Morale on a high after the three stages in Ireland, Philip Deignan has said that he received a psychological boost from racing on home shores and believes he can go on to have a strong Giro d’Italia.
“I think I am in a good place right now. I came into the race quite fresh, a little bit under-raced, which I think is a good thing in this Grand Tour as the second half is so hard,” he told CyclingTips in a video interview conducted in Dublin.
“To be honest, I was panicking a little bit with about four or five weeks until the Giro as I didn’t want to just start and be one of the numbers. I didn’t want to just start for the sake of it, I wanted to start in good shape.
“In the last four or five weeks I have really improved, progressed a lot. I have noticed it out training and in Trentino the week before the Giro started. So the form is going in the right direction.”
Deignan’s physical condition is picking up relative to before the race started, and so too his mental state. “Emotionally it was very special,” he confirmed. “It definitely lived up to the expectation that I had coming into the race. I knew the atmosphere was going to be amazing and the crowds…I had a fair idea from the whole build-up in the months leading up to the race.
“It has been really special seeing so many friends and family alongside the road and at the starts and finishes. It has been really special and it feels quite sad to be leading now to be going back to Italy, going back to normality, I suppose.”
Deignan finished ninth overall in the 2009 Vuelta a Espana and also won a stage. He is part of a Sky team which lacks a clear leader and which has pledged to take a more aggressive, attacking approach to the race than might otherwise be the case.
The leadership void means that he should have his chance in the mountains, but he said that longer term he is content with his role as a helper on the team.
“I came to this team for a specific role and I see myself just focussing on that, for certainly the next two years that I am going to be here, just to be a support rider in the mountains,” he said.
“As I said before, I would get more pleasure and satisfaction out of helping one of the guys win a race than me trying to scramble inside the top ten or fifteen. At my stage in my career and at my age, it just wouldn’t give me any satisfaction.”
Deignan’s Vuelta a Espana performance plus his performances last year with UnitedHealthcare show that he has a big engine, but he said that he has accepted that his career is best served in his current role.
“If you are going to be a leader you have to be able to produce results consistently,” he said. “For me, obviously I have had good rides in the past but it hasn’t been consistent enough, number one. You have to be able to say I can podium or I can win today.
“There is no point in saying I can do top ten, because at the end of the day it is not good enough for a team. You need to be able to podium or win. So I would rather try to help somebody win.”
That said, he makes clear that he will seize whatever chances are available to him in races. “A bike race is three weeks long so there is always opportunities for everybody,” he stated. “I wouldn’t write personal ambition off altogether.”