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"Obviously the Classics squad is massively strong and that's where I'd like to try and start, and see how I get on in those style of races. I think those one-day events are what I'm more suited to."

Photo: Sirotti




17.08.2016 @ 08:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It's an incredible time to be a fan of British cycling, with Owain Doull representing one of the leading lights in a new wave of emerging talent.


Seemingly unfazed by the massive pressure of riding for gold at his first Olympic Games, Doull was ever-present on the way to Great Britain winning the men's team pursuit title.


A prodigious talent on the track, Doull has only just begun to scratch the surface of what he can achieve on the road - the place he will be turning his attention with Team Sky next season.


When asked what type of rider he'd describe himself as, the 23-year-old told


"I think I'm a bit of an all-rounder, in the sense that I can do quite a lot of things. I can climb okay, I can sprint okay, but for the last few years I've been so focused on the track that I haven't really explored those pathways yet. So I'm looking forward to developing as a rider at Team Sky and I think it's the perfect way to learn.


"Obviously the Classics squad is massively strong and that's where I'd like to try and start, and see how I get on in those style of races. I think those one-day events are what I'm more suited to. Seeing the passion of the fans and things like that - it's just cycling epitomised. Those are the kind of races I love to watch and hopefully be competitive in one day."



In 2014 Doull bagged a top-five finish at the under-23 Tour of Flanders, showing not only great versatility, but a glimpse of what the future might hold. Excitingly for the Welshman, the pathway he's on is already well trodden, with proven success stories in the form of team-mates he'll be lining up alongside, as early as the end of the 2016 season.


"I think there's a lot to be said for riding the track," he explained. "A lot of guys start out on there and then go onto big things on the road. All you've got to do is look at the squad we had for Rio - and the guys coming back in from the road with Brad (Wiggins) and Cav (Mark Cavendish). Plus people like G (Geraint Thomas) and Pete (Kennaugh) and what they've done on the track. I think it just gives you a different skillset as well. Obviously (Elia) Viviani rides the track too and you can see how good he is in the bunch.


"You can take a lot of stuff away from the track, because you only race three or times a year maximum, and you have one big event per year. So you learn to have real focus and work towards that one event, hitting an optimal performance for that one day. Obviously that's how Team Sky operate too with races like the Tour."


Pulling on the Team Sky jersey has been of goal of Doull's ever since the team first hit the road back in 2010. "When Team Sky formed I was 16 years old and I'd just started racing properly as a junior. It's always been a bit of a boyhood dream to try and join Sky. So to finally be at a stage where I'm about to start racing for the team, and then joining the team properly in 2017, is a bit surreal.


"I've ridden against Sky at some of the bigger races like the Tour of Britain for team Wiggins. To see how they operate is pretty special. I've also been watching as a fan how the team race, tuning into races like the Tour and seeing how the riders go about that. It's something that's incredible to watch, and the way they approach big targets with all the preparation towards it - it's the next level really."



Conversely the team saw first-hand just how much potential Doull has on the road last year when he stormed to a phenomenal third overall at the Tour of Britain.


Remembering back he admits: "That was definitely my breakthrough ride. Going into it I was kind of hoping to be competitive, and maybe I'd pick a few stages to try and get up there on. But to end up third overall, with I think just one day where I was outside the top 10, was a big shock to me personally and I think to a lot of people. I was always in the mix regardless of terrain or conditions, but I'd trained hard for it and it was the first time where I'd been given a bit of free rein to focus on that.


"It was my big goal of the year, because I knew going into 2016 everything would be focused on Rio. That was my only opportunity to have a good crack at a high level road race, and obviously Tour of Britain is a massive race anyway. So to do that, racing on home roads for Brad's team, was pretty special."


With a pro WorldTour contract and the exciting challenge of stepping up on the road, Doull is hoping he can try to emulate the achievements of, among others, his countryman Geraint Thomas.


"G is someone I've always looked up to, obviously being from Wales, and going through the same pathways as him with the Maindy Flyers back in Cardiff. We've also both been on the Olympic Development Programme and things like that. I first really got into cycling because of the Beijing Olympics and it was great to see what he did there in the team pursuit. Then to see how he's developed as a rider in the last eight years, going from Olympic gold medallist to Classics winner to Tour de France contender. It's massive. That kind of versatility, the same as Brad - someone who can do it all - those are the athletes I look up to most."



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