Our 2018 diarists’ final chapter
The first and main highlight this season was being part of the Vuelta a España team. The team spirit was good; the staff were great and kept the group together; Ben King’s stage wins were awesome; and it’s always nice to witness closely a real team guy having his own success. The victories took away a lot of pressure and gave the group confidence and good morale. Some days things didn’t go our way, but the way the group dealt with these situations was impressive - searching for solutions and a strong mindset of being better together. It’s also cool when a fellow countryman wins the race overall.
The second highlight for me was my own performance in the Tour of Austria, on stage 4 in particular. Okay, I did not get the result I would have liked, but the performance was reminiscent of those in the past. I had been in the break all day, and ended up alone with 5k to go. I had 40 seconds on a reduced chase group but then a mechanical forced me to stop. Could have, should have, might have, whatever... That week pro cycling felt easy for me. I was close to the top of my game.
Despite this, the season in general fell short of personal expectations, and of course team expectations. I felt a lot of pressure, sometimes stress, which wasn’t helpful to my performance. I could write a long list of excuses of bad luck, injuries, sickness or allergies, but I’m not going to. It’s normal for all riders to suffer at some stage of the season. It’s important now to learn from the mistakes, concentrate on the positives, move forward and to draw a line under 2018.
2019 has already begun for me. I’m hungry. The team has changed massively; lots of new riders and staff, bikes, equipment... I’m looking forward to new challenges, meeting and racing with new guys. I would prefer to return to a similar race programme to what I had in 2015, 2016 and 2017, which suits my strengths well. A European programme; Valencia or Algarve, Tirreno, Milan-San Remo, Basque Country, Flèche, Liège, Yorkshire, rest and rebuild for the Dauphiné and Tour. Whenever I’ve had this programme I have been able to perform close to my best all season. Racing is unpredictable and time between races gives you flexibility to adjust and move forward. When the framework is in place it’s much easier to shrug off or resolve problems that occur during any season.
Regardless of what this year’s programme has thrown at me, I have an opportunity to show myself in the best light. That’s what I’m motivated to do, and that’s what I’m planning to do. I’m excited for 2019.
The performance was reminiscent of those in the past... That week pro cycling felt easy for me. I was close to the top of my game
Steve's 2018 didn't go to plan, as repeated problems left him struggling most of the year