Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) heads back to his pro racing roots at the Volta a Catalunya this week, the same race where he took a breakthrough ninth place overall and the best young rider's jersey in 2016, and where he's now building towards the Giro d'Italia.
Third in his first race of the season, the Faun Ardèche Classic, Carthy finished 55th on the opening stage of Catalunya with his options intact after a fast but fraught first day of WorldTour racing this year.
"The winter went all right and I'm ready to go," Carthy told reporters before the start. "I'm probably in similar form to this time last year, but at this point, everything was stopped so you never know.
"I'm happy with the form I've got, so now I want to see if I can get a result this spring."
Carthy took a spectacular victory last year on the Angliru in the Vuelta a España but his time trialling was also notably on display in the third week of the same Grand Tour, when he finished fourth in the Mirador de Ézaro stage, effectively cementing his third place overall in Madrid.
Tuesday's 18.5-kilometre time trial in Banyoles will be the first one he's ridden since then and the EF Education-Nippo rider is keen to see how it goes.
"It's an interesting length, and a pure test of your form, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes," he reflected.
As for the rest overall route of the Volta, Carthy described it as "pretty normal, every stage is more or less what you'd expect, with a couple of mountain top finishes."
But with the weather always uncertain in Catalonia to the point where stages have been cancelled in the past because of sudden snowfalls, Carthy argued that "you've got to keep in mind that today [stage 1] could be the last one in the mountains. You have to race hard for each day."
The Briton says he's got the same kind of attitude to racing this year, even if his big objective of the first half of the season will be in May.
"The main goal is the Giro, but every race I'm going to I'm going to try and do something," he promised. "Every race is going to be a focus."
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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