Like all of Garmin-Cervélo's riders, Daniel Lloyd has entered the team camp ready to prove that he deserves a place among the cream of the Classics riders on a team whose biggest problem, in theory, is whether there's room for water carriers and domestiques among all the stars.
Whatever happens, the English rider's 2011 season will look very different from 2010.
Last year, he started with Paris-Nice, then rode five of the Belgian Spring Classics in a fortnight, including Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem and E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, taking a break of a month before riding the Giro, Critèrium du Dauphiné and Tour de France. This heavy schedule took its toll – but he has no regrets.
"By the end of the Tour I'd done 80 days of racing, and it felt like 80 days of racing as well. From then on it was quite difficult for the rest of the season, mentally as much as anything," Lloyd told Cyclingnews.
"In hindsight it was too much, but at the time I did the Dauphiné, I wasn't down to do the Tour. It was only when Heinrich [Haussler] got injured that I was a replacement for him.
"I got through it though, and I did do the job as best I could - and I felt quite good in some stages - but I felt I could've been better if I'd had a break between each one, with slightly better preparation.
"But it was fantastic to do the Tour in the first place. I tried to make the most of it, and do what I could"
The packed programme has its advantages, however – Lloyd's last race of the season was the Tour of Britain, which enabled him to take a break, and start his winter training earlier than usual, meaning he enters the team camps feeling further ahead than he'd usually be, which puts him in a good position to be on the roster for races he really wants to ride – the Spring Classics.
"As everyone knows, a lot of riders want to do the same races. It's going to depend on people's form, the injuries, and how the management wants to structure the team."
"There's no way you can write down specific criteria and say this is what you've got to do to get a place on the team. Obviously, every race I'm going to do a job for somebody else, so all I can do is to get to the races in the best form I can, and work hard and do the job for whoever's needed.
"Obviously for the big Classics there's going to be three or four leaders – Thor, Heinrich [Haussler], Tyler [Farrar] if it comes down to a sprint in Flanders - and then below that you've got Andreas [Klier] and Roger [Hammond] and [Martijn] Maskaant and [Johan] Van Summeren.
"So already that's seven riders – after that there's only one place left; it's going to be hard to get into the team."
One thing Lloyd is certain of, he's unlikely to be repeating his year of two Grand Tours. With his wife expecting a baby at the start of May, he'll be missing the Giro and given the team time trial stage of the Tour de France is a key goal for Garmin-Cervélo, he thinks it's unlikely he'll be part of the squad for the Tour.
"I'm not one of the big powerhouses who can really pull the team at that speed on the front, so I don't think I'll be there," he said.
"It would be nice to do a Grand Tour, like the Vuelta, but there are a lot of young guys on the team who want to get Grand Tour experience as well, so I'll just play it by ear, and tell them what I'd like to do, and see what the management says."
In the short-term, his goals are to perform as well as possible in Paris-Nice and then ride Amstel Gold for the first time.
"It's a race that should suit me - the climbs aren't too long, they're kind of punchy. It's quite a big challenge for me, and I want to be in top shape.
"I'd also like to step up in one of the smaller races where there isn't an out-and-out leader to ride for, and try to do something for myself – where that will be I don't know.
"Whatever the team tells me to do, I'll have to do that to the best of my ability, and if I'm going well, then hopefully they should choose me."
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