Why moving to the Continental team is the best step for my career...
Well, I’ve known about the move for a few weeks now but it’s just been made official today. I’ll be heading to the An Post Sean Kelly team for next season and am looking forward to a new start there.
The contract came about from people I know recommending it to me. They spoke to Sean Kelly and Kurt [Bogaerts, general manger] about it, then they contacted me and we spoke about it. It just seemed a really good idea for me. I had been speaking to a two or three other teams but I think that even if they had wanted me, I still would have gone with the An Post team. I really think it’s the best option for me. With what I want to achieve in the next season, I think it’s ideal for me. I’m happy and really excited.
So why do I think it’s the right place to be? Well, it’s down to the race programme they have – there’s a big mix of races. There are quality races there if that is what you want to do…they got invites to some big races in 2011, such as Qatar, Oman and the Tour of Belgium. Then there’s other races a level down. It means that there’s a good programme to choose from, even if it means starting with the smaller ones and eventually building up.
There’s that flexibility there and it should be good for me, giving me the best opportunity again to re-establish my confidence again. It will allow me to prove to myself that I can do it at the level I want to do it. They also seem right behind me – there is no pressure from their side. So I appreciate Kurt and Sean giving me the opportunity to do it.
New training programme:
I haven’t done anything yet with the team, apart from some testing over in Belgium. What those results showed was that I have had two years away from the sport, in terms of the racing and stuff. It was good to get that verification.
In a situation like that, obviously you’d think you need to just train hard to get back. I think that was the wrong thing to do, though… They didn’t quite tell me that I need to take it easy, but did say that I should do a bit less than what I am doing at this point of the year. The goal has to be to rebuild things back gradually, as otherwise I would just stay at this same level and not progress as much as I would like to. That approach would just take me longer to get back to where I want to go.
After they looked in detail at the test results and what I have been doing, I now have a programme which I am going to try to follow in the next couple of months. Then I’ll go back to Belgium, redo that test and see how much I have improved.
In terms of my schedule, there is a training camp from the 13 to 20th of December in Calpe. I will get my new bike there and will meet the team as well. I haven’t spoken to Sean [Kelly] yet, but I’ll probably do so there.
Looking a bit further ahead than that, I don’t know my racing schedule at the moment. I will find more out in December at the camp. Obviously with them being a Continental team, a lot depends on invites and things. At present they probably don’t know for some races, so I will wait for a programme to be finalised.
There’s going to be a lot of new faces at the training camp, as I only know a few of the riders. I know Mark McNally, I was on the British junior and U23 programme with him for a couple of years and I have also raced with him over the years. I obviously know Mark Christian as he is from the Isle of Man. As for Jon Mould, who was also announced as signing for the team today, I know him as he was in the [British] Academy in Italy for a year and I saw him out training a few times. But other than that, I don’t know too many of the riders yet, to be honest.
As regards where I will live next season, I have spoken to the team about plans for next year. I am just going to stay in Italy. I don’t really want the hassle of moving away to a different area I don’t really know. Obviously if there is a big period of racing in Belgium, I will stay in the team house for two or three weeks because there is no point flying back and forth in such a short period of time. But I’ll otherwise just stay in Italy. I’ve put that across to them, and I think they are happy with that.
Overall, it is great to have this chance. It is a bit of a relief, particularly with the situation with a lot of guys without contracts or rides for next year. I am pretty happy with having this, it gives me a focus for the winter. Most of all it is nice to know I have a team for next year. I am really happy that they decided to take me on, and hopefully I can work well with the team.