Owain Doull: Welsh cyclist hopes Tour Down Under will help him progress
Welsh cyclist Owain Doull hopes his first major race for Team Sky can help him win selection for the Tour of Flanders in April.
The 23-year-old will ride alongside fellow Welshmen Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe in Australia's Tour Down Under from 14-22 January.
Doull left Team Wiggins to join Team Sky for the 2017 season.
"My big aim for the year is that big week in April in the Tour of Flanders," Doull told BBC Radio Wales.
The Olympic gold medallist says the race, which starts and finishes in Adelaide, will be "a big step up" for him.
He continued: "I've raced on the road to a decent level before, but never anything world tour.
"I'm looking forward to getting my first proper race with Sky under my belt and doing my job and trying to put a good performance in for the team."
Doull's race priorities
Team Sky's leading riders for the southern hemisphere race, including Colombian Sergio Henao and Dutchman Danny van Poppel, will look to thrive in the race as well as Thomas and Doull.
"We'll be going into the race with multiple options with Sergio and G [Thomas] potentially for the overall title and Danny for the flat days, so there won't be any days off," Doull said.
"We're working hard for the whole period, but I think that's one of the aims of doing the race anyway is to get a good workload in before the bigger races later in the year."
'No distraction and no ice'
Doull is aware of the impact the Tour Down Under can have on his career, much like how Thomas and Rowe have benefitted from their own experiences in the competition.
"Speaking to people like Luke and Geraint, they say it's a really good way to start your year," he said.
"You have to come out to Australia quite early, do a couple of weeks of training then obviously straight into the first world tour race of the year.
"It's going to be good to get a good one under my belt quite early. It's a nice way of doing it as well, getting away from the cold and the winter of Cardiff and escaping to the sun and getting a consistent block of work done.
"There's no distractions and no problems like ice on the road."