What a whirlwind! A LOT has happened since my last blog! I won two silver medals in the Glasgow world cup, signed for United Healthcare pro team in the US and I became World Champion!!
The last time I posted up, I was going through a pretty miserable stage. I didn’t have a great experience in London and only for a few key people I wouldn’t be where I am now! I hit my lowest point after I got back from the games and I didn’t cycle for a couple of weeks, I just ate and lay about really. To be honest, the Glasgow World Cup was my decider. It was going to tell me whether I was wasting my time at the track or if I was actually decent. Turns out I’m decent enough! My silver medals in the pursuit and scratch race really spurred me on. That and the fact that I now had a road team slot to train for. The United Healthcare contract came about with thanks to Andy. During the summer, Mike Tamayo, the Director of UHC was in Mallorca where his wife Lauren was training with the US women’s team pursuit. I met him and Hendrik Redant a couple of times through Andy and he saw me doing some nasty training sessions. To be honest he took a real gamble on taking me onto his road team and I hope I don’t disappoint.
Just after the Glasgow World Cup, I had my first training camp with the team in Arizona in November. It was really cool to be handed equipment and gear etc. It’s such a great set up and I walked around for the ten days with my jaw on the floor! The guys on the team were all great and they really made me feel at home. Even though I’m sure they were thinking “who’s this new fred with no results”!!
I was back home for a few days and then Grace and I decided to go to Mallorca to keep me away from the usual festive treats. The weather was great compared to ireland and I got much more cycling in than I would have at home. It was a lot of long steady miles for me, bootcamp for Grace! We spent a lot of time relaxing in Andy Sparks and David Muntaner’s new bar/coffee/bike shop. A really cool place and worth a look if you’re over that neck of the woods. www.cyclingplanet.es
After Christmas, I had my second training camp with UHC in Arizona again. This one was a little different. The team spend a lot of time looking after their sponsors so we had a few cool sponsor days where each sponsor came in and gave us a talk on their products.
Next up for me was Etoile De Besseges. I was expecting the Tour of Taiwan to be my first race with the team but when I was on the camp in Arizona I was told my first race would be in France in a couple of weeks. I literal dropped the muffin I was eating and stepped away from the dessert cart! It turns out it was the best thing for me in the grand scheme of things as I know I wouldn’t have a world champ jersey now if I didn’t hadn't grovelled my way around Besseges.
With Besseges done and dusted I was back home in my own bed with Grace beside me for a whole 2 nights! Then I was back off to Mallorca for some track training. It hurt really bad for the first few sessions but I got back into it soon enough. The taste and feeling of lactate pumping through your body is hard to forget. The time flew by though and before long I was in Minsk. It was -4 but I didn’t see much of it because it was hotel-bus-track-bus-hotel. Pretty much groundhog day until race day. Turns out it was worth the wait!
First up was the individual pursuit. Something that I was super motivated for in training and I knocked out a PB of 4.20 in the qualifiers so I knew I was in good form. I was up against Hepburn, the Aussie, in the final. He had done a 4.18 so for the finals I went all or nothing! I put on a bigger gear and figure I had nothing to lose. I lost! I went 4 seconds slower and he went 2 seconds faster. A lot of people thought I was saving myself for the scratch but to be honest I wasn’t thinking about the scratch. I never go into a race not fully committed and this was no different. So, I did the whole medal ceremony thing and was back on the bike in 30 minutes. I spent the first half of the scratch race trying to cool down! I guess it was a good thing that couldn’t go hard for the first half of the race. After 20 laps i started to feel strong and wanted to get out of the group. I knew I only had one hard hit in me so with 10 to go I said screw it and looked for a lull in the racing. Once i had a gap the field started tp split so I spent my time picking off 1 or 2 riders at a time. With 4 to go I saw Andreas Mueller on my hip. I thought there was a group of guys licking their lips and waiting to rush me on the line. I kicked hard and made life hard for Mueller making sure he had to go the long way around. He cracked before i did, I couldn’t believe it – world champion! I’m still pinching myself a month later!
After I got back, my world went crazy for a couple of weeks, I’ve never heard myself speak so much! It was really great to see how genuinely excited people were for me. Thank you everyone for your support.
I’m in Taiwan now and it’s a smack of reality…….I feel strong but I know I could be in better shape if I spent more time training and less time posing for pictures with my jersey! But, it’s not often you have a purple patch and I’ll take it while I can. I've spent a long time in the shadows. Hopefully I can help the guys out over the next few days and we can deliver a UHC win!
Maybe, just maybe I'll do my best to keep this thing up to date!