Now I'm in New York

Jay Z, the Big Apple and California dreaming...

In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can't do,
Now you're in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York

Not my words but those of rapper and global phenomenon Jay-Z but as you may have guessed, I'm in New York and it really is one of the most amazing places in the world. I'm here doing some sponsorship duties for the team but of course taking a little time out to relax, see the sights and be with my girlfriend.

We've been going to great restaurants and meeting some really interesting people around the team. The food has been great too. Last night we went to a restaurant called the Strip House. It's a fantastic steak house and I can honestly say it was one of the best meals I've ever had.

And as you should know by now, I'm back on the bike and starting to build up my fitness. It's tough, as I'm starting from scratch but my batteries are charged, my morale is high and my hunger is back. I want to get fit and I want to get racing.

I have to measure my efforts carefully though, and as you know; you have to walk before you can run. After New York I'll be travelling to Colorado Springs with my teammates Dominique Rollin, Bret Lancaster and Jeremy Hunt. We'll be doing so really long but steady rides at altitude.

They're in top form after a strong Classics campaign but I'll have to be in good shape if I'm going to race with them at the Amgen Tour of California...

That's right. I'll be racing the Amgen Tour of California this year. It's another reason why I'm so happy right now. It looks like a great race; a hard race but one that will really help me improve my form. From there I'll do the Tour de Suisse and then the Tour de France.

I'm really looking forward to California, though. I really want to get back on the bike and start racing and it's a great event to have as my comeback race. Every race is hard but it will be good and I'll have a lot of solid training in my legs by then. I know I'm not going to have a chance of winning but I'll be getting the racing in my legs and I take it from there.

Right now, we're heading along Madison Avenue (I'm in a car, not on a bike). If you've never been to New York you have to come. I'll be honest; my preconceptions of it weren't great. I thought there would be gangsters on every corner but in reality it's clean, everyone is friendly and there's always something to do. I thought there were gangsters on every corner but it's the total opposite.

I can't tell you how good it's been to get away from Europe and everything there. These few days in New York have given me the motivation I need to come back and I'm ready to pick myself up. As Jay-Z says:

There's nothing you can't do,
Now you're in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,

Roll on California, roll on Tour de France

Oh, and my tip for Amstel is Valverde. I was spot on for Paris-Roubaix so let's go for two out of two.

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