O RICA BIKE EXCHANGE
This was our best ever season. We won the first WorldTour race of the year, stage 1 of Down Under with Caleb Ewan, and we won the last WorldTour one, Lombardia with Esteban Chaves. In between, we won Paris-Roubaix, finished on the podium in the Giro and Vuelta, and at the Tour we won a stage, placed fourth on GC and took the white jersey.
We opted to do fewer races this year. In 2012 we did 265 race days, now we do 220. You might think we’d get fewer wins but we got 28, 17 of them WorldTour. The reduction helps us all stay motivated and fresh to the year's end.
We kicked off well at Down Under, which we won for the third time. There’s pressure because it’s our home race but we dominated it, with four stage wins and the GC.
Mat Hayman’s Roubaix win was a highlight. It wasn’t a surprise, because he’s run top 10 in that race twice before, but what was amazing was his run-up to it. Mat broke his elbow at Het Nieuwsblad in February. He couldn’t ride on the road so he spent four weeks on his turbo, training like a madman, with only two races in Spain before Roubaix. It was unorthodox but the big thing was that he went in to it carefree. He went with one move, got an armchair ride and was still fresh when the big boys came across. Then he rode a tactically astute final. He’s 16 years a domestique – no matter what else happens, he’ll always have that cobble. We went to the Giro confident Esteban could do well. It was gutting that he was so close to winning and I think he’d have taken it if he hadn’t got sick. But then again, Kruijswijk would have won if he hadn’t crashed. Second place and the queen stage was still a big breakthrough for Esteban.
At the Tour, our goal was to win a stage and support Adam Yates in the GC. He dealt with the pressure superbly. On Ventoux, he didn’t want the yellow jersey. Rightfully, he should have had it. I was like, 'P*ss off, we’ll take it', but he didn’t want it that way.
The Vuelta was our best Grand Tour – four stage wins and two in the final top six. Esteban never gave up and he took third off Contador on the last climb. Then he kept his form to win Lombardia.
Two years ago we didn't ride many races for GC – just Down Under and a few others as that was all we could manage. Now we have a chance at any race we go to. Next year we'll ride GC at all three Grand Tours. We've come a long way.
Mat Hayman’s Roubaix win was a highlight… He's 16 years a domestique – no matter what, he'll always have that cobble