Harry Tanfield (Katusha-Alpecin) did not expect to finish so well in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and line up on the front row on stage two, wearing the white jersey of best young rider and chatting next to Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.
The Brit time trialled to 12th on the opening day in Spain, 20 seconds behind winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and right ahead of Team Sky's Thomas.
"I was surprised," Tanfield told Cycling Weekly. "I came from the Challenge Mallorca not feeling so great, but I had training. I had a pre-race ride, and another hour in the morning and I didn't feel very good. And I rode the TT bike only one time before that."
Tanfield paced himself well over the first nine kilometres and saved enough for the final 900-metre burst to Orihuela.
"Thirty seconds in the radio wasn't working so I was riding on speed and feel. I knew if you spanked yourself too much before the climb then you'd be dead on the climb. I made sure I had gas left on the climb, just going two minutes flat-stick up. My heat rate was 200," added Tanfield
"I rode down and got lost in the town, when I was back within radio range, I heard I had to go back up for the white jersey. I wasn't even racing for it.
"Besides the jersey, they gave me flowers and a real nice framed photo of Eddy Merckx. Now the flowers are in a water bottle in the team bus, so I hope to take them back home to my girlfriend."
Tanfield only turned professional this winter. Valenciana was his second race after racing two days in the Challenge Mallorca. He'll take home the white jersey and put it with those he collected in the 2018 Tour of Yorkshire.
He chatted with Thomas ahead of stage two, who told him how he'd been training in Los Angeles. Then, Tanfield returned to reality.
"It was back to reality today, I'm a fat rider with no power! At least I had the jersey on and had some fun," he continued.
"I was dispatched on the first few ramps [of stage two] and getting myself in to the gruppetto. And I'm thinking about the time cut already tomorrow [stage three].
"I need to lose my 5kg. It's fine on the TT but I can't ride all flat races all year. I'm 82-84kg now, I need to be 78-79kg. The irony is that in Cycling Weekly last month I said wasn't too fussed about it.
"Now, I've got to get myself at a level where I can finish these races. If you don't finish them you won't get training benefits from them. Had this TT been on day four, I wouldn't have made it to it."
Tanfield will leave Valenciana and possibly race the UAE Tour next or the opening weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in Belgium. He wants to race and gain as much experience as possible with the eye on the British National Championships time trial this summer and earning a spot for the Worlds team in September.
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