Owain Doull admits that training now seems that much easier following his podium place at the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last weekend in Belgium.
Team Sky’s Doull rode alongside Geraint Thomas and Diego Rosa, free in an early escape, in Saturday’s Strade Bianche. It and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne are part of a Classics run through to Paris-Roubaix.
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“Once you get a taste for it in those semi-classics, when you are up there in the front, then it’s not hard to go home and train in sh*t weather and work hard,” Doull told Cycling Weekly.
Doull raced to 28th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and after Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) established his solo victory ride, he handled his rivals for a second place in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Doull then completed the 184 kilometres over the gravel sectors around Siena in Saturday’s Strade Bianche. His face, covered in dust, showed the day’s work that is part of his Classics campaign cumulating with Roubaix.
“[Strade Bianche] is another big one day race, another day of going through the process and fighting through the sectors and just keeping switched on in races,” Doull said.
“As a team we are petty good at that, we are always top-20 into those key sectors, so it’s just practice again. And yeah, just another hard day.”
After helping Great Britain to gold in the team pursuit at the 2016 Olympics, Doull switched to a road focus with Team Sky. The 25-year-old is slotting in a Classics roster with Gianni Moscon and Luke Rowe.
“I am happy where I’m at, to be honest. It’s a big step up from last year. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the rest of these one-days. I can take a lot of confidence,” Doull continued.
“I felt good today even with the crash yesterday and what it took out of me and then mechanical. I don’t think I would’ve been in the top-10 if I hadn’t punctured or anything like that, I think it’s a little too hilly for me this race, but it’s nice to be around those guys and in the mix.”
Doull crashed training alongside Thomas on the gravel sectors on Friday in Tuscany. His left knee and elbow suffered and his hip needed six stitches. In the Strade Bianche on Saturday, he returned to business.
“I was feeling all right. When it really started to split up on the key sector, I was in the second group, top-20, or whatever,” he said. “I felt pretty solid, but then after that I punctured it was race over. I just hacked to the finish.”
Doull finished 65th behind winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). Despite the long day and some bad luck, he could still smile and laugh.
“Actually I was taken out today when I was chasing back on by a Gucci man bag,” he added. “A man bag got caught in my lever and straight down. The most Italian way to get taken out I think by a Gucci man bag!”
Doull next races Milan-San Remo, before taking part in Dwars door Vlaanderen or E3, and then the Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix. For the next two weeks, he will not race, but train.
“We made the choice just to train now up until the Classics. I am working with a new coach this year within the team and it’s working really well so far so I kind of trust his judgement,” Doull explained.
“He thinks if I miss those races and have two weeks to fully train and to work on what I need to do for the Classics then I’ll step up another level. It’s working so far so then I trust him.”