Joseph Cooper ventured into the unknown and found he didn't fancy it.
After signing with Pure Black racing this year, the 26-year-old Johnsonville rider was told a few exciting things might happen if he hung in there.
Few did and his best result came in a New Zealand national team, when he finished 10th overall at the prestigious Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia.
It was an exceptional performance amid teams and riders from the very top echelon of the sport.
"I was on cloud nine after that race and then, just through not having a very structured team management, I didn't know what direction they wanted me to go in," Cooper said.
So when Australia's top domestic team - Genesys Pro Cycling - came calling again, Cooper didn't hesitate to take up a contract offer, having almost signed for them once before.
"I've always looked at them and gone ‘man, that team is like a well-oiled machine' and I've always wanted to be on a team like that, which has the same goals as me," he said.
"It's always good to know people have noticed how I've been riding throughout the years and it makes it all worth it."
Cooper flies to the team's base in Tasmania on Friday, to begin a two-week training camp. He'll find out what next year's race programme is then, but knows from the team's strong history that they'll deliver on any promises made to him.
Encouragingly, Cooper's been signed as a general classification rider. That'll leave him free to pick and choose his races a bit and cross the start line safe in the knowledge the team will gear their efforts purely around him.
"I've definitely wanted to step up into a team like Genesys and see if I can unlock more of my potential. If I've got six dudes working for me, that'll leave me with so much more energy at the end of the stage."
Genesys also have a proven ability to push guys on to the highest level. The exciting Richie Porte is now with Team Sky, while Will Clarke and Nathan Haas have graduated to Pro Tour teams too.
It remains to be seen if Cooper can do similar.
"It's definitely still a goal of mine, but I'm also more than happy to just ply my trade well for a good team. I guess I probably nearly am at that age where it could be a bridge too far, but I've invested so much time now that walking away is not really an option," he said.
Genesys will compete at next month's Tour of Manawatu, where Cooper will arrive as a two-time King of the Mountains winner.
"The yellow jersey will definitely be the priority this time, instead of just the bridesmaid of King of the Mountains."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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