James Lowsley-Williams has never felt better in the opening pedal strokes of a new campaign.
The combination of a few winter cyclocross skirmishes, some tweaks to his bike set-up and a more focused training regime has put the 26-year-old in rude health.
Throw in confidence gained last term, when notable performances included a breakaway at the Tour de Yorkshire and a third, three fourths and two further top-10s in the Tour Series.
And knit it all together with the famous Canyon Eisberg team spirit and it is no surprise he is aiming to scale new heights. Lowsley-Williams said:
“I feel good. I’m very happy and in a really good space. I feel really positive, I’m chilled and I’m not stressing. Everything is hopefully leading up into a great season.
“I had a good, solid season last year. I was there or thereabouts all the time. It was as good a season as I’ve ever had on the bike.
“I know I had a good summer. I’ve now had a solid winter. I haven’t had a long time off because I went straight into cross, so I’m really excited.
“We have got an incredible team with world champions now. And I have team-mates looking at me as a potential top 10 to winner, which is mad.
“I am getting wiser every year and stronger also. Cycling is one of those sports where you do get stronger over time. I really think there is no stopping us.”
Lowsley-Williams franked those good sensations with a superb 34th at the UCI 1.HC Ronde van Drenthe in Holland on Sunday.
He finished in a decimated main bunch, just 19 seconds down on the victorious Frantisek Sisr, of CCC Sprandi Polowice, who led home 10 escapees.
That was a superb return for the former UK Youth and NFTO rider as he battled crosswinds and cobbles for the best part of 200km. Lowsley-Williams added:
“It was a bit of a shock. I hadn’t raced and then suddenly I was in an HC. But it was good to just get started and I felt strong, I felt positive and came out with a good result.
“It could have been better. I just lost gas at the end. I was sat on the wheel of Blythey (Adam Blythe) and he sort of lost his legs as well.
“The gap opened up and I didn’t have the 1400w sprint at the end of a 200km day on the cobbles to close it!
“You had top boys there who have already done races like the Tour of Oman. The longest I’d done was about three hours on the turbo!
“So I didn’t really have the gas at the finish but that is something I will be working over the next couple of weeks.
“Through the day I didn’t really feel like it was too difficult. Then with 60km to go, there was only about 40 people left in the bunch.
“I love off-road stuff. To be honest, I just like a hard race. If it is hard I’m normally there or thereabouts. I just sit and grimace. It takes a lot for me to give up!
“The cobbles made it hard, so I was quids in. I had a 300 TSS (training stress score) day and then I was back training again on Monday.
“I said to Tim (Elverson), I genuinely feel all right. Last year I was in a hole the day after Drenthe and I finished 60th. So that bodes well.”
Lowsley-Williams is now setting his sights on a return to Holland for the UCI 1.1 Volta Limburg Classic on Saturday, March 31.