After a 'tough' 2015 season with the BMC Development team, Jesse Kerrison looked to have a found a new home with the French-Welsh Dynamo Cycling team. That fresh start quickly became an illusion with the team folding due to financial issues, leaving Kerrison stranded without a team for 2016.
In stepped Australian Continental team State of Matter/Maap, who had already finalised its roster, and offered the 21-year-old a lifeline. On Wednesday night, he repaid the faith by winning the U23 Australian national criterium 12-months on from claiming the bronze medal.
"One month ago there was not a lot of thinking going on about riding," Kerrison said after winning his first green and gold jersey.
"I was thinking about going on a holiday and seeing what happened. Leigh [Parsons] and Damo [Harris] messaged me and talked me, gave me some motivation and really picked me back up. They said, 'look, we have a really good team, we can have a good year'. Their ideas are all coming together."
Kerrison joined the Australian Budget Forklifts team in 2013 as a promising sprinter with a handful of top-five results in the National Road Series (NRS) to earn selection for the 2.1 Tour of Taihu Lake. He delivered with a stage win and the best young rider classification. In 2014 Kerrison and Brenton Jones (Drapac) traded stage wins in the NRS as the two dominant sprinters. Kerrison then headed back to the Tour of Taihu Lake, winning the opening stage to wear the leader’s jersey.
In 2015 Kerrison joined the BMC Development team with a full season of European racing on the agenda to continue his progression in the sport but it wasn’t quite what he envisaged.
"Last year was a bit rough due to a multitude of reasons but I guess you get that first year in Europe. It’s all about moving forward so I am excited," he said.
With his Dynamo deal falling through, Kerrison also found himself reconsidering his season goals and racing programme which left him "a bit underdone coming in because with the Dynamo team they wanted me going well a bit later in the year so with all the team mixing and matching I hadn't really targeted nationals."
Last year State of Matter/Maap where the second team on the NRS standings behind Avanti and are striving for the number one position in 2016. Kerrison explained that helping the team achieve that goal will be one his targets this season. Along with getting back in the winners books on a regular basis.
"The team has a very high onus on the NRS this year so we are definitely going to target that and a few UCI races at the start of the year," he said. "Then we have a few Asian races and basically I just want to use this year to get myself back to my winning ways and hopefully get the team to win the NRS. We have some big things coming."
First though, Kerrison will look to repay his teammates in Saturday's U23 men’s road race to secure a second gold medal for State of Matter/Maap in a matter of days. With a flat Worlds course in 2016 that suits the fast finishing characteristics of Kerrison, a solid season in the NRS and Asia could see him called up to the U23 squad, washing away the disappointment of Dynamo and 2015.
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