George Atkins has admitted he faces a massive couple of months in the saddle.
The 25-year-old, from Kibworth Beauchamp in Leicestershire, has not delivered the results he had hoped for so far this term.
But following a maiden appearance at the An Post Rás, he believes the confidence is beginning to flow back into his cycling.
And he would love to serve a timely reminder of his talents on Friday night, when he rolls of out for the Stockton Festival of Cycling Criterium.
Atkins notched back-to-back wins in the contest, which doubles as round four of British Cycling’s National Circuit Series, in 2013 and 2014.
The former ONE Pro Cycling man is now keen to prove his worth in BIKE Channel Canyon colours. Atkins said:
“I always seem to get ill early in the season and then often come good in the second half. It seems to be the way my body reacts.
“I don’t really like it like that. I had intended to hit the season all-guns blazing and pick up some results early on.
“It’s not a great feeling getting halfway through and thinking am I still going to be riding a bike next year!
“It’s a difficult one but I definitely feel like I have turned a corner and feel like I am going well now. The Rás was key in that.
“I have a bit of confidence about me, which is something I was lacking. A lot of sport is in the head. It’s half the battle, as they say.
“There is still a large part of the season left to go at, which is good. There are the next Prems coming up and I love racing in Stockton. It must be something in the air!”
Atkins, who now lives in Stockbridge in Edinburgh, signed for BIKE Channel Canyon after a troubled campaign at JLT Condor, where illness and fatigue undermined his form.
The 2009 national junior road race champion was 17th on stage three of the Rás in May as he looked to gain race miles after a stuttering start to the campaign.
He admitted his maiden appearance in the prestigious Irish stage race was an eye-opening experience.
But Atkins, who won the National Circuit Series crown in 2013, reckons he has returned to Britain much the better for it. He added:
“It was my first Ras. And was completely different to any racing I had done before. It was weird, the break would never go.
“That’s possibly because you have so many county riders. But also because the teams are so small, no-one really wants to control it.
“It was an interesting race. I would have liked to have gone there with a little more form but it was always the plan to get a good eights days of racing in.
“It was a good experience and nice to get back into the groove of racing again. That was the main thing I took from it.
“There were a few good days and a few not-so-good days. It was nice to feel like I was racing rather than just taking part, though.”
The full squad for Friday night’s Stockton Festival of Cycling Criterium will be announced on the morning of the race.
Atkins will then tackle the Stockton Grand Prix, the second race of four in British Cycling’s Grand Prix Series, on Sunday.