Three years on from the startling start to his career with Omega Pharma-Quick Step, when he won the opening two days at the Majorca Challenge, Andy Fenn will go into the 2015 edition of the Spanish race on Thursday hoping for a similar lift-off having switched from the Belgian super-squad to Team Sky.
Winless since those two victories, the 24-year-old Scot admits that his confidence has dipped since that heady beginning to his career at the top level. "I did lose confidence a bit at Quick Step, but it wasn’t all bad," he tells Cyclingnews.
"I learned an awful lot there, especially from the likes of Mark Cavendish. Working in the sprint train for him I could see that I still have plenty of speed, I'm putting out the watts that you need to be competitive in the sprints, so I know that ability is still there. It's just a case of getting some confidence back."
Fenn and his new team see the Classics as offering him the best way back to his confident best. "I'd like to make a place for myself in the Classics team and find my niche there – that's certainly what they're aiming me towards," he says.
"If I were select one objective for the year it would be to become an integral part of Sky's Classics group. That's my main goal, especially for the first part of the season, and then the sprinting will come off the back of that."
Like fellow Sky new boy Elia Viviani, Fenn is benefiting from the British team's widening of its scope. The Classics are very much in its sights, but so too are bunch sprints, with Viviani and Fenn boosting the potential already offered by the likes of CJ Sutton and Ben Swift.
"There's a good little sprint group now at Sky, and that's another thing that Sky are going to try to push. With the strong push for the Classics, that's two new things that Sky are going to do and I'm in line to be part of both of them, and it's good to be part of something that's new like that," explains Fenn.
"Obviously Team Sky is a grand tour team, that's their main focus, but the Classics and winning stages in stage races is where they are missing victories. If you compare their number of wins with Quick Step's, for instance, then there's a big difference. I think they've realised that if you get a few sprinters on board, it can help."
Fenn, who took the bronze medal in the U23 Worlds behind French duo Arnaud Démare and Adrien Petit, believes a good spring campaign will provide a boost to his sprinting. "I definitely think I can still make my mark as a sprinter. I led out a few times last year, and that gave me some more insight into what it takes to be competitive as a sprinter," says the Scot.
"Although the few times I sprinted my results weren't all that impressive, but I know from training what I can put out numbers-wise, and that gives me a good reference point now."
Fenn is set to ride the first and last days in Majorca, before heading off to the Tour of Dubai. From there, he is due to return to Europe and the end of February for Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, which are exactly the kind of races for which he struggled to gain selection during his three years with Quick Step.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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