Nearly three months into the season, at the Volta a Catalunya, Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) has finally found himself where he has wanted to be since the start of 2016 - signing on at a race and finally getting down to his usual day-job.
Barguil was one of the Giant-Alpecin riders caught up and inured in the appalling crash at the start of the season that saw various riders hurt when a driver ploughed into their training group on a mountain road near Alicante in Spain. The 24-year-old suffered a fractured scaphoid.
After weeks of delays to his season, at the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Monday, Barguil was able to return to racing. It's his first event since Il Lombardia last October.
"I'm happy to be back," Barguil told Cyclingnews as he waited outside the Giant-Alpecin team bus in mild sunshine before the start. "It was not easy that moment because it happened to the whole team."
"It was bad. For sure we will never forget it. But we have to look forward, rather than back now."
Barguil said that the accident, in which, he has said in earlier interviews, he and his team-mates could easily have died, has change things for him. "I really enjoy life now, it’s changed my mind about some things."
HIs condition, he says, is good in training, but "we won't really begin to know what my form is like until after this stage, and then progressively as the week of racing. You can train good but it's only the racing that can show you if you’re good or not." His previous best overall performances in Catalunya were an encouraging ninth in 2014, when he placed eighth on one of the toughest mountain stages, to Vallter, and 17th last year.
"This is a nice race to start with because it's less stressful than Paris-Nice or Tirreno, and it's good for the climbers. I hope I will have the legs to follow wheels for now and maybe go for a result, but for my head, just being able to follow wheels is important."
After Catalunya, Barguil heads to the Vuelta al País Vasco, followed by all three Ardennes Classics. "Those Classics are where I want to be at 100 per cent. That's my big goal for now."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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