For the majority of Australian riders in the peloton, Girona has become a home away from home. Andorra has started to challenge the Spanish 'cycling mecca' in recent years with the added advantage of altitude.
For Miles Scotson, Spain wasn't a consideration when it came to packing his bags and setting up base in Belgium for his first year in the WorldTour with BMC Racing. The move has paid off for Scotson as he enters the final month of his neo-pro season with the American team.
The 2017 season started in dream fashion for Scotson as the 23-year-old ambushed his more experienced rivals in the final kilometres of the race to steal the Australian national title. While the win immediately took the pressure off, wearing the green and gold jersey has also helped Scotson to assert himself in the peloton and build his reputation.
"Just to be a little bit more known can go a long way actually. In the peloton sometimes as a young rider, you want to build a good reputation as well and that is something I try to do," Scotson told Cyclingnews. "In the WorldTour, some riders can get off to a bad start and sometimes a bad reputation in the bunch can stay with you forever. I am already a bit known and I try to fit in well as I know it can be a long career. With the national jersey, I have had guys come up to me in races and ask how I am going and in the early season congratulate me on the national title. I think that was one of the better things about wearing that jersey."
Having completed a full schedule of race days in Australia to start his career, Scotson's focus turned to the cobbled classics. Having impressed the team with his work and dedication to the classics as his Belgium move suggested, Scotson earned selection for Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix.
"I've forgotten how many times I've stayed up late and watched Roubaix before," he said. "Afterwards, I realised how special it was more than when I was riding it. Those two races were another level and made me respect other Australians like Mat Hayman or Stuart O'Grady who have come over and won a race like a Paris-Roubaix. Now I have more respect for what they did."
With tendentious ruling him out of Gent–Wevelgem and Dwars Door Vlaanderen ahead of Roubaix, Scotson was initially unsure how he'd fare at the 'hell of the north'. However, Scotson found the race suited to his capabilities was able to enjoy the win by teammate Greg Van Avermaet.
"The race felt a little in my comfort zone, which was is weird for a race like that and doing it for the first time," he said. "I was lucky enough with the team that let me do some recons alone with the manager so I was fairly well prepared for my first one. After the race, I had a feeling that this is something one day I can really target. The way the race is and many things about it suit me."
With his early-season built around the classics, Scotson's calendar has since featured predominately stage races exposing him to a wide mix of racing across Europe and also at the Tour of California. Coming from a track background, Scotson's biggest season to date on the road has helped confirm his strengths and which weaknesses need addressing.
"When I consider myself, it is still a one-day race rider at the moment and I can target time trials as well. I had a decent time trial in a WorldTour race stage which was a confidence boost moving forward," he said of his eighth place at the BinckBank Tour. "I have learnt that I need to stick to what I can do and not try to become something that I am not.
"For me, next year will be trying to improve a little bit more in the classics, and the early season Australian races as well. The Nationals and Tour Down Under really suit me. I've also learnt that next year I need to try my hand at a Grand Tour if I get the chance. I have realised that I still have a bit of work to do to become a top rider in terms of development and trying to complete a grand tour is the next big step towards that."
An Australian U23 time trial champion and bronze medallist in the same event at the Worlds last year, Scotson has ridden just three-time trials in 2017. With the Worlds team time trial his major target to close out the year, he has spent more time on the chrono bike in anticipation as he explained.
"The first time trial of the year I didn't put a lot of effort into and the California one was solid as well but at that time I hadn't really fully targeted it. The next month I am really working hard on my time trial trying to make the team time trial world championships so that gives me a good chance to now spend some more time focusing on the time trial," he said.
"I want a good result to finish the year because it will be nice to start an off season with a really solid finish and it will be good for the confidence going into next year."
Since the reintroduction of the Worlds team time trial event in 2012, BMC Racing has won two golds and two silvers. With the likes of Rohan Dennis and Stefan Küng to call on in the event, Scotson is hoping he can close out his debut neo-pro season with his first rainbow jersey on the road in an event BMC will start as outright favourites.
"Since they brought it back, it is something that I really want to try and win one day and it would be so special to do it with another Australian teammate would be really nice," said Scotson who has two world team pursuit titles to his name. "I only have two chances now to do it now. If I can get myself really well prepared and earn my selection, I am in a good team to do it."