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Philip Deignan made his Sky debut at the Tour Down Under
Irishman looks to make Sky's Giro d'Italia squad
The Irishman ploughed into the back of car while training in Monaco earlier this month and missed the following 10 days of training and racing. It was the second time in five months that Deignan had broken a collarbone - this time it was his right one – but he is now back on the bike.
"I had a week off, but I've done a couple of days on the trainer and today was my first ride out on the road," he told Cyclingnews a few hours after his first ride.
"It felt pretty good. The break was in a bad place in terms of where to operate, so we decided to just let it heal naturally. It feels okay and I can train with it. Could have been worse in terms of the break."
The crash occurred at a roundabout with traffic ahead slowing down and leaving Deignan unable to stop in time.
"There was a backlog of cars braking, and I didn't have time to stop and just went into the back of a car. Like a lot of cyclists, I was probably riding a bit too close to the car. It was slightly downhill, so it was at 50, 60kph."
Despite the crash Deignan has settled in at Sky during the opening months of the season. Based in Monaco with a number of his teammates, he made his debut for the team at the Tour Down Under last month.
"Everything is very professionally run, as you would expect, and it’s a great group of guys. They've all been friendly and there are some really good personalities on the team. I've fit in pretty well."
His move to Sky almost happened in 2010 just ahead of Sky's inaugural season. The Irishman had finished in the top 10 in the Vuelta in 2009 and picked up a stage win in Castilla y Leon. It prompted an enquiry from Sky, who were busily building a team from scratch. Deignan was reluctant to leave the team he rode for at the time, Cervelo, and opted to sign a new contract with the ProContinental team.
Twelve months later, and on the eve of the Vuelta the team were told they were to be disbanded with Deignan signing for RadioShack on a one-year deal. A successful two-year stint followed at UnitedHealthCare before Sky came knocking for the second time.
"I almost came here in 2010 but I decided to stay at Cervelo," Deignan told Cyclingnews.
"It was just one of those things. It was a difficult decision to make at the time but I'd had a good year with Cervelo and I thought if it wasn't broke don’t fix it. It’s great to finally sign here though."
The Giro d'Italia
Now back on the road and building his form once more, Deignan is confident that he can earn a spot on Sky’s Giro squad.
"It's going to depend on the next couple of weeks and how the training goes. The fact that I've only missed 10 days means that I shouldn't have lost a huge amount of fitness. I should be able to get back up to speed relatively quickly and hopefully the Giro is still on. We’ll see next week as to where we are with the race programme."
Should he make Dave Brailsford's nine-man cut, Deignan will be tasked with supporting Richie Porte in the mountains. Porte has already stated his intention of challenging for the maglia rosa and has impressed this season so far along with a number of strong riders.
"The Giro starting in Ireland is obviously huge for me and a big objective for the first half of the year. The team are sending some strong guys to support Richie, and he’s going there to try and win. We all know what our job will be and I'm hoping I can be one of the support riders for him in the mountains. Everyone knows what Richie is capable of and he’ll definitely go to the start as one of the favourites," Deignan said.
He may not have started a Grand Tour since the 2010 Vuelta a Espana but when asked about whether he can see himself ever pushing for a top 10 place in GC ever again, Deignan prefers to talk about the team’s overall ambitions.
"At the moment, it’s not something I'm really thinking about. Right now I'm just focusing on the job I'm required to do on this team. I get more satisfaction, if I'm honest, from trying to help a leader win the race rather than me trying to scrabble into the top 10."
"I'm at the stage in my career where I feel more satisfaction out of that role."