Procycling - - Prologue -

When asked to re­view the year, whether it be my own per­for­mances or that of cy­cling in gen­eral, I al­ways seem to strug­gle. I'm not sure if it is a strength or weak­ness but I don't re­flect or dwell on what has hap­pened, pre­fer­ring to make a gen­eral as­sess­ment of what went well, what went wrong, and then fo­cus on the fu­ture. It could also be a sign that I'm get­ting old in that the sea­sons seem to meld into one now and I have to re­ally think hard as to who won which race, even my­self.

This year was in­deed special on a per­sonal level as the first with Etixx-Quick Step, a new be­gin­ning so to speak, and I'm proud of how I main­tained a con­sis­tency through­out the sea­son that I have some­times lacked. Two wins by March, a Clas­sics podium, a su­per­strong Dauphiné per­for­mance backed up by my best ride in a Grand Tour to date, with ninth at the Tour de France, all leaves me happy but in­cred­i­bly hun­gry for more. This was a sea­son in which I learned a lot about my­self, about my new team and the po­ten­tial that I have to im­prove fur­ther. Etixx-Quick Step won more races then any other team this year and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it. At the first team meetings I could feel al­ready the tal­ent that sur­rounded me, and the con­fi­dent at­mos­phere - a group of staff and riders with a habit of win­ning races. Be­lief is a huge part of the success of the team, start­ing ev­ery day with a plan and aim­ing to win the race. And as ev­ery rider knows they will get their chance at some point in the year it leads to an in­cred­i­ble team spirit. Hav­ing just got back from our first 2017 team meet­ing I think our win­ning streak will con­tinue. I just hope to up­grade some of my podium spots to con­trib­ute to the team tally.

Get­ting back on the bike af­ter the off-sea­son, and an even more ex­tended time off this year as I got mar­ried on the last week­end in Oc­to­ber, is al­ways a re­al­ity check. Even rid­ing easy for a few hours hurts but it’s also as­ton­ish­ing ev­ery year just how quickly the fit­ness and good feel­ings come back, like the body purely needs re­mind­ing of how to ride a bike. The re­cu­per­a­tion this year was needed more than ever, as I fin­ished the sea­son ex­hausted, ev­i­denced by my be­low par Il Lom­bar­dia.

Etixx- Quick Step won more races then any other team this year and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it

The fa­tigue came from hold­ing my Tour de France form un­til the Olympics, keep­ing the in­ten­sity go­ing over such a long pe­riod, and also a heav­ier win­ter last year than I've done be­fore. But it did mean I could en­joy the time off even more. For­tu­nately for me, Jess or­gan­ised the wed­ding but the stress still built up in the weeks lead­ing up to the big day.

It all made the hon­ey­moon even more special, be­cause it was one chance to truly switch off and eat and drink in ex­cess as the sea­son is still far away. In fact, now I know why it was dif­fi­cult to re­view my sea­son, as the best me­mories were not sport­ing.

Dan's podium at the Daupiné was yet an­other stage rac­ing mile­stone achieved

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