Feature – Tour Hero Owain Doull

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Talking to Tour of Britain hero Owain Doull (Team Wiggins) who was third overall and top 10 on every stage bar 1 when he was 11th!

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Feature – Tour Hero Owain Doull

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Owain (left) on the podium for his third place in the Aviva Tour of Britain

Leading the GB team at the Road Worlds where a crash in the finale prevented a challenge for the medals was Owain Doull who was third at the Tour of Britain, a pretty sensational result especially when you add in the number of top 10s he had, seven and the one missing he was 11th!
Stage 1 – 4th
Stage 2 – 6th
Stage 3 – 6th
Stage 4 – 4th
Stage 5 – 11th
Stage 6 – 3rd
Stage 7 – 6th
Stage 8 – 10th

When the going got hard, Doull was there at the front picking up numerous Best Brit awards and in the sprints against the Worlds Best, he was in the mix too. All this adds up to showing that on his day, Owain is among the Worlds best.

Talking at the Aviva Tour of Britain, he said of his ride “This is probably the best I have gone. I did a good ride at the nationals but just missed the front group so was chasing most of the day and ended up seventh. I have been consistent all year but this and the world championship are my two big goals and so have been building up towards this”.

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Best Brit! and how with seven top 10s and the other being 11th!

During the season, Owain has won some big races with his sprint but what made a lot of people sit up and take notice was that he wasn’t just there in the sprints but also when the going got tough like on the climb of Hartside. Was a high GC place a goal at the start of the Tour of Britain I asked?

“I had previously thought about riding for the GC but maybe best case a top 10, so to end up 3rd overall was a big surprise for myself. Going into the race I knew if I managed not to lose any time up until stage 5, I could go full gas up Hartside and see where I stood after the stage”.

“The feeling of being sat behind your mates lining out the bunch in a HC race at 60kph+ on closed roads in the centre of London and then finishing the job off is pretty special and one I won’t forget for a while”.

“Fortunately I managed to limit my loses up there and knew from that point onwards a high GC placing was a strong possibility with the numerous time bonuses on offer in the remaining stages.”

Having ridden so strongly up Hartside and on stage 6 when Team Sky and others split the front group to create a selection at the front, I asked what pleased him more, his general strength to race every day with the best riders in the world resulting in a high GC place or his consistent sprinting on the stages?

“It’s hard to pick between the two” Owain explained. “I knew I was capable physically of making the groups on certain days like Stage 2 into Colne and Stage 6 into Stoke on Trent and potentially getting a result as they were more reduced groups”.

“I didn’t expect to fair so well in the more pure sprint stages like the opening stage with the top guys, Cav, Greipel and Vivanni. I think both go hand in hand ultimately because the fresher and stronger you are at the end of those stages, the more powder you have left for the finals”.

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After a select group was formed at the start of the race, Owain Doull finished off a great day winning the group sprint behind the two leaders, Trentin and Boasson Hagen

Talking about highlights for a rider with seven top 10s out of eight stages, Owain says for him, London, the final hurrah, was the one. “For me, it has to be the final stage in London and specifically the opening few laps and the build up to the first intermediate sprint”.

“Going into the stage, it was our primary goal from the off to secure the bonus seconds I needed to move up onto the podium. The feeling of being sat behind your mates lining out the bunch in a HC race at 60kph+ on closed roads in the centre of London and then finishing the job off is pretty special and one I won’t forget for a while”.

“I had to pinch myself as it was a bit of a shock to find myself in that position after seven days of hard racing. I came in carrying fatigue and I thought I’d be lacking my top end.”

Those teammates in Team Wiggins helping him, of course, included one of Britain’s most loved and celebrated cyclists of all time. Sir Bradley Wiggins. “It’s a bit surreal having someone like Brad work for you” Owain said at the Tour, “having been a hero of mine for so long. It adds a bit of pressure, but it’s good pressure”.

Teamwork in cycling is one aspect that seems to be overlooked especially when one rider is getting the glory however deserved that is. In Owain’s case, very deserved because he repaid his teammate’s hard work with a very special result.

Owain gives us an insight into that work explaining “there is a lot of work which goes un-noticed. I was really fortunate going into the race that from the off, the lads got behind my ambitions and fully believed that I was capable of doing a good performance”.

“From day one, I was always looked after. Whenever I stopped, I always had someone with me, I never had to go back to the car and only ever really hit the wind in the last few kilometres. Obviously everyone always saw the massive amount of work Brad was doing at the backend of the stages but all the other lads contributed just as much which was pretty special as they are all a group of massively talented guys with their own aspirations and ambitions”.

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Team Wiggins get their ‘train’ going early on with Andy Tennant, Jon Dibben and Bradley Wiggins all leading out Owain Doull for a bonus sprint.

Prior to the Tour of Britain, the last time he raced was RideLondon, another event the Tour of Britain organisers Sweetspot are a part of and he wasn’t sure where he was at before stage one at the Tour. “I knew in training I was going pretty well but it’s different racing so I was a bit surprised at the success but it was nice the hard work paid off”.

One of Owain’s career goals is Rio 2016 and the Team Pursuit where competition is super tough to make the cut but the Welshman has risen to the occasion to be in the mix and shown his class on the road and track. Working with Heiko Salzwedel (GB coach), Owain and the riders in the Team Pursuit have been doing a lot of road work with a lot of that at altitude.

Asked does he feel his TP training and international racing has helped him move up a level on the road, Owain replied, “Yes, I think I have stepped up a lot this year on the track and the road.”

“I don’t think it boils down to one specific thing or any certain training. I’m still a young athlete and everyone develops at different rates and this year I have made a big step forward in my progression. I think also, building up experience of what works for you personally as an athlete to perform and get the best out of yourself can take time to perfect”.

“It helps though that Heiko has been really supportive this year and allowed me to focus on the road and my major targets like the Tour of Britain and Under 23 Road worlds.”

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