Owain Doull: Team Sky's Olympic gold medallist eyes 2018 Vuelta a Espana

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales
Owain Doull celebrates winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Owain Doull celebrates winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Olympic gold medallist Owain Doull has targeted the Vuelta a Espana as his main goal for 2018.

Doull is preparing his second full year on the World Tour with Team Sky and will start his season at the Tour Down Under this month.

The 24-year-old hopes to make his Grand Tour debut after the cobbled classics in the spring.

"My big goal is to try and get set up for the Vuelta," Doull told BBC Sport Wales.

"I would like to get a Grand Tour under my belt."

Doull says the Spanish race is the most likely of the three Grand Tours to target after the cobbled classics of March and April.

"The Giro D'Italia is too soon after the classics, while the Tour de France is too big an ask for me at this stage," said Doull.

"Hopefully I will be set up for a good spring with the cobbled classics and play a big role in that because they are ideal races for my skill set.

"I want to continue my progression and get some results for myself also.

"I feel more confident coming into Team Sky. Initially it's almost like coming from a primary school to a high school level, that bit bigger and that big scarier."

Doull's burst appendix

Doull will be part of the seven-strong squad in the Tour Down Under alongside Kristoffer Halvorsen, Chris Lawless, Egan Bernal, Jon Dibben, Salvatore Puccio and Lukasz Wisniowski.

The racing takes place on the roads around Adelaide, starting with the pre-race People's Choice Classic criterium on 14 January before the main event between 16-21 January.

The race will also be fellow Welshman Scott Davies' first race as a professional with his new team Dimension Data.

Owain Doull posted this on social media
Owain Doull posted this from his hospital bed on social media in January 2017

It promises to be a different experience for Doull than last year when the Cardiff cyclist was forced to pull out of the 2017 event because of a burst appendix.

Doull had not long switched to the road following his Olympics track team pursuit success at Rio 2016.

"It feels a different experience coming out here this time," said Doull.

"I managed to work hard after the 2016 Olympics to be in good shape because I wanted to make a good first impression.

"My appendix burst and I spent four days in hospital and another three days in hospital recuperating before flying back.

"That set me back a lot last year. It was only towards the back end with the Tour of Britain and World Championships when I was back to myself.

"I have worked hard over the winter and am looking forward to racing.

"We have a young team here with new signings and big talent and I will play roles in leading them out."

Owain Doull
Owain Doull was given an MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours list after his Olympics gold in Rio

Doull insists it is business as usual for Team Sky following the latest revelations surrounding Tour de France four-times winner Chris Froome, who produced an adverse drugs test at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.

Froome had double the permitted level of a legal asthma drug in his urine.

Cycling's world governing body, the UCI, wants more details from Team Sky, but Froome is not suspended.

"I can't speculate on the Froome stuff because it adds fuel to the fire and we need to let things run their course," said Doull.

"It's business as usual at Team Sky. Everyone was training hard in the December camp and focused on their own goals and racing plans."

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