Back from Saxo Bank SunGard’s inaugural training camp in Fuerteventura, Jonny Bellis says he is back to feeling like a proper bike racer ahead of the 2011 season.
Fourteen months ago the 20-year-old was involved in a scooter accident that nearly cost him his life; with a partial return to racing at the tail end of this season under his belt and having suffered no permanent damage, he is ready to fulfil all the early promise that guided him to in the 2007 Under 23 road race world championships in Stuttgart.
“I’m starting to feel like a proper bike racer again and I think I’ll move on leaps and bound. Perhaps my programme might be adjusted after I’ve got my form back but finishing races is the main goal for now. I’m not really thinking about results,” he told Cyclingnews.
Bellis started a number of races in the second part of this season, completing 150km of the GP Plouay. Next season, after another team training camp, he will make his first outing at the Challenge Mallorca in February.
“It’s five days long and it should be good for me. I have a training camp before and after that and I’ve got some racing in Belgium after that.”
Bellis has already stated that he wished to repay the faith Saxo Bank and team owner Bjarne Riis placed in him after his accident. He was rewarded with a one-year deal by the Danish team after spending a block of time training with Bradley McGee in Nice. It was the recent training camp where Bellis realised that he was back to being part of the team, however.
“It was incredibly good. Most places in Europe are covered in snow but we were able to train in summer kit. Aside from the weather everyone got on well,” he said.
The Luxembourg team
Recently the team has faced questions over unity and strength after a number of high profile riders left and it was announced that new leader Alberto Contador had tested positive for Clenbuterol. Bellis is perhaps more intone than most when it comes to battles of strength and mind however, believing that the team is still a force.
“A lot of people have asked questions because so many people have left and gone to that Luxembourg team and that it’s not going to be same but at the end of the day it’s the same people running the team," said Bellis. "I think Bjarne has done a good job of picking the right guys for the team and come next year I think it will be a good season for us.
“Some of the guys who left were big personalities and they’re not there anymore but people tend to move into different roles and some of the guys that have been here for a while have just taken on more responsibility and leadership.
"The guys who have been here for two or three years know what it’s like to be part of this squad and we’ve bonded together. By the end of the camp that’s how everyone felt.”
With Contador’s case set to run until at least January the team appears to have rallied around the Spaniard and Bellis says that they treated him like any other new recruit.
“We just treated him like any other new guy on the team. Obviously it's Alberto Contador but that didn’t even cross my mind. I think a lot of people on the team believe that what he’s saying is true," explained Bellis.
"It’s just a matter of time but either way the team will support him. I just think that the decision needs to be made sooner rather than later because I don think he knows where he stands. He’s still training and preparing as if it’s any normal season."