George Atkins is using the pain of 2016 as fuel for his future.
The 25-year-old endured a frustrating campaign with JLT Condor last term as a mixture or illness and fatigue undermined his form.
He climbed off the bike at the beginning of September and reluctantly took some time out, moving back north of the border to Edinburgh in the process.
Atkins reckons the break has done him a power of good as he prepares to make his BIKE Channel Canyon debut at the Eddie Soens Memorial in Aintree on Saturday (9.30am). He said:
“I had a bit of a longer break than I wanted but at the same time I feel like I needed it.
“When I finished last season I was completely empty. It was the first time I have ever felt like I needed a long break.
“The previous two years I had been out in New Zealand and Australia during the winter and maybe I had just emptied the tank.
“I didn’t feel like I had anything in the legs last season. It wasn’t through a lack of trying but I got to the end of the year and thought I need some time off.
“I’m the kind who likes to ride all year round. I don’t like taking a break but for the first time ever I felt like my body needed it.
“The first day I got back on the bike I felt more like myself. I felt like the break had done exactly what I had wanted it to.
“I think the previous two winters had caught up with me. It was a bit of a mixture of getting ill at the wrong time and a deep fatigue.
“It wasn’t the best time having a season like that but it does happen and it has just made me more motivated for the future and to push on from here.”
Atkins, who hails from Kibworth Beauchamp in Leicestershire, admitted his move to Scotland has helped freshen up his training.
He has been hitting the gym on a regular basis, too, and is hopeful he can rediscover his best form in the colours of BIKE Channel Canyon.
The 2009 national junior road race champion added:
“From October to January I was in the gym three times a week. That was another first for me. I had never really done much of that before.
“I wanted to give it a go, see what it was all about and if I could make some gains there then it is worth doing.
“I have felt quite a bit of improvement in my posture, which I had a few problems with last season, and just my general well being.
“It was a great way to break the winter up. I’ve had a pretty relaxed winter in my own little bubble but you never really know how good it has been until you start racing.
“I feel I am in good shape and going well but you will never know until that flag drops and you actually start racing.”
Atkins will line up alongside Jack Pullar, Matt Nowell, Sam Lowe, Harry Tanfield and Jake Womersley for BIKE Channel Canyon at Eddie Soens on Saturday.