Paris-Nice is a great chance for me to lead the team but I just need to get over illness
Last Updated: 28/04/15 3:36pm
I’m really pleased to say that next week I’m going to be the main general classification rider for my Orica-GreenEdge team at Paris-Nice.
It’s going to be a great opportunity, but the only problem is I’ve been ill for the last couple of weeks and I’m not 100 per cent sure what shape I'm going to begin the race in.
It all started last month. We went to South Africa for a two-week training camp and it went really well, but on the day we were travelling back, I think I must have eaten something dodgy in the airport because I felt dreadful for the whole journey home and ever since I've been trying to fight illness off.
I’ve finally started to come around a bit in these past couple of days and there are still three days before Paris-Nice starts on Sunday, so I’ve got a little bit of time to keep recovering.
But it has put a bit of a query over my form, which is frustrating because I was feeling really strong and I was really looking forward to reaping the benefits of training at altitude.
Unfortunately, Paris-Nice starts with a prologue, and you can’t hide from the truth in a short time trial like that, but then the next three stages are all flat and although they will still be dangerous in terms of potential crashes and crosswinds, if I can hide myself away in the bunch, hopefully that will give me chance to ease myself into the race and get myself back to where I was in South Africa in time for the summit finish on stage four.
I’m not really setting myself a target of where I want to finish in the general classification, and especially not after falling ill. I prefer to focus on how well I perform as a GC rider - things like how I lead the team and making sure I make the right decisions.
It’s a cliché but this race is a stepping stone for me – getting the experience as a GC rider and enhancing my chances of winning a race like this in the future.
I’m just really grateful that the team recognise that is the type of rider I want to develop into and are willing to give me the opportunity to sample what it is like in such a big race at this early stage of my career.
Once Paris-Nice is out of the way, my next race will be the Tour of the Basque Country and then I'll go to the Ardennes classics, although I’m not sure which ones I’ll race yet. After that my schedule is a bit less certain, but there’s a good chance I’ll be going to the Tour de Romandie.
It’s actually been quite a late start to the season for me, which was pre-planned way back at the end of last year, so although I was ill, it was good to finally get my first races of 2015 under my belt last weekend.
While I’ve been training, the other British lads in the peloton have made an amazing start to the season. Chris Froome won at the Ruta del Sol, Mark Cavendish has been winning left, right and centre, Geraint Thomas won at the Volta ao Algarve and then Ian Stannard won at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last week – no pressure on me then. At that rate I’m going to have to win Paris-Nice and take out a stage along the way.
Seriously, it’s been great to see from a British perspective, but what is probably more relevant to me is that Orica-GreenEdge get on that sort of run as a team, because once your team-mates start winning, that positivity and mentality rubs off on you and spurs you along. I think we’ve definitely seen that with Team Sky so far this season.
We have got a strong squad at Paris-Nice, so hopefully our run can start there.