Procycling - - Prologue - Joe got stronger through the Giro, he was 16th on st13, 8th on st15, 3rd on st20

Af­ter a race, we all get on the bus, shower, eat, and while we are head­ing to the next ho­tel we do a team de­brief. Each rider says how they felt about the day and eval­u­ates how well he did his job. It’s a sel­f­reg­u­lat­ing ex­er­cise in that no one is go­ing to claim they put in a good day of work if they just sat at the back all day. And if they did sit in, hav­ing to own up to it means they'll likely re­dress it to­mor­row.

The aim is to let ev­ery­one ex­plain them­selves, to hold each rider ac­count­able for their job, and to look back be­fore mov­ing for­ward in an ef­fort to keep im­prov­ing. I’m now back in train­ing again for next sea­son and my time on the bike is of­ten a chance to think. I can find my­self fan­ta­sis­ing race sce­nar­ios for the com­ing sea­son, a men­tal en­act­ment of my ob­jec­tives. What mo­ti­vates me? Maybe win­ning a Giro moun­tain stage or fol­low­ing the best GC guys deep in the third week.

While look­ing for­ward can be mo­ti­vat­ing, it’s also use­ful to look back. My own de­brief, of sorts. Amaz­ingly, I’ve just fin­ished my fourth sea­son as a pro, de­spite it feel­ing like I kicked off as a fresh­man just yes­ter­day. I’d say it was my best sea­son so far, both in terms of per­for­mance and my own en­joy­ment. I felt my first two years at Sky were a wash. I was a young neo-pro lost in the big­gest team in the world, plagued by in­jury, with a lack of re­sults, and at times a lack of morale. I thought at Can­non­dale I'd be able to start over, and since then I’ve made steady progress. My first year I won my first pro race and held on to win the GC at the Tour of Utah, and I fin­ished my first Grand Tour. This year I rode strongly in the Giro and was con­sis­tently rac­ing for moun­tain stages. I was also able to hang with some of the top GC riders in sup­port of team-mate Rigob­erto Urán.

I learned a lot about the lim­its of how much train­ing and rac­ing I can han­dle, too. I'd added Tour de Suisse af­ter my Giro push, plus some fun events like the Leadville 100. I don’t have any re­grets but my sea­son exit at the Vuelta was lack­lus­tre. It was a les­son.

These ex­pe­ri­ences are the foun­da­tion of next year’s goals. I’d love to tar­get the GC at stage races, par­tic­u­larly the Grand Tours. Vy­ing for a top 10 in the Giro would be a dream. I think it’s at­tain­able. I'll keep fan­ta­sis­ing about those sce­nar­ios in train­ing this win­ter. Hope­fully I can turn them into next year’s sat­is­fied post-sea­son per­sonal de­brief.

Amaz­ingly, I’ve just in­ished my fourth sea­son as a pro, de­spite it feel­ing like I kicked off as a fresh­man just yes­ter­day

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