t! I think the course this year was harder than ever; we never had an easy day, the flat days had cross wind and the hilly days had altitude. My team were great, we had a laugh off the bike and the boys always put me in a great spot when I needed to be.
For the first time I'm not heading to Colorado which is refreshing, I was growing weary of that old regime, it brings a different mentality to racing in Utah, in and out fast with a pocket full of hard racing and miles to take into the Vuelta. I'm starting to get excited about the Spain now. I feel I'm ready for it, I've taken some big hits to get the best preparation in, missing commonwealth games was hard, it would have been a special thing to be part of my good mate jacks medal wearing the silver fern but some dodgy laps around Glasgow in the rain is not going to help me survive 3 weeks of Spanish mountains. There’s still one more week to find some crystal cranks behind the motorbike and freshen up from the last few days of training and then its all go. First mission is a 12.5km team time trial. Hold on to your steak and cheese...gb