'When it kicks off it really kicks off': Owain Doull on the step up to his first Tour of Flanders

23-year-old Welshman to get a place in Sky's Flanders team in his first year as a professional

Owen Doull at the 2017 Tour Down Under
(Image credit: Watson)

After only a few months with Team Sky, Owain Doull will find himself on the start line of the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, playing a vital support role for team leader Luke Rowe.

Doull is no stranger to the cobbles, having twice finished in the top ten of the under-23 Tour of Flanders, but says that racing over the pavé in the senior ranks is a completely different ball game.

>>> Seven things to look out for at the Tour of Flanders

"At an amateur level you can be strong enough to do what you want whereas here in the big league you've got a job to do early on because you're not going to be in contention in the final," the 23-year-old explained.

"There isn't really one single thing that's different. Everything's different - the technical side of things, the length of the races, the intensity. It's all a big step up."

Watch: Tour of Flanders 2017 essential guide

Doull didn't finish either of his first two senior cobbled races, E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem,but after working hard for the team in the early stages of both races is set to be selected as part of Team Sky's eight rider Tour of Flanders line-up.

The Welshman's inclusion is even more impressive considering the difficult start to his first season in the professional ranks, contracting appendicitis and having to have his appendix removed prior to the Tour Down Under, then suffering a nasty crash at the Abu Dhabi Tour.

>>> Owain Doull: I lost 7kgs following appendix operation

"It’s nice that the team has confidence to put me up for Flanders in my first season," Doull said.

"I’ve had a bad start to the year, so it’s great to get to the Classics and do these races which I’ve always been planning as my early season goals."

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.