Kennaugh turns season around with series of strong performances

Peter Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe) will only end his 2018 season with the Hammer Series in Hong Kong and the Tour of Guangxi in China next week, but is looking forward to racing as much as possible after an inspiring ride at the recent World Championships road race in Innsbruck left him hungry for success and more motivated than ever.

Kennaugh went on the attack during the final lap of the tough Olympic circuit in Innsbruck, Austria, thinking he was riding for Great Britain team leader Simon Yates. When he realised Yates had already cracked, Kennaugh fought on and finished 16th, in the exclusive company of Colombian Nairo Quintana, Kiwi George Bennett and Australia's Jack Haig. Kennaugh was also caught just before the line in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec but the Worlds was his motivational eureka moment after a difficult season at Bora-Hansgrohe, following eight years at Team Sky.

On Tuesday he ensured he was in the key break in the finale of Tre Valli Varesine and made several attacks before finishing third behind Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in the sprint.

"It would have been great to win, but it felt really good to race like that," Kennaugh told Cyclingnews with a smile.

"I've perhaps suffered with not enough self-belief in the past, but my ride at last weekend's World Championships really helped me to have more confidence in myself. Cycling is a lot about self-belief. It's going to be nice to take that into the winter."

The 29-year-old Manxman missed a large chunk of the spring due to illness and a subsequent fight to find his motivation, failing to secure a place in the Bora-Hansgrohe team for the Tour de France alongside Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka.

Kennaugh seemed set to ride out the season in a cloud of anonymity but suddenly saw the light after Innsbruck.

"Especially after the way the first part of the season went, with one problem or another, it's good to finish on a high and keep the motivation up and still be keen to train. The opposite has happened in the past, many a time. I've gone well during the Tour de France period, or have gone all in for the Vuelta a España, and then you almost come to a stop straight away. The opposite has happened this year."

With a broad range of cycling talents that span from the team pursuit on the track, to third overall at the 2009 under-23 Giro d'Italia, to being part of Team Sky's Tour de France squad, Kennaugh has often fallen between stools. Leaving the comforts of Team Sky was a big but necessary step for Kennaugh to rediscover himself as a rider.

He won the Grand Prix Cerami one-day race on his return to racing in the summer and made a strong solo attack at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec that almost came off.

"I perhaps started the sprint a little bit too far back, even though it was a small group. I thought I should hold back a little, but it was a fast finish," Kennaugh said of his third place in Varese on Tuesday.

"When I made the move and was on my own up front, I thought the whole peloton was coming up from behind and that Rigoberto Uran [EF-Drapac] was the first of them. Then when I saw that the other guys were still ahead of the bunch, I was able to recover, and then just went again and had a go in the sprint.

"Next season I'll maybe focus more on one-day races because they seem to suit me," he said.

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