“To be honest, I just switched off from cycling" - Oscar Onley opens up on mental struggles after three collarbone breaks in 8 months

Seen as one of the big prospects of the Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL squad, 21-year-old Brit Oscar Onley has seen his development and progression stunted by a string of bad luck over the last year, including three collarbone breaks in the last eight months.

Whilst the physical pain was obviously a struggle after breaking the same bone three times in quick succession, speaking to Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL's official website, Onley was open and honest about the mental struggles that also entailed.

“I was confident going into Tour Down Under. We had put the training kilometres in, and I had worked harder earlier than ever before in the winter to be ready for the race. To get that stage win and fourth on GC was a nice week. At that point I had then hoped to continue that into Cadel’s Race and back into Europe for a few more races," Onley recalls of his first collarbone break of the season, his second in the eight month spell. “Mentally it is hard to crash when you are good shape, so it was an interesting start to the year. I had to kind of reset and start the season again almost after that. I was of course disappointed but at the same time I tried to take it as a blessing and enjoy the time at home, because I hadn’t been there much in the time before that. The win kind of took the pressure off a little bit mentally, and I knew that I had the time needed to get back for Itzulia Basque Country.”

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Onley took his first professional win on stage 5 of the 2024 Tour Down Under

Having worked so hard to get himself back fit and firing, Onley's second collarbone break of the season, third in total, was incredibly hard to deal with. “The break in April was a lot more difficult for me mentally,” explains the Brit. “I had big goals for the upcoming races with the team which made it harder. Seeing all your teammates, friends and peers racing and getting good results at that time while you’re sat on the sofa and can’t really do anything; that was a pretty tough period."

In fact, the 21-year-old rather fell out of love with the sport for a short while. “To be honest, I just switched off from cycling for a bit at that time. I tried to keep away from my phone and do some other things. I bought some Lego and was trying to keep my mind busy," he recalls. "I think if you sit on the sofa all day and just think of what you should be doing, or what others are doing, then it can become overwhelming almost. So, I was just trying to keep myself busy and switch off from cycling for a little bit.”

With his latest return confirmed for the 2024 Tour de Suisse however, Onley is now raring to go once again. “On paper I think the route really suits my characteristics. I want to make the most of this opportunity and show the legs and training that we have been working on for the past few months. I want to come out of the race with the best results we can," he concludes. "You must learn to think positively, even when everything hasn’t been positive. That’s what I’ll take with me from all of this.”

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