Video of the crash in the Arenberg Forest that showed Docker heavily bloodied was deemed too distressing to show at a Melbourne luncheon this week where the 30-year-old revealed his intention to race Roubaix in 2017.
“The first thing I really came to terms with when I decided if I wanted to keep riding or not was I think I want to Roubaix again. That was the first race and pretty much the only race that keeps me going every year. If it wasn’t for Roubaix, I guess I’d still be cycling but it would be something else,” Docker told Cycling Central.
“I had a big crash at Roubaix and I took my time coming back from that. It really allowed me to work out what I wanted to do with cycling and if I still wanted to ride. I was at that point where I was a little bit scared from that crash and thinking, do I actually still want to do this? Do I want to put not only myself but my family through that again? Do I love the sport enough to do that?”
Docker (Orica-BikeExchange) can’t remember much of the crash over one of Roubaix’s most insidious pave sectors where he broke his nose, teeth and cheekbone. He could be forgiven for scrapping the race, however, the incident instead allowed for introspection set to put the super domestique on a different trajectory next year.
“It was a pinnacle point in my career,” Docker said. “I’ve got some direction now of what I still want to do in the sport. It’s funny it took a strange event like that to really shake me up. I could have kept coasting along and going from year to year but this is now really a wake-up call of how I want to approach my next few years of cycling.”
Docker said he hadn’t considered his place and future in the sport prior to crash that has provoked a change in mentality he plans to apply at the spring classics, again a major objective, next year.
“I wasn’t even really thinking about it, I think I was just focusing on the next thing,” he said. “You lose track of the whole long-term goal, what you want to do, or what you originally came into the sport for,” he said.
“Originally you come in and, here in Australia, you’re trying to be a winner and get results to become pro,” he continued. “Then I became professional, I lost track of goals, you go where the team wants you to go.
“It came back to the basics of setting some individual goals. I still want to win as a rider and pick out my races I want to win in. I want to step-up as a leader in the team and in the sport, in the peloton as I’m getting a little bit older.”
Time has helped heal the mental scarring from the crash Docker can now speak about, during the first week of his pre-season training in Melbourne, Australia, without a quiver that has previously threatened to affect his voice on the subject.
“I think it will be different when I’m there and getting towards Arenberg. Maybe it will be different, maybe it won’t be, maybe I’ll be involved in the race and I’ll just go on and do it,” he speculated of Roubaix.
“When I’ve been racing now, I haven’t felt fearful or nervous. I’ve just been able to get back into the motion of racing and that’s taken my thought off it.”