With his IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness contract confirmed for 2017, Jesse Kerrison is aiming to showcase his sprint talent with Australia's premier domestic team and make the jump up to the WorldTour. 2016 was almost a write off for the 22-year-old as the Dynamo team he signed for folded before it ever truly existed.
Kerrison was a late addition to the State of Matter/MAAP team, starting the season brightly with the U23 national criterium title, and is now focused on having his best season yet with the newly merged team in 2017.
With a new training regime set out by coach Kate Perry of FTP Training starting to show results ahead of the Australian summer of cycling, Kerrison is confident he can hit the ground running with IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness and lay the groundwork for a successful year.
"Their goals and my goals are aligned. Obviously, with their track record they want to develop riders and send them overseas and ultimately that is where I still want to go. ACJ [Andrew Christie-Johnston] and the team have such a good track record with that so it was an easy decision to make when it came down to it," Kerrison told Cyclingnews of signing for the Continental team which has sent the likes of Richie Porte, Nathan Haas, Will Clarke, Jack Haig and Chris Hamilton to the WorldTour.
"My confidence in their system is 100 percent so it will come down to whether I can tick the boxes to get me there. With the team that we have and the team I have supporting me, Kate and my family and all that, I think we can definitely get there. It's just about ticking the boxes."
Despite that fact that he's "come on in leaps and bounds physically and mentally" in 2016, Kerrison admits the limited UCI racing programme of State of Matter/MAAP hindered his chance to demonstrate his capabilities which saw his earn a ride with the BMC Development squad in 2014 and race in Europe.
"With the amount of UCI races we did, if we had a few more race I might have been able to get a Pro-Conti contract or something but when you only go to four UCI races in a year it is not enough to cement anything with contracts," said Kerrison, adding that he had "nothing but thanks" for the team who are folding at the end of this season.
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Since Kerrison burst onto the National Road Series (NRS) scene in 2013 with Budget Forklifts, he has been racing against the IsoWhey team and explained that has developed a deep respect for the team. He added the level of consistent success the team has enjoyed over the last four seasons and international racing schedule made it an easy decision to sign on the dotted line.
"I have been racing against them since I joined the NRS with Budget and there was always that highly competitive nature between our teams," he said of the rivalry. "It was always one of those mutual respect things because they were so, so good. Having raced against them, it gives me confidence going into the fold because I know how they operate as a team on the field. They have always been very formidable and I think that's the smarts of ACJ along with the strengths of all their riders. That is exciting going into races having such a strong team around."
With IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness also adding fast man Scott Sunderland to the team, Kerrison won't be burdened as the only avenue to sprint wins and is looking forward to a fruitful relationship.
Kerrison is likely to make his debut with the team at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic from January 1-3, along side Sunderland, before heading to the national championships in Ballarat to work as a domestique for his new teammates.
"We will see what happens at nationals but Buninyong obviously doesn't suit me. I would like to have a reasonable ride around there and really help the team as I think we have a few really strong guys who could potentially go for the jersey. From there we will see how I am going and see what I can do in races after that," he said.
A return to the Herald Sun Tour is also on Kerrison's agenda but he is aware the 2017 parcours is not quite his bread and butter.
"The course doesn't suit me, but it's all about throwing myself into those harder races and getting through in the best shape I can and proving that I can do it," he said of the race.
Although IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness is a regular presence in the early-season Asian races, somewhere Kerrison has done historically done well, he is looking to base his season around impressing in Europe later in the year and making up for his BMC Development disappointment of 2014.
"I have a lot to prove, not only to the people I was with but to myself," an honest Kerrison said. "I don't think I gave what I should have been able to give when I was over there. It was the whole learning experience of going to Europe so I want to back myself when I do go over and prove to myself that I can do it."