The talented Australian cyclist talks about his current form, what Rapha-Condor-Sharp is really like, as well as his inspirations and being burgled

2011 has been good to me so far. I’m on a good run of form, and the only real difference from last year is my greater understanding of UK racing. My overall condition is similar, but I’m hungrier and more desperate to win as much as I possibly can. Looking back, I’m not sure I was enjoying riding my bike as much last year as I have done this year, so far.

We didn’t really have a specific plan for the Tour DoonHame, especially as most of the team had good form going into it, and any one of us could have won it. The team did a brilliant job once again for me, although I think it helped that Matt Cronshaw took the first stage, as it meant his Raleigh team had to do a lot of the work. The majority of the pressure was on them and not us, which always helps.

As a cyclist from Australia, you really have to love the sport a lot to make it big. To succeed you know that you’re going to have to come to Europe at a young age, and there’s plenty of other sacrifices along the way. You have to ask yourself questions at a young age to make sure that you know what you want – and from there you mustn’t stop looking forward.

I’m 23 now, and riders at my age either reach the big league or fall away. It’s all down to your strength of belief, and that keeps me going every day.

I know I’m fortunate to ride for Rapha-Condor-Sharp. There’s so much talent in the team, so you have to use that to drive you on. If you’re not up to scratch, and you don’t have the right focus, you might as well be looking for another job. Everyone knows what’s expected of them, and that reflects well on the team.

Being burgled while winning the Dengie Marshes was hardly ideal. I had my both my passport and birth certificate stolen, and  they took my girlfriend’s bike. I’ve looked on eBay for it, but I reckon some kid in Europe is riding about on it as we speak.

I’m not going to think about winning the Premier Calendar just yet. Maybe if it gets to August and I’m still in contention we’ll have a talk about how we’re going to play the final couple of rounds. If we did it any earlier it could lead to us riding negatively to keep the lead, and that’s not what we’re about. We go to races wanting to win, so we’ll keep on riding aggressively.

Of course I have dreams of riding at the top level, I’m just like anyone else in any other job. I’m extremely happy right now, as I’m not just riding well, I’m winning races, and when you start doing that consistently it enables you to start looking up. Team Sky’s Simon Gerrans is a tremendous inspiration for many reasons. Not least, he started off with the AIS programme like me, and has managed to progress to a top team.

Zak Dempster spoke to Cycling Weekly in June 2011