Racing the Ardennes with nothing to fear

Impressions from Amstel Gold Race and beyond

La Flèche Wallonne is new territory for me. Why I've never ridden the Ardennes is a bit of a mystery. I've always wanted to do it but for one reason and another, it hasn't happened. But it is nice to be doing something different.

I haven't really done that many one-day races other than Nationals back home in Australia and San Sebastian or Worlds (when I'm lucky enough to be chosen to ride haha!). When I was an amateur that's all we did. It can't be much different. The mentality I've taken into stage races this year is to ride as if it is a one-day thing. It's not a bad way to treat Paris-Nice or Pais Vasco. That worked until the time trial at Pais Vasco...

At Flèche I have an opportunity to do something then at Liège, it will be Froomie and we'll see what happens. I was climbing well but after Pais Vasco I went and got sick - I think everyone did - except Kreuziger maybe!

I watched Amstel Gold on Sunday and Kreuziger was quite impressive but I think that they just gave him too much leeway. It was interesting to see when Gilbert went on the Cauberg, Gerro was more than up to matching him and Valverde as well. Other than that it was the guys who have been racing well all year that were the ones up there and strong. I've raced against Kreuzinger a fair bit this year and I really wasn't that surprised that he was able to win it.

I was also happy to see my good mate Dave Tanner in the breakaway. The English commentators really didn't know who the hell he was which was a little bit sad for me. How can such a good bike rider still be so underrated? He's always there.

Alberto's down to race and I think that someone like him, despite the fact that his form hasn't been quite what he wanted, you can never underestimate him and I expect that he'll come out swinging - especially now that Kreuzinger's gone and won Amstel. That's going to do that team wonders for their confidence.

You can't look past some of the other guys like Albasini and I'll also be keen to see if Rodríguez lines up after hurting himself on Sunday. It will be much the same as Sunday though, the stronger guys will be there.

As for my own chances, why not? I'm not really going to fear anybody at the moment, am I? Tactically I don't think anybody's just going to let me ride off up the road.

We've got a good team there with the two Colombians and then there's Kiryienka. He crashed on Sunday but I think he's been the signing of the year for us. He's been absolutely incredible. But then I think people miss the work that someone like Xavier Zandio does as well. He's one of the most underrated guys in the peloton and certainly saved my arse a few times this year having him there in the team, he's just so dependable.

There was a lot of crap thrown our way at Critérium International but really, it's the oldest trick in the book to let your teammate let your wheel go. The truth is that if he'd taken the jersey in the time trial I was going to attack with two k's to go which is where I attacked anyway.

It's tall poppy syndrome and everybody wants to throw everything they can at Team Sky and question everything about the team. It's getting a bit old now. People are going to have to get over it. It's not new but in the twitter age, every Tom, dickhead and Harry's got a voice.

We're just getting on with it. We're bike riders and it's not like we're trying to save the world. Or are we? You never know...

Until next time.


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