Leaving Team Sky behind to start Olympic training
Being a part of Bradley Wiggins's Paris-Nice win last week was amazing and as much a victory for me as for him.
Paris-Nice is a massive race and it has history. To go there as part of a British team, riding for Brad all week, and for him to finish it off in the time trial is a great feeling.
For the first time, I took on the role of road captain, calling any shots if we needed to ride or if something went wrong. My job meant being near Brad the whole week, protecting him, sheltering him from the wind and keeping him near the front, out of the way of any crashes.
There were a few days when the wind and crashes played quite a crucial part - fortunately we were at the front and pretty vigilant the whole time. Once we got into the high mountains, that was my job done and the climbers in the team looked after him towards the end. I enjoyed having that extra responsibility and it couldn't have gone better.
But I left before Sunday's time trial so I could recover in time to start training on the track for London 2012 this week and it felt strange leaving everyone behind.
I was road captain for Paris-Nice, protecting Bradley Wiggins, who went on to win. Photo: Getty Images
I'd like to have stayed on and been a part of it, especially with Brad winning. It's never nice leaving before the end of a race anyway.
But in a home Olympic year I have to look at the bigger picture: the coaches and staff told me that's what they wanted me to do and that coming back would be best for me on the track. The call was made and it's the right thing to do. If I'd raced on Sunday it would have prolonged my recovery from Paris-Nice.
That big picture is sometimes hard to keep in mind. Being a part of the Paris-Nice win was a taste of things to come for Team Sky, I'm sure, and I feel the same about not riding the Tour de France this summer. Riding Paris-Nice made me realise how much I actually miss, and enjoy, riding the road and the day-in, day-out battles that come with it.
It can be hard to see that leaving it behind is the right thing to do, but when I talk to the coaches I know they're correct. There will be more Tours, and I'm sure Brad will be battling for the win for years to come. It's still disappointing, and I wish I was riding, but - as I've been saying for four years now - the Games are a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me. If only they were at a different time of year.
Brad still has as good a chance of winning the Tour without me there. The team has moved on so much since we started: the squad has been strengthened massively since 2010, there are plenty of good riders around now, and it'll be a fight to get into the line-up for the Tour. There will be great support around both Brad and Mark Cavendish.
Brad has his quiet days when he keeps himself to himself and doesn't say a lot, but mostly he has his usual days as one of the lads, joking around and doing his impressions of people. You wouldn't think he's this big superstar. Ever since he got that fourth place in the Tour and came to Sky, he's grown in confidence and grown into his new role. You can see from Paris-Nice that his belief in himself is growing.
Everyone at Team Sky is similarly confident and relaxed. It's taken a year or so for everything to gel, to get to know how everyone rides on the bike, but now people know what they are doing and the new guys coming into the team have slotted straight in.
Moving from there to the velodrome will be massively different for me. The road is more freestyle, it relies a lot more on feel and road racing has plenty of variables.The track is scrutinised 100%, every effort, every lap. You have your graph and if you've slowed up by 0.1 seconds, you can see it. It's a lot more regimented and controlled.
I still enjoy it - I wouldn't be trying to win the gold medal in London if I didn't - but they are very different disciplines now, especially with the track being so fast. You need to respect the event and give it a lot of time, which is what I'm trying to do.
At last month's World Cup, in London's Olympic Velodrome, we lost the team pursuit final to Australia and that wasn't nice. There were quite a few minor mistakes in there, but not enough that we would have won, even if the margin could have been a lot smaller.
We have taken a lot from that. Since November we have moved on with what is really a new squad. I've been away for so long, three years or more since Beijing, that it's taken me a while to get back up to speed. I feel like I'm getting there now.
Losing at home gives us motivation to push forward and turn it around for the Games. People talk about the battle between us and Australia in terms of who's chasing and who's being chased, but I never see it like that. Whether you're chasing the Aussies or they're chasing you, does it make much difference? You get on with it, you race as hard as you can.
What does make a difference is Jack Bobridge. He was the strongest Australian rider by far and he is a massive talent. He was going well in London and if we overtake the Aussies come August, the track time we get between now and then will be key to that.
I haven't had a lot, maybe two-and-a-half weeks before London plus a few weeks in November, and that's why I'm back on the track now. There is a lot to come from me there and I still believe we have a great chance of doing something.
The World Championships are in Melbourne in a few weeks' time and we definitely want to go faster there than we did in London. But how much the Aussies will improve in front of their home crowd, I don't know. We have to focus on ourselves and work as hard as we can, because we can't affect anything they do - unless we go up and punch them in the face.
(Which we're not going to do.)