Saturday’s Under 23 men’s road race will be Pete Kennaugh’s last event before he becomes a professional with Team Sky.
The 20 year-old from the Isle of Man has proved he is one the strongest riders in the world while racing with Academy in the last two years. He will probably be the strongest rider in the five-rider Great Britain team that also includes Luke Rowe, Jonny McEvoy, Mark Christian and Erick Rowsell.
Kennaugh admits he was overwhelmed by the emotions of riding the world championships last year.
With 24 hours to go before this year’s race, he is nervous is learning how to channel his emotions. He is ready to do well.
“Last year we had (Ben) Swifty and Jonny (Bellis) and it was kind of all them, whatever I did was bonus. I just got carried away with the whole atmosphere and I wanted to be in the race from the gun. But I know you can’t do that at the worlds at the start and finish,” he tells Cycling Weekly after lunch in the British team hotel above Lugano.
“I got away with it because I was a first year amateur. This year I’ve got to go out and perform, not just for myself but also for my team mates. I’m not really bothered what anyone else thinks it’s what I think I just hope I can do my best. I know what I can do, I just hope it comes together.”
Kennaugh rode the Tour de l’Avenir in France as final preparation for the world championships. Despite racing all season in Italy, he says he feels fresh.
“I feel fit and it’s the lightest I’ve been all season. I think I was fitter around the time of the nationals and the European champs in the summer because I’d worked so hard at the GiroBio. At the l’Avenir there was only one hilly day, and the rest was flat. However I’m a lot fresher mentally and I’ve trained well this week. I haven’t put a foot out of line for a coupler of months now. I’ve been thinking of this one big target.”
Kennaugh and the other Under 23 riders rode the Mendrisio course for the first time today. He likes it because it’s selective and testing.
“It’s some course. It’s suits a technical rider and a strong rider. After the first climb and the descent, there’s only 500 metres to the foot of the next climb. I like that because it’ll sort the men from the boys,” he said.
“There’s nothing worse than when you’re in the front group on the climb and then everyone gets back on the descents. Here if you get dropped on the first climb, you might get back on but then you’ll be dead.”
Kennaugh is expected to have a protected role in the team along with Luke Rowe. The two have raced together for years and share a room in Academy. After two seasons in Italy, Kennaugh also knows his biggest rivals.
Me and Luke ride well really together. We’ve shared a room all year at the Academy and so can read each other really well. I think that’ll be a good point for us,” he says.
“There are a lot people to watch but the Italians will be strong and especially Damiano Caruso. He’s been riding for the LPR team as a stagiaire. He’s been doing the 200km races and so will have the distance in his legs. The French are strong this year, so I think them and the Italians will be strong and control the racing.”
“I’m not scared of them though, and to be honest I can’t wait to get racing to give it a good go.”
The men’s Under 23 road race is on Saturday morning, with a race distance of 179km. The women’s race follows in the afternoon.
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