Owain Doull describes his week at the Tour of Britain as being a bit surreal. By finishing in the top six on each of the four stages so far, the young Welshman is lying sixth overall and is leading the points classification going into Thursday's queen stage to Hartside. The odd aspect of the race comes, though, from having Bradley Wiggins working for him.
"It's a bit surreal having someone like Brad pulling on the front and happily taking risks for you," says Doull, about whom Wiggins has been backing as leader of his eponymous team since the start of the race.
"It adds a bit of pressure. I've been fortunate to have been sharing a room with him as well so it's like being thrown into the deep end a bit," Doull admits. "It's been a good laugh. Before this year I didn't know Brad that well, and you do have to pinch yourself sometimes when you find yourself looking up at your hero."
Doull says he's not been lucky enough to see any of Wiggins' renowned impressions yet, but is relishing the opportunity he has to gain experience from a track and road legend. He acknowledges that he's sure to call on that experience again on the Hartside stage, which he begins 14 seconds down on race leader Juan José Lobato.
"I'm surprised to be in this position as we did a big block of training at altitude in Livigno in July and August, so I came in carrying quite a bit of fatigue, but I'm hopeful about the summit finish," he says.
"From what I've heard it's not too bad a climb. I've seen that the average speed on Strava for it is 27k an hour so hopefully it's not so much of a climbers' climb and I'll go in there full gas and see what comes of it."
After the Tour of Britain, Doull's schedule continues at a pace with the Road World Championships followed by the European Track Champs. "I think I've made the team for time trial and road race in Richmond," he says. "Then it's straight back for the Europeans and the first World Cup in Calí."
He confirms that his primary goal is the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics, but is thinking of a longer-term future on the road. "After Rio I'd like to follow what people like G [Geraint Thomas], Pete [Kennaugh] and Brad have done by going from the track onto the road," says Doull, who is unlikely to be short of suitors given what his performances this week.
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