Michael Creed is hoping that an early start to his winter training will re-ignite his career after two disappointing seasons with Rock Racing and Team Type 1. Creed, 29, signed for US-based Continental team Kelly Benefit Strategies in September of this year and has been training in Lucca, Italy, in a bid to rediscover his racing appetite.
"I missed out so on much last year so I've had to start training a lot sooner than I normally would have. Typically I would have started around November 25 but I've been trying to ride regularly since mid-October. My last race was in July, so it's been a long time since I've really tested myself," he told Cyclingnews.
"I'm ahead of where I am normally in the winter but I really don't know what that means in terms of speed and power, I could still be really far behind in terms of being competitive."
While training in Europe, Creed has clocked up over 3,000 kilometres, riding with the likes of former teammate Mario Cipollini and Thomas Dekker.
"Cipo can go pretty well up the climbs but it's not that it was his forte, and it's not now even after retirement, so I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock into putting time into him on a climb," Creed joked.
However, the serious work could start early in 2011 with Kelly Benefit Strategies planning to kick their season off in either Asia or South America.
"We've not got our race program set in stone but it looks like things will start early in the year. My goal is just to race as much as I can and if I had my way I'd get in 90 days of racing next year. I just want to race.
"With the last two years being completely messed up as far as racing goes I've been in this mental funk about it and a lot of opportunities have passed me by. When you get 25 days of racing in a year it's hard to call yourself a professional and you almost feel embarrassed to say it. I've not felt like a pro in the last couple of years."
Two races that Creed and his teammates will be hoping for invites from are the Amgen Tour of California and the newly created Quiznos Pro Challenge in Colorado. As a US domestic professional team, Kelly Benefit Strategies knows that invites, certainly for the Amgen Tour of California, will be hard to receive. However, Creed is confident that while the squad may lack high calibre stars and world status, they have the firepower to compete with some of the best.
"I'm sure the biggest races they're looking to get into are the Amgen Tour of California and the Quiznos Pro Challenge. The Colorado race would be huge just because the prologue is in my home town," Creed said.
"Cali will be hard to get into but if you look at the roster of our team you can see how there's a bunch of riders that are waiting to break through and who for reasons of just a little bad luck here or there are still really good riders. It's an incredibly strong team."
The Amgen Tour of California looks set to invite American teams HTC, Garmin, BMC and RadioShack but according to Creed the organisers could look a little closer to home in order to find a more American team.
"I think it would be a shame to not have a domestic based team at the Amgen Tour of California. It's great that the race is getting bigger and they say that BMC and High Road are American teams but that's kind of silly. Maybe because at the very top [High Road's] Bob [Stapleton] and [BMC's Jim] Ochowicz are American but if we're honest they're not American teams, they're more multi-national teams. There's nothing wrong with that."