Mike Creed is ready to launch into the 2010 season after a difficult 2009. Creed started 2009 with Rock Racing but was let go before signing for Team Type 1 and racing out the remainder of the season with the US-based team. He will stay with the team for 2010.
Now, with a winter of solid training in his legs, a move from Colorado to Georgia, a new Colnago team bike, and a twenty-ninth birthday to celebrate today, he's ready to forget a turbulent 2009 and enter a new phase in his career.
"There were times of stress last year, and I was wondering when I'd get one paycheck. All these difference scenarios were going through my head because of the situation I was in," Creed told Cyclingnews.
I've lost the ambition to say I'm going for this or that. I'm not at the point where I trust myself physically to do that
"Now my motivation is right up there again. Everything is a little clearer and it's back to being all up to me. There aren't a lot of excuses I could bring out now."
In the coming days, Creed will travel from his new home in Georgia to the lower part of America in search of warmer climates, before docking with his teammates at their first training camp in February. But with this being his sixth professional team in a career spanning over a decade, does the former US Postal rider see himself as a veteran within the sport?
"It's hard to summarise. On the surface I think, wow I'm 29 today. I know that's not young but at the same time I don't hate racing and I don't want to give it up at all. I still consider myself a young rider even though I'm obviously not."
"We did a stage race last year and the race announcer was doing call-ups for the start. He called me up and said I was a savvy veteran. I was like 'woah really?' Couldn't he just kept it at savvy? That would have been perfect. But come on, veteran? He had it all wrong though. He said I'd done the Giro, too, which I haven't and he's introduced me maybe 20 times at races and said I've done the Giro each time. I've not corrected him though. I really like the thought that I've done it. I don't think it's a lie if I don't correct it."
Despite the jovial side that Creed often demonstrates, there is also a serious side, one that's perhaps forgotten by those that see him as a joker in the pack. Now with a team expecting him 'step his game up' he's aware that there's pressure to achieve results. However if there's one thing this savvy veteran knows it's keep away from setting strict goals.
"Due to different illnesses and injuries I've had I have a hard time trusting myself. I've lost the ambition to say I'm going for this or that. I'm not at the point where I trust myself physically to do that."
However with the prospect of a place at the Tour of California - a race Creed has competed in twice - he knows that his sponsors will be looking to him for a good performance in the biggest US race on the calendar.
"I would love to say I'm going to California and that I'm going strong there. I've talked to the team and that's what they want me to do but if you look at it realistically, let's say I go and I have top form and I have a great ride; I could be 11th in the time trial if you have Lance (Armstrong), Levi (Leipheimer), (Michael) Rogers, and a couple of Saxo Bank guys all there - I could be the top North American based racer but only get 11th.
"So while on paper it doesn't look like a great result it would be a great ride. Is the team willing to look at it like that? Can they sell that to the sponsors? As a bike rider, can I go to teams and say I went all in for this one race, came 11th, now how much are you going to pay me? It's a tricky thing the Tour of California."
If there's one thing for certain, Creed will be going all out to perform in 2010 in a bid to put the last 12 months firmly to bed. "It's better to hit the season as fast as you can, rest as much as you can and ride as fast as you can."