Knox hoping for Vuelta a Espana ride after Giro d'Italia disappointment

As the Vuelta a España draws closer, young British climber James Knox (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is hoping that he will get a second chance to test himself at a Grand Tour this year.

"Fingers crossed," Knox told Cyclingnews at the start of the final stage of the Tour of Pologne last week, where – after finishing with the main group of favourites for a second straight day of serious climbing – he finished 10th overall.

Knox rode the Giro d'Italia in May, but abandoned mid-race after an eight-day battle against crash injuries. However, he has ridden strongly this summer, taking third overall in at the Adriatico Ionica Race before taking his top-10 finish in Poland.

Now, having also done some altitude training in Livigno, Italy, Knox says the signs of him going to Spain later this month are still good.

"I spent a long time away from racing after crashing out of the Giro, but the Adriatico Ionica went well," Knox said. "I was hoping for the same here, but there's a big difference in level between the Ionica and this race. So I'm never taking things for granted, but I'm happy where I am."

Stage six of the Tour de Pologne – the first day in the foothills of the Tatras mountains – was the toughest of the entire week, but Knox came through it well, albeit with some reservations.

"It was full gas all day and extremely hard, but I managed to hang in there," explained Knox. "When we hit the final climb, my legs were completely done; they were full of lactic because I'd made a big move before.

"The guys fighting for victory were going full gas, and I couldn't hold on, so I was a little bit disappointed about that. But at least I still stayed with the second group," the 23-year-old told Cyclingnews.

Knox has recently re-signed with Belgian WorldTour squad Deceuninck-QuickStep for a further two years – a deal he describes as "a weight off my shoulders".

"The team's been amazing so far," he said. "They take really good care for me. Even in a team like this, all the young guys get opportunities to race for the GC in different moments, and get to ride with some of the best pros in the world.

"Hopefully I can keep progressing for the next two years. I've never been a rider with outstanding talent, but hopefully I'll keep improving steadily. Then we'll see what happens."

It's recently emerged that, as of next year, a former Wiggins teammate and fellow racer from Cumbria in north-west England will also be in the WorldTour peloton – something Knox is very pleased about.

"Mark Donovan has gone to Sunweb, and he's a really good friend. Now we've got two Cumbrians in the peloton, so it's pretty special," said Knox.

"Cumbria's a small place, with not many people. But we're punching above our weight right now," he said.

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, 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. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.