• Team Sky's Owain Doull getting some Kangaroo love at the Santos Tour Down Under. (Getty)Source: Getty
British Olympian Owain Doull is set to make his WorldTour debut with Team Sky at the Tour Down Under perhaps better equipped than your average neo-pro.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
15 Jan 2017 - 2:21 PM  UPDATED 15 Jan 2017 - 2:23 PM

The 23-year-old is suffering from a stomach complaint and may be scratched from tonight’s People’s Choice Classic prelude criterium as a precaution ahead of the race proper, which commences Tuesday.

Speaking to Cycling Central, Doull said he was keen to kick-off a road career he until now hasn’t solely been able to focus on with the Rio Olympic Games being a primary objective with Team GB.

Doull was part of the quartet that won the gold medal team pursuit final over Australia at the Games. It culminated four years of work for the Welshman, who now is perhaps better equipped than most to deal with pressures the WorldTour presents for neo-pros.

“I don’t think I’ll ever feel nerves similar to what you do for a track race. I think knowing everything is on the line, four years of your life just for four minutes worth, is pretty intense,” he said.

“The build-up to it as well, selection, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster. I don’t think anything on the road will come close to that pressure cooker.”

Doull hasn’t ruled out a title defence at Tokyo 2020 but at least for the next two years will concentrate on his road career and determining areas in which to excel. He has previously competed on the road for An Post-Chain Reaction as well as WIGGINS, the latter which actively fostered his Olympic ambitions.

“I’m looking forward to this year because this is probably the first where I’ve actually fully been on the road. The last four years I’ve been juggling between the track and the road. It’s been nice to be able to take a break, a big off-season, fully focus on the road and have that structure of working towards one thing all the time, rather than spinning plates,” he said.

“I was quite versatile as an amateur and I don’t really know what I want to specialise in. I was good at those one-day races at an under 23 level so it seems like a good starting point. I’m quite open minded, to be honest.

“I’d like to focus on the classics for the first part of the year and make the squad for those races. Then, the back end of the year, shed a bit of weight and see how I go uphill. I’ve asked already if I can do the Vuelta this year. It’s something good to aim toward. Whether I get a ride is a completely different matter but if I could do one (Grand Tour) in my first year it would be beneficial for me.”

Doull took a small time-out to celebrate his success in Rio, recalling hangovers and riding alongside his idol Bradley Wiggins, but returned to the road, competing at the Tour of Britain, Paris-Tours and the Abu Dhabi Tour as a Sky trainee before calling it a season.

“It was surreal,” he said of the Games. “When I first got on the academy, when I was 18, you ride a four-year plan. To win the Olympics you write it down, you want to be ambitious but on one hand, you don’t really believe that it is going to happen. It’s kind of like a dream. To actually do it and achieve it, even now I can’t really put it into words.

“I had about two weeks after the Games kicking back, not doing too much. I think if you can have some downtime anywhere in the world Rio is not a bad place to do it,” he added.

“I’m lucky I’m moving onto the road now. The thought of doing another four years on the track, a whole Olympic cycle, would just be a bit monotonous and I’d struggle with that. It’s nice to be able to step away.”