So, once again I took almost a lifetime to get this latest blog to you; apologies again! I was just about to write how busy I’ve been, but I’m sure you’re all bored of hearing that! There’s a well-used phrase at HTC, which is hugely sarcastic: “We have a hard life”.
Anyway, back to what you all want to hear about; bike racing, and bike stuff. After a bit of a disaster in the altitude tent I successfully managed to totally drain my body of all of its resources and basically put myself on my knees. I finally recovered ready for the Tour of Britain.
The Tour of Britain went pretty well, as you may have seen. We won three stages and had three 2nd places too. As expected, I did a fair few kms pulling on the front and a few hard days surviving the hills. I must admit I wasn’t feeling great and just managed to pull through the race in one piece.
The last couple of days, I started to feel a little under the weather but after we lost our not-so-sharp team mate, Alex Rasmussen, it wasn’t really an option to leave the team another rider down. Unfortunately, I ended up in Copenhagen the day before the world championship time trial with a full-on cold and sore throat.
I tried dosing up on pain killers and whatever was in the magic bottle our team doctor gave me prior to the start [Tell us more – ed.]. I actually felt good for around 10km until the inevitable happened and the lights went out. I could barely hold 300w, so I just had to abandon. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do throughout my career and I can tell you I was pretty close to tears sat in the back of that team car. I had been focussed on this race for a long time and was totally gutted I had to stop.
Anyway, c’est la vie. What could I do? I had no option.
Next focus was to rest up and get healthy for the road race. I spent the majority of the week in my bed, rode the bike for three hours in total all week and it was pretty touch and go that I would start. I came good just in time and was able to start on the Sunday. I wasn’t at 100%, I must admit, but I felt ready enough to race.
I really wanted to get through this race and go as deep into the finale as I could. It’s not every day that you get the chance to compete at this level for 270kms and, with the Olympics drawing upon us fast, I need every chance I can to race at this distance.
The race started fast, very fast; 52km/h for the first hour, in fact. No crazy breakaway for me this year, I had to save my legs and stay fresh. I have to admit I didn’t see much of what was going on in the race as I was hidden pretty far back. Out of the wind, constantly eating, drinking and doing everything I could to stay as fresh as possible.
Slowly but surely, the Brits wound up the pace at the front in what was the most impressive performance I have ever seen from a bike team. In what seemed like no time at all it was the last lap. I was still feeling ok, a little bit of cramp, but ok. I was surprised to even be here still after the week I’d just had.
We were approaching the finish and I found myself just behind Cav and Philippe Gilbert. I looked up and saw 2km to go. I thought “Shit, I’m in the finale in the worlds”. I was a little overwhelmed for a while and didn’t quite fight like I should have for that last corner.
If I could do it all again I would do a lot of stuff differently. I think I let a big opportunity slip last Sunday and it’s probably something I will regret for a long time to come. I’m not saying I would have won or anything, but I could have been a hell of a lot better than 36th if I grew a set of balls! [Steady – ed.]
I approached the line and looked up to see whose hands were in the air. It was Cav, he had done it. I’d heard it so many times all those years ago; “ I am the best in the world”. Now he actually was. It was a pretty emotional moment, to say the least. My mate was world champion. Wow! Unreal.
After a stressful quest for a visa for a last minute call-up for the Tour Of Beijing, I finally had to give up today and admit defeat to the pen pushers in the Chinese embassy. Back to my original plan, Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours.
How special would it be to do my last race with Cav the world champ, and to win… ?
Watch this space and wish us luck
P.s. We have come a fair way since this photo was taken!