Kennaugh may leave Team Sky at end of season

British champion weighing up options

British national champion Peter Kennaugh has some big decisions to make in the coming months as his contract with Team Sky is set to expire at the end of this year.

The 25-year-old from the Isle of Man has ridden his entire professional career with the British WorldTour outfit, but he told Cyclingnews on Wednesday at the Tour of California that he's busy weighing his options for next year.

"I've been talking to a few teams, but ultimately it's just where it's best for me to go," Kennaugh said. "I've just got to decide what the future holds for me also, you know, what I want to do, if I want different goals and different objectives.

"I've been doing sort of a similar thing for the last couple of years now on Team Sky since I focused on the road after the track since 2013. Ultimately it's going to come down to my decision, where I see myself for the next few years and what sort of motivates me as well. Nothing's been decided yet."

Asked if he wants to return to the team where he's ridden since 2010, Kennaugh replied simply that he is open to seeing what other teams have to offer in terms of race programs and roles in races. But he added that he has told his manager he wants to wait until after the Tour de France before he focuses on next year.

"I've had three weeks off in March due to injury, so I'm on my way back up to my fitness now and I go straight to Tenerife from here for an altitude training camp before the Tour – so he's been in touch with me about other teams, and I just said until after the Tour de France I kind of just want to focus on making that team and getting the form and the right place," Kennaugh said.

"That's the objective now, and then after the Tour then we can sort of focus on what the next two years have to offer."

Kennaugh's immediate focus is placed on the Tour of California, where he is currently 11th overall after three stages. He said the 2.HC event has gone well and the temperate weather has been nice so far, but the racing is more stressful than he was led to believe it would be.

"All the teammates said, 'Oh, yeah, it's a really relaxed race. There's no stress.' But I'll tell you what, it's been one of the most stressful races I've done all year with the potential for crosswinds everyday," he said. "And I think all the American teams are all really hyped, and they all feel like they have a point to prove. So it's been stressful and hard racing so far."

That comfortable weather could take a turn for the worse on Friday during the Big Bear time trial, however, with forecasts calling for cool temperatures, rain and several inches of snow. Kennaugh is taking it all in stride, but he did question the wisdom of slotting the time trial into a high-altitude location like Big Bear, which sits at more than 2,100 metres of elevation.

"I think it's a shame that the time trial is at altitude also because if you haven't been on a two or three-week altitude camp you can't compete," he said.

"For me, I've just been training at sea level all year. I'm not going to be able to compete with the guys who have been at altitude in that time trial, and I'll just lose my place in GC, so it's really a shame that the organisers put the time trial that high in the first place. To me it just doesn’t make sense."

The following day's Queen Stage that finishes on Mt. Baldy could also prove to be another challenge for Kennaugh.

"I think I might struggle again with it being so high in the mountains," he said. "But we'll see. I'll just give it my all, and I think the main goal for us is to make sure Sergio [Henao] is OK. He's going really well, and we'll just see what we can do with him."

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