The curtain is about to fall on this year’s racing season and the biggest challenge for me right now is to stay focused for the Giro del Piedmonte and the Giro di Lombardia.
The tail end of the season is always the most difficult and the battle to stay fresh tends to be more in the mind than the body.
Just thinking about winding down is one of the worst things that you can do because you start to really convince your body that it’s time to give in to the fatigue.
I haven’t felt too tired since I returned to Girona at the start of the month and being here has helped me get into the right mindset.
There is no place like home but the difficultly with Donegal is that it causes me to unplug mentally and it’s easy to give in to distractions.
The weather in Girona has been really great for the past fortnight which has allowed me to clock up a good mixture of six and three hour spins.
I’ve only had one race since the World Championships and the riders who have been competing in the GP Beghelli, the Coppa Sabatini and the Giro dell Emilia in recent weeks have an edge now.
Races like that keep you sharp at this time of year. They are an ideal build up for a race like Lombardia so I wasn’t surprised to see Robert Gesink and Philippe Gilbert pick up wins.
I usually plan out my training schedule and routes but my approach this week was to see how I felt each morning and to organise myself around that.
There are plenty of hilly circuits around Girona and myself, Dan Martin and Lucas Euser from the Garmin team found some interesting new routes that we didn’t know existed at the start of the season.
There’s not too many people who are motivated enough at this time of year to do five or six hour training spins so I think my relaxed approach is working.
I’m looking forward to the Giro del Piemonte which takes place in the Apennine Mountains on Thursday. I’ve ridden the race three times and it’s pretty undulating for the first 150 kilometres before the 50 kilometre flat run in to the finish in Lagnasco.
The Giro di Lombardia is a completely different race and the competition to win it on Saturday will be intense given its prestige.
This will be my fourth time to ride it and it is one my favourite races. It has a string of serious climbs and the 242 kilometre distance is also going to be factor in deciding who has it at the finish.
I’m better able to cope with longer races like this than I was in the past and I’m very relaxed heading into it.
The real racing starts after 200 kilometres with three tough climbs. The legendary Madonna del Ghisallo is only 8.6 kilometre long but you need to be strong to stay in contention and to avoid the splits before the climb of Civiglio with 15 kilometres to go.
The descent on the way to the final climb of San Fermo is technical and fast and a lot can happen in the final six or seven kilometre run in to the finish at Lake Como where the wind can be a factor.
There is a lot of speculation about whether Damiano Cunego can win it for the fourth time but Gesink is in good form at the moment and he knows the final climbs well from his base in Bellagio.
I think my teammate Simon Gerrans will be up for it and the race really suits him. I thought I would be more tired going into the race but I feel good and the plan right now is to wait and see how I feel on the day.