He was a young man tipped for a bright future when he signed for BIKE Channel Canyon last November.
Matt Nowell, who will celebrate his 21st birthday on Sunday, acknowledges the past eight months have proved a steep learning curve.
The Northwich rider has still delivered a string of impressive performances, including 16th in the Chorley Grand Prix – his maiden elite road race.
And he now feels like he belongs in the professional peloton as he targets a season-defining result before the end of the campaign.
Ahead of the Colne Grand Prix – the final round of the National Circuit Series – on Wednesday night, the Weaver Valley talent said:
“It has been hard. It is obviously my first year as a professional, so it has definitely been a step up from what I was riding.
“At the same time, I have not felt out of my depth. I know where I need to get to for next year and have been knocking on the door of some good results.
“I was 16th at Chorley in my first Prem. I felt strong at the Reservoir and could have been there or thereabouts but that was a different race entirely.
“I have been feeling good. It has been a tough step up but it was the right step up. You have to keep challenging yourself.
“I am still looking towards the end of the season and there are plenty of opportunities to go out and get a big result.
“I would like to get a really solid result in a National A event. I would like to crack that top 10 in a Prem before the end of the season.”
Nowell, who successfully defended his Capernwray Road Race crown before his Chorley Grand Prix bow, was the best guest rider in the Tour Series in 2016.
This season’s competition did not go according to plan for the former Wheelbase man, though, with relentless rain putting the skids under his progress.
But he quickly shrugged off that disappointment, with back-to-back wins at regional level, ninth in both the Ilkley Cycle Race and Skipton Grand Prix before 13th in the Beverley Grand Prix last week.
Nowell also bagged a best-yet UCI result of 23rd in the 1.2 Midden Brabant-Poort Omloop in Holland earlier this month. He added:
“It is only my first year at this level. The Tour Series was tough. Somehow I managed to bear the brunt of a lot during that.
“I had to learn how to ride those in the wet and I learnt the hard way. I got nicknamed Skittle during that series, which wasn’t great!
“I definitely feel like I am finding my feet a bit more, though. I did a couple of big UCI races in the first half of the season.
“I did Rutland and then we were off out to Belgium and Holland. I’ve had a tough time here and there but it has all been a great experience.”
Nowell is expected to celebrate his 21st birthday at the Nürburgring in Germany.
BIKE Channel Canyon sports director Tim Elverson has accepted an invite to the UCI 1.1 Rad am Ring, won last season by former Endura rider Paul Voss.