Feeling like a pro again

Time to start thinking about next year without Sastre

Five hours in the saddle done today and I'm starting to feel like a professional bike rider again. I'm away from home right now, staying with Paul Martens, who rides from Rabobank. We've been getting in some really good training here in the Ardennes, and today was the longest ride I've done in a long while.

I'm not sure it will be enough to get me selected for the Worlds though. I know I've said before that I'd love to go but as the clock keeps ticking, time is running out for me to prove that I've got what it takes to get ready in time. Don't get me wrong, if I'm selected you'll have to rip me out of my seat on the plane to Australia but I would totally understand if the selectors chose someone else over me.

You just have to look at the riders that are already on the short list to see what a great team we've got. Well you've just got to be realistic.

I also don't want to risk my knee either. It's been a long road to recovery and I've missed so much of the season that I can deal without any more setbacks and problems. I had my last CAT scan last week and everything came back okay, no injury, no pain, and I want to keep it that way.

Saying all that, if I get the call and they want me there, I'd be there in a flash but it would probably be to work for another rider, like Robbie (McEwen) or Alan Davis. I'm more than willing to work for others.

So right now I'm putting all my efforts into getting ready for next year. I'll probably race the Tour of Britain for the first time next month, which I'm really looking forward to, and from there I'll do a few one day races in Europe.

The big news in the last few weeks is that Carlos Sastre has left the team. It was a shock to me. I had no idea that he was going to leave but I fully support the guy.

You might think that because we're on the same team, we know each other really well but I think I raced with Carlos once - at last year's Tour - and met and trained with him at camps so I don't really know the guy that well.

He was certainly one of the reasons why I came to the team, he was such a big signing and so was Thor (Hushovd) and they made a big impression influencing whom I signed for.

I first heard that he'd left the team was when I was sent an email from the team. I immediately logged on to Cyclingnews (I'm not even kidding), and it blew me away. Some people have said that he didn't have a great time here or rather his results weren't great, but he came third in the Giro (d'Italia) and won two stages, so he was pretty good. More importantly he led our team admirably and was a great ambassador for us.

I guess he's at that age where he wants to try something different and sometimes change is good for you and gives you a different environment to work in.

I don't know what the team's plans are or if they want a GC rider, but if we're fit for the Classics, we can do some damage in them. As a team, we've not had much luck this year but last year we had a lot.

Fingers crossed that next year we'll have better luck, I'll have better results and I'll be writing about my challenge for the Worlds.

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