Over the past two weeks, Martin Kohler has found himself in unfamiliar territory. Since announcing his move to Drapac after seven years with BMC, the 29-year-old has been adjusting to his new surroundings and enjoying getting to know his teammates for 2015.
"It's good and I am pretty excited," Kohler told Cyclingnews about his time with his new team. "It's well organised and everybody has been really welcoming so I feel happy and comfortable already. I am excited to start the season."
Having only ever ridden for one team since turning professional, Kohler added he is looking forward to the challenges of adjusting to a wholly different set up.
"It's a totally new experience because since I turned pro, I only rode for BMC. I didn't really know any of my new teammates [when I joined Drapac] so it's a new step in my career but I think sometimes you need a change to move forward.
Kohler will make his debut for Drapac at the Tour Down Under in January with his appearance at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on February 1, also confirmed. While the team is likely to receive several wildcard entries to Asian races, Kohler's season will revolve around the major US stage races as he explained.
"I am targeting races in the USA such as Tour of California, Tour of Utah and Colorado for stage wins," he said.
Before signing for Drapac, Kohler explained that he would look for a team which would give him more opportunities for personal success having spent the majority of his career with BMC as a domestique.
"Of course if I can win races my biggest goal is to get back winning like I was at U23 but also seeing the team growing and winning and progressing and getting bigger for 2016 and 2017," he said of his season aims.
During his BMC tenure, Kohler found himself working for the teams big recruits which curtailed his personal ambitions. Swiss national titles in the road race (2012) and time trial (2011), two days as the leader of the Tour Down Under along with the sprint classification at the 2014 Tour de Romandie suggests Kohler is capable of posting results when given the opportunity, which he looks to prove in 2015.
"For sure at BMC I had hardly any freedom at all with world champions like Phillippe Gilbert and Cadel Evans on the team," he said. "Drapac is a bit smaller than BMC, so I think I'll get more chances to ride for myself but there are also good riders on the team so I'll help them to win as well. In general, I hope to have more freedom and go for my own chances than I had in the last seven years."
Kohler's last race with the team was the Tour of Beijing where he was again assigned a domestique role. While he didn't get to use the race as an opportunity to showcase his talents as planned, Kohler did help Gilbert to the overall win, finishing his BMC career on a high.
"Of course it was nice on one hand, but on the other hand I knew I was out of contract and I wanted to show myself but I didn't get the chance because Phil was leading the tour and I had to work again," Kohler reflected on his final outing with BMC. "It was nice to finish with the win and for sure it's better than Phil getting second or third.
Having signed a one-year deal with Drapac, returning to the WorldTour in 2016 remains an option, but Kohler isn't thinking too far ahead just yet.
"It's hard to say after only one or two weeks so it depends on how the season goes," he said of his plans for 2016. "On one hand I am looking to go back to the WorldTour but we will see how the year goes but I really like the team and I don't have a reason to leave."
Kohler is one of a select few cyclists in the peloton with a tattoo with a kangaroo inside a boomerang inked on his inner right bicep. The tattoo has both personal and sporting meaning for Kohler who has been fascinated with Australian since he visited the country as a child.
"I got it ten or eleven years ago," he said of the tattoo. "I spent three months travelling Australia when I was six-years-old with my parents and it was for me a completely new world. Therefore it's always a special place to me, the animals are different, the landscape is different. Everything is different to Switzerland so that is why I got the tattoo.
"It also relates to cycling. The boomerang always comes back which means, when I crash or get sick or have bad days, I always come back better. The kangaroo inside means I don't go backward, I always look forward."