Rory Townsend focused on the Tour of Britain and admitted: This is a bonus.
The 23-year-old Canyon Eisberg talent has struggled to build up a head of steam in a season blighted by injury.
A broken collarbone and niggling wrist problem have left him unable to build on superb campaigns in 2016 and 2017.
Over the past month he has started to find some rhythm – with encouraging rides at home and abroad.
Time is running out, though. Not that Townsend is one to panic about results as the season draws to a close.
He is, however, relishing the chance to finally put his form to good use against the best in the world next week. He said:
“I have barely raced with all the injuries I have had. I have had good legs all year, I just haven’t been able to get them through the bike.
“The hardest thing is trying to fight when you are not 100 per cent. It is so hard to give it your all, when your all is not everything you have got.
“To go into a race and think even if everything goes perfectly here, I probably won’t come out with a result. That has been a hard thing to deal with.
“It is the first year I haven’t improved on the season before. And it is not possible to change that in a week, I have to look forward to next year.
“So I don’t have any massive personal aspirations now. I am happy with my form and I know I am going well, so it would be a shame not to use it.
“If you’d asked me a month ago whether I would do the Tour of Britain, I would have said 100 per cent not. This is a bonus.”
Having raced back from a broken collarbone, Townsend finished his maiden Rás Tailteann in May – sprinting to seventh place on stage five.
Following further time off in June, there were glimpses of his quality as he recorded top-10s at the Sheffield Grand Prix and Barnsley Town Centre Race the following month.
He franked that form by claiming a first win of the season at the Stafford Grand Prix before finishing eighth at the 1.2 Antwerpse-Havenpijl.
That’s when things really kicked up a gear – with the south east regional crown sandwiched between a series of outings on the continent, including the 1.1 Omloop Mandel-Leie-Schelde Meulebeke where he finished 19th.
Townsend made his debut in the Tour of Britain last season – spending almost 200km up the road on the longest stage from Kielder Water & Forest Park to Blyth.
Now he is looking forward to his return. And he reckons the parcours could make this renewal a thriller. He added:
“I’m more excited than I was last year. Back then I had just had a major crash and didn’t know how I was going to be.
“It turned out I had a hairline fracture in my pelvis, so the race was a bit of a write-off in the end.
“I pretty much squeezed all my work into one day – and it was probably the worst day to be in a break!
“This year it feels like there are more opportunities. It looks much more like an unpredictable British race.
“Hopefully, it will be a lot more entertaining and a lot more open, which is certainly what we want and what I believe people watching want to see, too.”