A race can be told in a million ways and driving home or chilling out after a tough day, this is exactly what happens. Whether it be in a team debrief with our manager, or lay on a hotel bed killing time before dinner, the crazy stories from another day in the bunch always emerge. Laughter and disbelief bounds around the hotel room, the atmosphere as electric as the bunch itself, as tales of close calls, crashes and fights animate the hours after the stage.
This season, between these shared experiences of racing, and our amazing management, something seems to have clicked at the Nations Cups. Karlsberg reflected this perfectly, our team having become such a tight unit, regardless of which individual riders rode, that others fought tooth and limb for our sprinters wheel - simply; they knew it would deliver them to the line. This might seem normal from an outside view of the Professional peloton, however I have never seen it happen to such an extent in junior races in the last two seasons.
It seems our time together on ODP camps, slogging it out in the winter months, riding and living together, as one programme, culminated in our performance in Trofeo this week. We won the team classification on every road stage, put atleatst one rider on the individual podium everyday and came away with the Points jersey on the back of Mr Fast Legs Lawless. I over the moon to see the guys who had supported me in Roubaix, Croatia and Czech take some spoils for themselves, especially Chris, who had a tough time with mechanicals in the first couple of races this season.
Personally the race proved how far I have come since last year. A third place on the final day was the only 'result' I came away with, along with twelfth on the overall classification. I was pretty disappointed with this, especially of the back of my win and top five in Istria and Czech. Yet this is just what the paper results say, when in actual fact I took so much more from the race. Leading the lads on the road and delivering Lawless for a sprint win made for without a doubt some of the most fulfilling kilometers of my entire life. Infact crossing the line watching Lawless with his hands in the air was probably the happiest moment I have ever had on a bike - the feeling of putting everything in, ten kilometers of tension and chaos, came out (very loudly) and was captured perfectly in the rather wet picture above.
Whilst possibly not greatly suited to my current strengths, it was also an amazing race. The fans, weather (mostly) and organisation were top class. But above all else, it was the way we rode as a unit that I will remember most vividly, delivering some amazing results in the process. We showed how professionally we can ride and what we have learnt from the Nations Cup series this year. I would like to think this will stand myself and all the other lads in good stead in our attempts to progress our careers in the future, however ofcourse only time will tell!
Trofeo was my last ever Junior Nations Cup. It has been an awesome journey. The forseeable future see's an all in effort to try and get selected for the GB Team Pursuit team at the World Junior Track Championships in Glasgow. Its a huge goal and one I am super excited to try and achieve.
A huge thankyou to Matt and Martyn for their help this year at the Nations Cups. And to Kathryn, for her support in Germany, whose questioning - 'is this not normal then?' - of our podium antics, really made me consider how times can change.