In a contract year and with an ever-increasing stream of talented young riders joining him at Ineos Grenadiers, Owain Doull has admitted that he has to score big results on a more consistent basis in 2021.
The Welshman has been with the British WorldTour outfit since 2017, joining them a few months after he won an Olympic gold medal with the Great Britain team pursuit squad at Rio.
Since then, the now 27-year-old has largely played a team role for Sky/Ineos, although he has benefitted from opportunities to ride for his own results, such as winning stages of the Tour de La Provence and Herald Sun Tour in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Acutely aware that his contract is up for renewal at the end of this season, Doull told Cycling Weekly that it was a “fair statement” to suggest that he needs to boost his own win count.
“I don’t think I have fulfilled my potential yet,” he said. “Last year was a bit of a write-off with Covid and personal stuff going on in my life – getting through last year and racing was something I was proud of in itself.
“But as my career goes, I have still got more to do. In the past I have shown glimmers of what I can do and what I am capable of, but it’s about doing that consistently across the year and at the right times.
“I’m not old, I’m not young, I’m 27 and am in the middle ground. I am still learning but there becomes a point when you have to use the experiences you’ve gained over the years and put them into getting results.”
Doull, who is part of Ineos’ team racing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, believes that the Classics offer him the best chance of success.
Opening Weekend will mark his fifth participation in the spring races, and he is hoping that he has learned what he needed to in the past to now have an impact in the finale of races.
“Racing is about learning and tweaking things here and there, making more gains when you can,” he added.
“I’ve never been one of those talents to turn up on the scene and just win stuff from day one. It takes me a bit longer to work things out and improve on stuff gradually. It was the same on the track.
“But I make incremental gains every year and hopefully this year I can piece it together more often. If I am kicking on the door of a top-five or a top-10, hopefully the day comes when I can pull off a big one.”
Doull is also aiming to ride one of either the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta a España, and it was at the 2020 edition of the former that Ineos displayed an attacking style of racing, one they have declared will now form part of their philosophy.
“It’s better for me, for sure,” Doull added. “Being more expansive, not as structured, it’ll give me more chances. I want to take advantage of how we are now racing and how the team have adapted.
“Being a part of this team is a blessing and a curse at the same time. The roster we have is phenomenal, and every person on this team can win a bike race at the highest level.
“The roster is getting deeper and deeper and you can easily fall down the pecking order in a structured racing style.
“But with us being more fluid now, there are more opportunities to win and when they come to me I have to be smart and make the most of the chances that come my way. It’s about enjoying bike racing.”
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