Orange’s Tim Guy may not have been amongst those riders to complete the final stage of the Tour of Hainan on Sunday, but he still had plenty to be proud of.
His performance for Attaque Team Gusto - which ended on the penultimate stage due to a puncture when no support vehicles were available - showed just how far he has come in his chosen sport.
The last time he contested the Chinese tour was in 2008 when he was a 19-year-old. It was an experience which saw him step away from cycling.
“That year, 2008, anxiety started to take over my world. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know I had a mental health issue – I guess I didn’t want to believe it,” Guy revealed in a video he posted on Facebook.
“I knew something was wrong with me, I just didn’t know what. I just thought I wasn’t coping well. I thought maybe cycling – I wasn’t made for it, it just was something I couldn’t do. It was all I ever wanted to do, but now I was so consumed in this fear that I didn’t know what I wanted with anything in life.
“I didn’t tell anyone in my team, I didn’t tell anyone, I just decided to solider on. So I got through the 2008 Tour of Hainan and not long after left cycling.
“Every year in November when the Tour of Hainan started, I’d just get super stressed … I was so thankful I wasn’t there having to drag myself through those nine days again.”
It was certainly a tough time, but after six years away from the sport, Guy turned to Bathurst’s Mark Windsor – his former coach – for help.
They worked together and Guy returned to the sport – but the Tour of Hainan still held demons for him.
Guy faced those issues when he was a late inclusion in the Attaque Team Gusto squad for the 12th edition of the Chinese event, his presence designed to boost the chances of Ben Hill in the battle for king of the mountain honours.
It was not an easy task physically in humid conditions, let alone having to deal with the mental toll but Guy did it.
His teammate was in equal first in the king of the mountain standings after six of the nine stages – at one stage being the virtual leader on the road - and climbed as high as fourth in the general classification.
Unfortunately Hill crashed out on the penultimate stage, while Guy also had a DNF following a puncture at the 120km mark. But he could still be proud of his effort.
“To have ridden up to stage eight in the Tour of Hainan, it's not a fairytale … what it is, is it’s nice to know you can learn to manage better,” Guy said.
“It’s not like I’ve come here and enjoyed every second … but the point was not coming here and finishing it, the point was about managing anxiety.”