After a year of ups and downs in 2018, Peter Kennaugh (Bora-hansgrohe) is looking for a more consistent platform on which to perform this season, with his targets firmly set on tasting success at WorldTour level.
The British all-rounder left Team Sky at the end of 2017 and swapped the all-conquering Grand Tour team for Bora-hansgrohe. The belief was that a move away from Sky would reinvigorate Kennaugh's career, and provide him with a host of opportunities in both stage races and one-day races.
However, it took until the second half of last season for the 29-year-old to find any level of consistency. He missed several months of racing in the spring and was left playing catch-up in April and May.
A win in the Grand Prix Cerami in August provided an indication that his form was moving in the right direction but it wasn't until the autumn, and a podium at the Tre Valli Varesine, followed by an impressive showing at the World Championships, for Kennaugh to reach anything near his best.
"After my comeback it was up and down to, so to speak, with peaks and troughs. I kept thinking that I was okay and in good condition and then out of nowhere I'd have a shit day," he told Cyclingnews.
"Towards the end of the season I found my consistency but at the Tour of Poland and the Dauphiné I had massively bad days. I knew going into that bad day at the Dauphiné, when I was going to sign on, that I had nothing in my legs. I just wasn't recovering properly. The turning point was after Poland. I wasn't selected for the Vuelta but I started to find my form as a domestique and I knuckled down and found form in Canada. I surprised myself there."
In the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, the Bora rider made a late attack and came within a few hundred meters of denying the peloton. For a rider who had looked out of sorts earlier in the year, it was a key event.
The end of season spike has given Kennaugh and his team new impetus for 2019. After making a quiet season debut at the Challenge Mallorca, Kennaugh will look to hit form at the Tour of Catalunya later this spring. WorldTour races - whether they're one-day events or week-long stage races with the outlook of targeting specific stages - are where Kennaugh sees himself excelling. For a rider who has won two stages at the Dauphiné and the Cadel Evans race in the past, those goals are more than achievable.
"The aim is to be in shape for Catalunya and to go for a stage there. At UAE Tour I'll be there to help Emannuel Buchmann on the climbs and then probably Sam Bennett in the sprints. I'll go to Romandie as a goal and then to Dauphiné. They've not really put down a Grand Tour yet but if I'm going well then the Tour de France, but my focus will be on Romandie and the Dauphiné first."
Any talk of the Tour de France has been put to one side. With Peter Sagan and a number of GC options within the team, Kennaugh understands that he must earn a place within Bora-hansgrohe's eight-man squad. Winning early will mark a significant step in that direction.
"Firstly, I just want to get my hands up in the air at a big race, in WorldTour races. I'm not thinking about the Tour, more about the races leading in because they're where I'll earn a Tour place. It's going to be hard to get selected for the Tour because the team is getting stronger. For me it would be nice to get back to the Tour, because I've not been there for so long."
In order to take his chances, Kennaugh admits that he must remain motivated.
"For me it depends on emotions. If I'm motivated and up for it then I can get so much more out of myself. On the other hand, if I can't get motivated… it comes down to excitement. If I'm excited then I can get more out of it. Without that, it's hard. Maybe it's about having a trigger and being better with your emotions and more rational. I just want to be more competitive in races throughout the year."
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