ET IX X QUICK STEP
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