What a win for Chris Froome in the Tour of Oman last week.
If the world of cycling needed any confirmation that he is the man to beat at this year’s Tour de France, then they got it on Saturday with that superb ride up the final mountain.
Unfortunately I can’t say I was there to support him.
I was in France racing the Tour de Haut Var over the weekend.
For all the amazing support we get at Sky it was like I was out riding on my own again.
We had 16 bikes pinched on the day before the race and had to use alternatives, and then I got a puncture on the second and final stage on Sunday.
It wasn’t the easiest of weekends but I feel pleased with the start I’ve made out in Mallorca and France.
Hunting glory is not for me, it’s all about supporting the lead guy and that’s what I’ve got to keep doing in every race I’m asked to compete in.
Obviously, Dave Brailsford is the figurehead of Team Sky but my point of contact is Rod Ellingworth.
If Dave wants to see you, then usually that means you’ve done something wrong.
Dave was out in Mallorca with us at the training camp at the start of the season and he’s been really enthusiastic and upbeat about the season ahead for everybody.
Fortunately no-one’s been in trouble recently.
If he walks down the corridor you turn the other way because it’s only ever bad news if he wants to collar you.
But he’s a great guy and a top-class coach.
Rod, though, is the man who coaches me and the person I’m in contact with regularly.
I don’t know what the plan is for me yet for the next month or so, other than I will be in Italy from March 26-30 for the Settimana Coppi e Bartali which is a big race.
After that, it’s still undecided what my schedule is going to be.
The Paris-Nice is a big week-long stage race from March 9-16 and like last week’s Tour of Oman, a key indicator going forward for the Tour de France and the other grand tours.
I’d like to be involved in that if I could but competition for places is intense.
This weekend marks the start of the ‘classics’ season in Belgium with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad today followed by the Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne.
While I’m not in the seven or eight-man Sky squads for either race, I’m staying abroad to work on my mountain climbing and I’ll be keeping a keen eye on developments because at some stage this spring I will be involved in the classics.
They’re always fun to be involved in and a good indicator of form.
What I might be doing in the coming weeks, and as a proud Yorkshireman I’m sorry to have to say this, is moving down to the south of France.
There’s already a great group of riders out there, not just with our team, but other world pro teams.
If I do move down for the season then I’ll be staying with my Sky team-mate Ian Boswell, who I rode Haut Var with last weekend.
Pete Kennaugh, who was a revelation at last year’s Tour de France, has just moved down there.
At some stage I may follow suit. This next few weeks and months will be a good test of whether I’m equipped for being down there.
I lived in Italy with my brother Nathan a couple of years ago, I was just a teenager and it was during our time with a team out there.
We both managed to survive on our own out there – God knows how. There wasn’t that many good home cooked meals though, I’ll be honest.
The thing about Nice is that you’re in the heart of it. Team Sky’s support base is close by, the majority of the team is based out there, and for me there are longer climbs in the Alps and the Pyranees to get that key work done that I’ll need if I want to force my way into the Tour de France team, and that’s definitely the ambition.
Some big news recently has been the decision of Nairo Quintana, who was second place at last year’s Tour, deciding not to ride the Tour this year to focus on the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana this year.
Quintana’s such a young guy, he’s got a massive career ahead of him and a number of years to try and win the Tour.
The Giro and the Vuelta will be good for him and he can definitely win either of those. I think it’s an understandable decision by him.
It’s a blow for fans of the Tour de France here in Yorkshire who won’t be able to see Quintana, but there’ll be plenty of big names to follow, hopefully including me.