Max Stedman silenced the friendly banter with general classification glory in the Tour of Quanzhou Bay in December.
Now the 21-year-old, from Crowthorne in Berkshire, believes he can kick on and taste more success in 2018.
The Canyon Eisberg climber endured a false start to his season at the Perfs Pedal in Portsmouth earlier this month when a puncture in the opening kilometres effectively ended his race.
That has done little to dampen his enthusiasm, though, after getting a monkey off his back in his final outing of the previous campaign.
Having never won a road race at senior level, Stedman soared to victory on the queen stage of the three-day UCI 2.2 contest in China.
With the tireless support of team-mates Harry Tanfield, James Lowsley-Williams and Rory Townsend, the University of Exeter student then defended his lead on the final day to take the overall crown.
Stedman revealed the relief he felt at clinching victory and the huge boost in confidence it delivered. He said:
“China was a big relief for me. My friends had a running joke about the fact I had never won a road race. Not a National B or anything!
“So it was a monkey off my back in that sense. It was a massive moment in my career and showed what might be possible in the future.
“I knew I was up there with some good climbers. But I had never been in that situation where, potentially, you could win a race.
“It was a bit surreal. I didn’t really know how it was going to pan out but when it got to the final climb and there were only two of us, I thought yeah I’m going to win this.
“China has definitely made me believe in myself more. It has given me the belief I can crack on and maybe win some more races for the team this year.
“It takes a little time to develop strength as a rider. And specifically to develop the strength to win bike races.
“So it is nice to see that patience paying off. But it also gives me confidence for races like the Tour de Yorkshire, where I can hang on to the very end.
“It is that one or two per cent I am picking up as I go along. And that’s why I’m really excited to get going this year.”
Stedman revealed the faith his team-mates placed in him in the heat of battle was another shot to the arm of his fledgling career.
However, he has warned them they may be waiting a while for a similar favour in return this campaign. He added:
“It was nice the guys had faith in me. It was tough for them. And it is going to be hard for me to repay that sort of favour.
“You’ve got Harry who can just ride on the front all day. Well I’m not going to be much use sticking my nose out in the wind for him!
“Last season I didn’t feel like I got the most out of myself until things really kicked off in October and I began to gain some momentum.
“I haven’t had much time away from training but I don’t feel run down by it at all. I’m definitely ready to go again.
“We’ll soon be in at the deep end. There is a great atmosphere in the team. We have a young squad but it is a very good squad.”
Canyon Eisberg’s UCI battles resume on March 4 with the Grand Prix de la Ville de Lillers in France before a Dutch double-header the following weekend.
The 1.HC Ronde van Drenthe and 1.2 Dorpenomloop Rucphen lie in wait on March 11 as it will be all hands to the pump on a hectic day for the young squad.
Stedman, naturally, has one eye on a return to the Tour de Yorkshire where he showed a glimpse of his potential on last season’s gruelling third stage.
That day he mixed it with some top World Tour climbers on his way to 26th on the stage and 23rd on general classification.