Looking back on 2011 it was really a year of near misses. I had big results in quality races but second in Catalunya, second at the Tour of Poland - where I lost the lead on the final day due to Peter Sagan getting bonus seconds in the final sprint - and then second at Lombardia. There was, however, my first grand tour stage win at La Vuelta. I remember the stage in detail, attacking from far out, getting caught with around three kilometres to go by a strong Sky lead group, hanging on like my life depended on it before winning the sprint quite easily. I had looked at the finish before so I knew the final 100m were essentiall­y downhill. There was however a hidden story that to this day makes me angry.

I received a one-minute time penalty, something that I had never heard of before, for riding behind my team car. I was coming back from a mechanical and there was a big crash in the peloton which blocked the road and all the cars stopped. I got around the crash and was chasing back when the team car came to help me and I got penalised. In the end it theoretica­lly didn’t cost me a top 10 on GC as I finished 1:40 from 10th but it was a big blow to my morale and completely unreasonab­le.

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