You were a bit of a last-minute addition to the team last year. As a neo-pro, it must have been like drinking through a fire hose. What did you learn?
I’d say how to manage myself but my teammates would probably laugh at that because I’m still the worst on the team at being organised. Actually I just learned how to train, how to look after myself, how to be more professional.
Did you have any sense of what you were in for when you got the call to join Team Sky?
In a way, because I’d worked with British Cycling before I thought Sky would be quite similar. To be fair, I’m still learning now. I missed the orientation camp that happened end of last season because I was so late to it.
Did you have any moments this year where you doubted you were up for it?
Quite a few really. In a stage race, which I did most of this year, after a few days you can see how the older guys in the team can handle themselves, they can take so much more. Guys like Bernie Eisel, he is unbelievable at how he prepares, he’s so organised. Then there’s me, I just roll up everything is missing, kit missing. I’d just get more and more tired and as you get more tired you forget more.
I can imagine it could be pretty isolating being the new guy on a team like this. Did any of the guys take you under their wing?
All the older guys did in their own way. A guy like Richie Porte is a ‘tough love’ sort of person. He knows that, with someone like me, the harsher he is, the more his advice goes in.
You came up through British Cycling, right?
I did until I was 18, then I went to Italy and was independent with an Italian team. I spent a half-year there when GB asked me to come back and ride the Tour of Britain.
So, from being a junior, to the pinnacle of the sport at Team Sky, has British Cycling set you up to succeed here?
It definitely did. I was in the Olympic Development Programme [ODP] as a junior and Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth were both involved there. So, how they ran that, and how they run Team Sky is very similar in a lot of ways. I think that’s one reason I found it easier to be part of this team.
What about that half-year in Italy, presumably it was completely different?
Yeah, completely. I was based in Bergamo with Colpack. I went from the ODP to that and it was a massive culture shock. They were so Italian, it was great but it was very different to how Team Sky is run.
How is Team Sky run?
It is very simple. We have our point of contact in the team and we have our coach. Everyone else is so organised that they do a lot for you. When I was in Italy was just on my own.
Sky has a set of rules, but I think Sky is more about the group of people. The team has set up a way in which things are done and as riders we have our own set of rules. I think it runs mainly off trust and a desire for success. I want Chris, Brad Richie to do well. When we go to a race we all have the common good in mind.
When you started with Team Sky last year did you find you went out too hot, trained above yourself?
Definitely. All of the neo-pros were guilty of that at the start of the year.
Who reeled you in?
I did. You don’t want to be the worst rider in the team so straight away you try and keep up with people who are a lot stronger. I remember specifically one day with Eddie (Boasson-Hagen), maybe the third day of the first camp, we had to do a top effort. I started it next to Eddie thinking I’d keep with him, but it absolutely killed me – I was killing myself to do it and he wasn’t even breathing hard. I hurt my knee to the point I had to sit out for a week. I think me and both Americans were all pretty guilty of it. But we’ve all learned from it.
You had some breakthrough moments last year. What is your fondest memory of the season?
Every race had it’s own moment really. Colorado was amazing. The atmosphere of it and the team we had there. The Tour of Britain was incredible. It isn’t the biggest race that I did, but winning it with Brad and racing in the UK was a big moment, I really enjoyed that. Seeing him come back and win was great. It is always a hard race, but it was great.
Colorado was tough and there was a lot of talk about the altitude. How did you find the racing scene in the US?
The fans are like nothing I’ve seen, they were exactly how I had thought they would be. They were more enthusiastic than I even imagined. But that race is something because of that altitude. I’ve never been in anything like that.
Talking of travel, the Japan Cup was your first time to Asia?
Before this team I had never been outside of Europe so to see the world has been massive.
You still like riding your bike?
More than ever.
When you think about July 2014 in Yorkshire, what comes to mind?
It is amazing to see the Tour come this way. The start in Leeds is just a few miles from my house. It’s huge. The impact it has had already is great. I see people riding bikes everywhere already. Even if I’m not on the team I will be there to see it go off.
I suppose you’ve always been famous in your part of the world…
Most famous person on my street.
Do you find that you’re getting recognized more nowadays after this year?
When you’re riding your bike around Yorkshire, the amount of support you get is unbelievable. It’s the same when we’re here on Mallorca.
How did they know you just didn’t buy the kit?
I must look professional, eh?