Chris Opie has revealed the personal pride which is driving him on.
After a frustrating campaign in 2017, the Cornish sprinter believes he has a point to prove with Canyon Eisberg this season.
He is not aiming to convince the cycling public, though. Headlines and column inches will not be his currency in 2018.
Instead, he is determined to show himself he has still got what it takes to mix it with – and beat – the best in the business.
Opie admitted to having doubts about his future in the wake of former title-sponsor BIKE Channel UK plunging into administration in September.
But his powers remain undiminished. And his hunger to succeed still burns deep within. The 30-year-old said:
“When you’re faced with the uncertainty which surrounded the team at the end of last season, you start to weigh up your choices and your options.
“But then I thought no. If my best performances had started to dwindle then it might be different but I still feel like I am growing as a rider.
“In November I had my best ever month of training. And January was right up there, with everything going smoothly and no interruptions.
“So I’m not done with it at all. It is more to prove a point to myself. I think I am too old to prove a point to anyone else now.
“What I mean by that is I feel quite comfortable and confident in my role in life. But I would like to prove to myself I can still do it.
“I’d also just like to enjoy riding my bike. That is one thing I did get back last year, despite it being difficult.
“Being surrounded by Tim, the riders and the staff, there is a really different mentality to other teams I have been involved in.
“And it does make you enjoy it more. You feel a little more free to enjoy the sport and the racing.”
Opie began last season in fine form. His seventh place in the UCI 1.1 Ronde van Drenthe has earned the squad a return invitation this term, despite the race’s elevation to HC status.
He finished third behind World Tour stars Dylan Groenewegen and Caleb Ewan on the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire and also won the first round of the Tour Series.
But just as he felt like he was building up a head of steam, his season foundered. And then a crash at the Tour of Britain effectively finished it off. Opie added:
“When you look at Drenthe, Yorkshire and the start of the Tour Series, things were going really well.
“It generally takes me a little while to get going anyway. But before I had even got going, I felt I was battling against this imaginary force.
“I just couldn’t get on top of it. I don’t know what it was. There was a tiny, tiny crash in the Tour Series. That jarred me a little bit and maybe I should have had more rest after it.
“Then by the end of the season I felt like I was finding my feet again. I had trained quite hard after the Tour Series only for it to unravel once more with a crash at the Tour of Britain.
“It wasn’t ideal. I do look back on it as a season to forget really. There was not a lot to be learned.
“I have got some great memories because, fortunately, I was with a great group of guys in the team.
“I really enjoyed riding with Rob (Partridge) again before he retired. That was something I did value and appreciate.
“But overall I don’t look back on last year too fondly, certainly not after May.
“I have felt good and felt strong this winter, though. And I’m really looking forward to racing my bike again.”
Opie enjoyed an early leg-stretcher at the Perfs Pedal in Portsmouth earlier this month. On Sunday his season will begin in earnest, though, with the UCI 1.2 Grand Prix de la Ville de Lillers in France.