Peter Kennaugh says he's 'coming back slowly but surely' after time off this season

The Manxman took some time off in the early season but is returning to form with an emphatic ride in the Worlds

Pete Kennaugh reflects on his 2018 season and looks to next year Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Peter Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe) says he is "coming back slowly but surely" after taking a break during the 2018 season.

Kennaugh won the GP Cerami, rode a strong World Championship race and placed third in the Tre Valli Varesine last week.

In China, he made the escape in day one of the Tour of Guangxi, all following a voluntary rest earlier this year.

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"Back in the early part of the season, I wasn't feeling, for one reason or another," the Manxman told Cycling Weekly.

"I couldn't get my head together and never felt right on the bike. I really struggled. I took some time and I'm coming back slowly, but surely."

Kennaugh pulled the brakes after the Tour Down Under in January, not returning to racing for three months.

For 2019, he wants more consistency and this winter, he plans to take less time off the bike.

At this point in the season, Kennaugh said would have already stopped racing.

"It's just that early part of the season, February to April, but if you don't go well there then everyone asks, What's up with you? But riders don't race from the Tour de France until the start of the next year and no one asks them a question," he continued.

"So it doesn't seem to be my part of the season, maybe I can correct it, maybe I can't but for some reason you get asked questions if you don't go well there but people don't go well from the Tour until the end of the season.

"Riders have peaks and troughs. Most of riders have a part of the season where they are good and others where they are not, except for Alejandro Valverde!"

The 29-year-old won the Tour of Austria and the Coppi & Bartali stage race in 2014, he reigned in a tough 2016 Cadel Evans race, and took two stages, one on Alpe d'Huez, in the Critérium du Dauphiné.

"It's a fickle sport, you are only has good as your last race," he said. "Everyone forgets what you've done in the past and just looks at the last month's racing."

Kennaugh finished 16th for Great Britain at the Worlds after he attacked on the penultimate climb to soften the competition for his team-mate Adam Yates.

"I've been good in one-days and struggled in stage races this year. I sort of had the World Champs for the second half of the season as a focus, and that kept my motivation high. With that form, I could perform well in the Italian one-days. And I still felt good here so I can't complain.

"The Worlds was really good from my point of view. I put quite a lot of effort into that race. I spent two days at home in eight weeks.

"It was good for my motivation, morale, self-belief to just be up there with the best climbers in the world."

Kennaugh meets Peter Sagan and the rest of the Bora-Hansgrohe team immediately after China's biggest race ends this weekend. They will have a planning camp in Lienz, Austria, for 2019.

"I'm motivated for next year, so that's good," he added.

"Maybe I'll focus more on the one-days and the Giro d'Italia, but it's the middle of October now and I'm in China. But that's already progression for me, usually I'd already have one month off by now!"

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.