The racing season is finally over and I’m looking forward to at least four weeks break after one of my most satisfying years in the professional ranks.
It’s fantastic to be at home in Donegal without having to think about getting out on a bike for two or three hours.
I travelled straight home after the Tour of Lombardy and I plan to stay here through to the start of the New Year.
It has been a long season and I wasn’t surprised that I was not feeling my best at the start of last Saturday’s race.
My legs were slow to come round and you need to be pretty fresh to do well in a race like Lombardy after nine months racing.
The race opened up on the climb of the Ghisallo after the bunch caught an early four man break which included Nicholas Roche.
I was in good shape coming over the top of the climb with 44 kilometres to go, riding with the lead group of Evans, Gilbert, Basso, Sanchez and Cunego.
I wasn’t missing that much on the penultimate climb of the Civiglio but that little bit of tiredness set in and I didn’t have it in the legs for the final 16 kilometres.
It was great to see that Dan Martin still had the form to go with a breakaway and to stick with the chasers to finish 8th overall.
Finishing another race of almost 250 kilometres so late in the season was a positive for me and I was happy enough with 40th overall.
Looking back I know now that I’m able to race over that distance whereas before I couldn’t and I wasn’t there at the end of a 250 kilometre race. That’s a big step forward.
I certainly feel like I have moved up a level this year and riding the Giro and the Vuelta in the same year was a valuable experience in terms of developing overall as a rider.
Winning a stage in the Vuelta is the obvious highlight of the season but completing two Grands Tours taught me a lot about the levels that I can go to and how my body can cope and recover well.
It was definitely a great test to race from February through to October and I’ve managed to be very consistent throughout the year which was another important goal to achieve.
Part of my success this year is down to the fact that I took a decent break last year and I felt the benefit almost straight away when I started back training.
I felt so much stronger at the start of this season than previous seasons and that also comes from developing each year as a rider.
Listening to my body is something I’m perfecting much more and I know that I need a minimum of four weeks off the bike, so I’ll start back training at the end of November or at the latest December 1st.
The plan now is to chill out in Donegal, to relax with my family, whom I’m looking forward to spending time with having been away so much, and to having a few beers with friends.
I’ll probably be 10 kilos heavier at the end of all that and may just have to draw the line at putting on five or six kilos. You’re always thinking ahead in cycling so don’t be surprised to see me on the road for the occasional spin during the off season.