Matt Nowell is four weeks behind in his pre-season preparation.
That’s the verdict of the 21-year-old, who is currently building up his winter workload after recovering from a knee injury.
Nowell decided to swerve Sunday’s Clayton Spring Classic in Clitheroe as a precaution.
The Northwich talent did not want to risk any more setbacks before the season gets into full swing. He said:
“I’m pretty gutted I didn’t race. But I’d rather go well for the rest of the season than risk it all now.
“The knee feels all right now. I started feeling pain just after Christmas when I had done a bit of a training block.
“It is something to do with an injury I had previously on the opposite knee. I had obviously been compensating.
“I ended up with really tight quads and glutes which had been pulling my knee out of line. I have done some physio and acupuncture.
“I’ve done a bit of everything really. I have just thrown myself into the rehab to do everything possible to get better.
“Now I am just easing back into training with some turbo sessions, which isn’t so bad when it is snowing outside!
“I was in a good place before the knee went. It is only a setback. I’ve missed four weeks or so but I can always race myself fit. There is a lot to look forward to.”
Nowell embarked on his first season in the professional peloton last term after catching Tim Elverson’s eye in the 2016 Tour Series, while riding for Wheelbase Altura.
He made his UCI debut in the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic, spending much of the day in the break, before impressive efforts in the Memorial Philippe Van Coningsloo and Midden Brabant-Poort Omloop.
A puncture in the final 20km of the mixed-terrain Dwars door het Hageland – Aarschot robbed the Sheffield Hallam graduate of a big result and left him hungry for a return.
Back in England, Nowell was ninth on the circuits at Ilkley and Skipton after successfully defending his Capernwray crown.
This winter he has linked up with Grinta Coaching and believes a more professional approach to his training will see him step up on his debut campaign. He added:
“I’m still relatively inexperienced and there is a lot I have to learn. There are lots of different areas where I can improve.
“Working with Grinta has meant my training has been a lot more structured. It seems to be working so far and I’m really enjoying it.
“There are loads of races to look forward to. I’m excited about some of the under-23 races we have lined up in Belgium, going back to Het Hageland and possibly the Ras. We’ll see.”
Nowell could begin his season at the UCI 1.2 Dorpenomloop Rucphen in Holland on Sunday, March 11 but acknowledges he may lack race sharpness.