Season review: Owain Doull

06 Nov 2017

Season review: Owain Doull

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In the second of our season reviews, Owain Doull reflects on his first year with Team Sky.

The Welshman was struck down with appendicitis on the eve of his opening race of the campaign - the Tour Down Under, back in January - but quickly bounced back.

Here he talks the transition from the track, cobbles, racing with Michal Kwiatkowski and what's next in 2018.
Best moment of the season

Doing the Tour of Britain this year. We had a special team there. G, Kiry, Kwiato, Elia - all massive riders - and Tao who is one of my good friends. Also, for me, having appendicitis knocked me back at the start of the year and it was only towards the back end of the season that I started to feel like myself again and started riding well, around the time of Tour of Britain. It wasn’t even a goal before the race to take on the GC but I was always at the front, I did a good time trial as well and I ended up finishing ninth overall.
Most enjoyable race of the season

Again - the Tour of Britain. I just really enjoyed it this year, racing on home roads. Obviously I’ve done the race a lot in the past but this year racing for Team Sky made it a whole different beast, with the amount of support the team gets out on the road. It’s pretty special.

On the last day the weather in [Owain's hometown] Cardiff was pretty horrendous and beforehand I was a bit worried about how many people would turn up to watch the race. But it blew me away. There were so many people out on the road supporting the race and cheering everyone on, even in that bad weather. 

Then going to Maindy Flyers the day after with G to see my old club and some of the people who helped me before was really special. I couldn't believe the amount of kids now cycling at Maindy. When I was there it was just 20 or 30, but when we went it seemed like there was hundreds.
G and Doull visit Maindy Flyers

G and Doull visit Maindy Flyers

Hardest race of the season

Tour de Romandie. I’d done a big block of Classics racing, which I was really happy to do and super happy to have made the team for, but it was one race after another after another. Then we went into Romandie and I was still feeling the effects of what had happened to me at the start of the year [appendicitis], and with the weather and the general parcours, I found that one of the hardest races I did all year.

But it was another WorldTour stage race, plus I was on a race with Chris [Froome], so it stood me in good stead. I think up until Poitou-Charentes [in August] I’d done maybe 50 race days, and every single one had been WorldTour. You get sucked into a bubble and forget how high that level is, because it becomes the norm. So it was actually quite nice then to go to races like Poitou-Charentes and the Tour of Britain, which are that one grade below, and be competitive again - I was ninth at the Tour of Britain, seventh at Poitou Charentes. Being back at the front end of a bike race was nice.

Best teammate

Kwiato. He’s a really cool guy anyway, but it’s amazing to ride with him. I only raced with him a few times - the Ardennes at the start of the year and Strade Bianche, but I picked up more at the Tour of Britain. It’s how he goes about a race, how he approaches it, and how he always wants to win, all the time - it doesn’t have to be with him, but with someone. He was the most impressive and inspiring person I raced with this year.
Biggest change

Coming from a track background, where you’re aiming to peak once or twice a year, and you don’t race that much to here, where you race a lot more, was perhaps the biggest difference. I had almost 70 race days this year and obviously every race you do, from January through to October, with the Tour of Guangxi for me, you turn up and you’re expected to do a job and be at a level where you can support your teammates. That consistency is important. I think I’ve been pretty consistent across the board, but that’s the biggest step up - having that consistency.

I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve had a great year with the team and from start to finish I’ve been looked after so well. OK, I always come back to my appendicitis, but it’s a prime example for this: I missed a lot of race days, but there was never any pressure or rush to make me race any earlier than I had to.

Goal for 2018

The Classics. After doing them this year, I realised the scale of it, and how big they are, and also that if you want to be competitive, or want to get further into those races in the future, you have to put the work in. Every year you train, but until you go to those big races and see the level you have to be at to be competitive in them... It’s quite inspiring. So that’s the big one for me next year.
Best advice

I can’t think of one specific thing someone told me, but from the start of the year a lot of people have said being a neo-pro I’ll be given as broad a mix of races as possible to learn about most disciplines and before coming here I thought, ‘Ah I know about most races,’ but after doing this year I realised it’s true - you learn so much. I did all the cobbles, the majority of the Ardennes, really hilly races like the Tour de Suisse, new stuff like the Hammer Series… That broad spectrum of experience has been really good.

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