Owain Doull's feet have barely had a chance to touch the ground after his gold medal ride in the team pursuit at the Olympic Games, but the 23-year-old is already putting the final touches to his 2016 race programme before embarking on a career with Team Sky.
The Welshman will ride for Team Sky as a stagiaire in Milano-Torino and the Giro del Piemonte later this month before a possible ride in the World Championships in October as part of a Mark Cavendish led squad. The Abu Dhabi Tour – again as part of Team Sky – is also pencilled in while any track ambitions have been shelved until the Tokyo Games in 2020.
"I've got two races with Sky at the end of the month, Piemonte and Torino, and then I'm aiming to get selected for the World Championships in Qatar so I can try and help Cavendish. Then I'll maybe do Abu Dhabi after that for Team Sky," the Olympic gold medallist told Cyclingnews at the start of the Tour of Britain.
Doull’s move to Sky has been public since May when his teammate and leader, Bradley Wiggins, announced the news during a press conference at the Tour of California. The move is symbolic of the relationship between Sky and young talent in the United Kingdom, with Doull's background as part of the track programme in Manchester providing an ideal transition.
"I will join properly for 2017 and 2018, and it's been good so far. They've given me space to do the Olympics and just focus on that. Now we have a plan in place for next year, and we're making that transition across for the road.
"It was the team that I wanted to go to, and it's the team I've grown up dreaming of riding for. For me, it's the best fit and it's got that same mentality as British Cycling, and the transition will be quite a smooth one."
With the track taking a back seat Doull can focus solely on his road ambitions. At Team Sky he will be given opportunities to forge a role in the spring Classics squad, and there is the aim of securing a Grand Tour spot, possibly the Vuelta a Espana, in his first season.
"The plan is quite relaxed but the talks so far have been about doing the Classics and trying to make it into the starting team for races like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix and then go from there," he said.
"I'd like to do a Grand Tour in my first year because I'm a bit older in terms of your typical neo-pro, but they've a really strong team so that might be quite hard. They've got a really strong team so that might be quite hard to do, but you might as well set yourself some good goals."
After such an intense build-up and execution of performance on the track in Rio, Doull is certain that his days on the velodrome are over for the next few seasons. Tokyo is four years away, and although the next three years will define his status on the road, the Welshman is keeping his long-term options open.
"I think that's it for me on the track until Tokyo. I want to come back as of now, but that might be different in a three years' time. I'll step away now. I'll do a few things like the Revolutions, but there won't be any major international competitions."
Doull is currently competing at the Tour of Britain as part of a six-man WIGGINS team. He was third overall in the race twelve months ago, but the demands of the track and the post-Olympic relaxation has meant that he comes into this year's edition with unknown road form.
"I don't have personal aspirations here but for the team, in general, it would be good to get someone high up on the overall like Mark Christian and Dan Pearson and then for stages we have John Dibben and Chris Latham who can mix it up and are quite fast. As a team, we're really strong. I'm looking forward to a good week.
"I had a full week off in Rio and then I came back to the UK and since then I've been riding sporadically to fit around other things. I'm going into the unknown, but I should be all right. I did a five and a half hour ride a week ago, so I'm not in too bad of a state. It's easier to play things down and then exceed expectations than to disappoint. I'm fairly relaxed."
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