Now we have been confirmed for the Tour of Britain, focus is firmly set on prepping for September.
Last year was my 10th ToB, so I thought I would look back on my highs and the lows from the biggest race on the British calendar…
I guess it always depends how the race pans out to how hard a climb is. But in terms of gradient, difficulty etc it has to be Constitution Hill in Swansea.
It’s one-in-four (25 per cent) and cobbled. During the 2010 race we went up it in the finale and dropped down into Swansea centre to finish.
The day was hard all day, then the fight to reach the climb in a good position and the wet cobbles made it a real test.
There are plenty to choose from and I’ve been really lucky over the years to be surrounded by some great guys and talented riders.
For pure morale, entertainment and brute strength is has to be Ian Wilkinson. For ultimate support when needed during decisive moments, Jack Bauer.
For all-round team player and ultimate room-mate, my best man Dale Appleby. The list could go on and on.
I’ve ridden editions of the ToB with Hank [James Lowsley-Williams] and [Chris] Opie, and they are both great guys to be around both on and off the bike.
Day two of the 2013 edition. It was a hard and hilly day in the Lake District but what made it the hardest was the cold.
We had rain after 15km of the 190km and the temperature dropped to three degrees. I had to stop with the car to put extra layers on until my wet bag was empty.
Riders were crashing because of the cold and the wet, riders abandoned, it was just a matter of survival.
Rain – I can deal with. Cold – I can deal with. But both together, no thank you!
I remember getting into the bus and seeing the boys bundle in with faces changed from the cold. Never have I been so happy to step into a warm shower.
All the way back in 2004, the first edition of the race and my first ever pro race. Stupidly I went in a break of three on stage one.
A 180km day from Manchester, over the hills of Lancashire and back. It was a really stupid decision but a brilliant experience.
I have also tried to target my ‘home’ stages for a breakaway. So last year, when it went 5km from where I grew up, there was no way I wasn’t getting up the road.
Friends and family screaming at you as you head the race, what a great feeling.
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT
This is an easy one. On the roll out of Bath during the 2014 tour, I was getting a bit warm, so decided to whip off my base layer.
Instead of stopping, I just took off my jersey, gave it to former team-mate Jack Bauer, peeled my vest over my head, pulled my bibs back over my shoulder, then looked up to see Jack riding down the bunch with my jersey.
So there’s me, chasing him down the bunch with Wilko following me rallying up the crowd shouting “he’s got no top on”. I like to think the ladies were impressed with my skinny white body!
What added insult to injury was the fact he dropped all the food out of my pockets, so for the first 80km (which was full gas) I just had to rely on my bowl of porridge at breakfast to get me through! Lesson learned.
I guess it was my eighth place overall in 2010, along with best Brit. It was a real breakthrough year for me and to finish the season off with a result like that was the icing on the cake.
Before then, I’d placed top 10 on some stages but had never had a good result in the general classification.
As a British team, the Tour of Britain is one of the biggest showcases our sponsors will get.
It’s a time for the fans to come and meet the British talent along with the global stars they saw on TV at the Tour de France.
The race has grown year-on-year and now it’s not just the climbs that are strewn with spectators, they scatter across the entire route.
This year will be my 11th and to top it off, it finishes in my current home city, Cardiff. If all that combined isn’t motivation enough, I don’t now what is!