“My first bike had a custom-built frame made of the most bog-standard tubes you could ever find. [Former ANC-Halfords rider] Paul Watson’s dad built me a bike and it was my pride and joy. I’ve still got bits of the frame hanging up in a shed.
“I raced myself and when I gave it up and got involved with the other side of the sport I’ve found it difficult to motivate myself to ride my bike. When I get the chance to not be around bikes, I kind of like to take it rather than spend all my free time riding.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
“I have spent a night in hospital thanks to various injuries when I was young and foolish and also when I had my tonsils out. I’m pretty well acquainted with hospitals.
“I’ve lived in Belgium for the past five years and I’m pretty much on the road all the time – I’ve been home for probably three nights in the past three months.
“I’m not due to have another night there until July so my home is wherever I end up parking that evening.
“I fully believe that you make your own luck, I just don’t believe in any superstitions. I really believe in karma as well: if you do something you’ve got it coming back. That’s a rule I really live by.
“With cycling and outside of it I really enjoy travelling. Last year I went to 22 different countries and I try to make sure that when I go somewhere there’s always time to see the place I’m going to and enjoy it. It’s certainly not all about the bike. It’s really nice to see what’s on the other side of the motorway sometimes.
“I don’t think I would have done anything differently in hindsight. Life’s worked out pretty well, I’m still young, I’ve been to a lot of places, done a lot of things. I’ve lived a few years of a normal life with an office job, I’ve travelled the world with my friends and now I’m doing something that’s really hard work, but there’s a lot of enjoyment in it. I don’t think things could have panned out too much better to this point.
“Eddy Merckx is the greatest ever. Lance Armstrong has done his thing with Tour riding and Alberto Contador is probably going to be up there with him in terms of Grand Tours, but Merckx is the greatest.”