On the podium, overlooking Yorkshire, resplendent in red. Third on the opening stage at the Tour de Yorkshire and wearing the king of the mountains jersey reinstated Mike Cuming’s place at the forefront of British road racing.
But his outstanding performance of the season was far from a return to his roots as a climber.
We talk to Mike at the end of his first training camp with Madison Genesis and cover his development as a rider, from under-23 British champion in 2012 - touted as a climber, to his approach today – including his mindset to an often volatile UK scene.
How has your second summer been?
Pretty easy for me eh! I went over to Australia in November for two and a half months , then came back to the UK in January and now I’ve been in Calpe for a week.
What difference has it made being in Australia?
I’ve felt more settled this winter and of course it has been a lot easier to crack on.
Where Kess (my wife) is from I have got a few good mates. The four of us always go out from Bendigo and smash ourselves. There are lots of bunch rides and that makes it easy to go out and get your head down and do some long ks.
I skip some of the efforts the other guys are doing – they were preparing for the Tour Down Under and the Australian road championships.
You joined Madison Genesis last year as part of your return to racing – are you feeling stronger in your second winter back to full time racing?
Yes, I feel like I’m going better than last year and that I’m a bit fitter.
Our first training camp has been hard, everyone is going well. I’m not superhuman and riding away from everyone, but I feel alright, not too bad.
How was the camp for you?
It’s been good. I’ve done the workload Roger has asked of us – he’s been working us hard.
You haven’t worked with Roger before – how has that been?
You think, he’s been really good pro for so many years, so you try and listen to what he has to say and take stuff on board. Even though I’m getting on now you can learn.
I don’t feel really old but 28 isn’t young, especially when I’m rooming with Joe Laverick and he’s 10 years younger.
We were talking about when I first did the Tour de Normandie, which was eight years ago. He was only ten.
What has the first training camp been like?
Everyone is pretty strong. Young Joe has been the standout rider on the camp so far, he looks small, like he could be blown over in a gust of wind, but he's got a bit of power.
We've had a few mock races, where we pick a place or Rog goes 15-20km up the road in the team car, we go into two teams and race which is fun. It's better than saying we will ride separately up a climb and do our efforts.
How would you review last year?
It went alright, every race I did I did the best I could and did my job well, I was pleased. It was good seeing Connor win the nationals, it’s something you can look back on and think it was cool.
It was a bit of a strange one though, the six of us who had been pulled from the race all sat on the bus, watching last five kilometres, all crowded round a phone, screaming.
Then there was Yorkshire. I was just as happy with third on the stage opening stage as I was with the red jersey. Especially with all the top teams there, it’s not often you go for the stage win.
Had you told me at the start of year I would be on the podium for a few days at the Tour de Yorkshire I’d have been pretty happy. To go into one of those races and to be in the bike race, it feels like you belong in that kind of racing.
2018 was your first year back as a full-time pro in the UK after a bit of time away. How much was it on your mind to retain your place on the team for a second year?
Of course my aim was to justify my place for 2019 and that is always in the back of your mind, to keep the ball rolling.
Then when I heard who was joining the team at the end of last year, the strong names, you wonder if they need you.
Does that add pressure at races?
Like I say, it’s always in the back of your mind. But I think the less you think about it the better, because it puts pressure on your riding, so I try not to think about it that much.
What are you aiming for in 2019?
If we’re invited, I’d like to do the Tour de Normandie - as everyone would - and the Tour of Britain and Yorkshire.
If you’re riding a World Tour schedule you can pinpoint races through the season but for us, you don’t know what you’re going to do.
It would be nice if it was planned out for you, but unfortunately life isn’t like that and you might have to race in two days’ time because one of your teammates is ill, or had a crash.
You turn up to every race like you want to win it or you’re not in the race right away.
I make the best of it all the time by taking a positive approach and it always turns out alright.
How do you prepare around that? What has your training been like this winter?
If you’re asking if I have a big plan for training? Not really. I do a lot of base in winter. This winter I did the Bay Crits which was a bit hard.
I just ride really easy then ramp it up around February time with some zone three and zone four and then go from there.
But mainly I always make sure I have a good winter because it sets you up. Only then can you do a bit more before the races start and get into the flow of racing.
If we were doing the Tour de France maybe it would help to have a lot more structure, but we do races where it’s not so selective.
You have got to be fit and good but in the races we do the fittest don’t always win. You have got to race smart in the races that we do and you can still get good results and not be fittest man in the race. That’s the beauty of our sport.
What are the skills you rely on in the bunch?
You’ve got to be able to sniff out a break or two, or learn how to save energy. You can do a lot of damage if you have more energy than the guy next to you.
You were under-23 national champion back in 2012 – things have changed a bit since then?
When I was young I think I had myself down as a climber. The year I won the nationals was followed by winning the 2013 Tour de Korea.
It had a mountaintop finish and a hilly race and I thought maybe it’s a good sign I could go on and be a good climber.
But it turns out there are others out there who can go quicker than me.
I’m a bit heaver now, a bit more robust, more of an all-rounder. I like to think if you put me on a hard course I’ll be there at the finish, either to race or to help win the race.
When did you make that change from being a climber?
All the teams I’ve been in, they have never done races that come down to climbing, maybe once or twice a year really.
I also think if you’re natural climber at the highest level, you’d know about it. I was teammates with Hugh Carthy and he was a natural. He didn’t have to change or diet or whatever, that’s what he was given and that’s the level he’s at.