RYAN VISSER has made cycling look easy this winter but he says it is all down to putting in the miles during a six-month sabbatical from racing.
The Redhill Cycling Club star has raced to the top of the rankings in the South East Road Race League's Winter Series, with four victories from the opening seven races of the series giving him 45 points so far and a place at the top of the Second Category charts.
It is a meteoric rise for Visser, who only took up cycling seven years ago after a stint in sailing, with his first competitive race only a couple of years ago after a move to Redhill from Oxford.
Club chairman Adrian Webb recently said the 29-year-old's progress up the charts was beginning to look like that of The Jam with the number of times he has gone straight in at number one.
But Visser himself says his success has been down to putting in the miles training last year in Majorca.
"I took six months off from racing because I felt that I just needed to get away from it," he said. "I went back to riding in Majorca where my family live and put in the hard miles there.
"Then when I came back to the winter racing, I had the form from the summer training and it has been great."
And Visser, who is making a name for himself with his Mark Cavendish-like sprint finishes, is now targeting a successful end to the Winter Series and a move up to Category 1 status in August.
"I want to win the final race next weekend and bring home the trophy," he said ahead of the final race at the Cyclopark in Gravesend.
"I have beaten a lot of Cat 1 riders and elite riders in the last few events and the big thing for me now is to see if I can do it over longer distance racing.
"The question is can I last 85 miles with them and still have a sprint left in me?
"Time will tell, but I have worked out how to get race wins and it will be a case of going to Majorca and putting in the miles again to make that step up."
The South African-born cyclist will need 200 points to move up, but on his current form he says there is no reason why he can't achieve that by August, with the aim of 300 points and a step up to elite level the target for next year.
Visser said he owes a lot to his team-mates though, who have helped to set him up for sprint finishes in recent races.
"We are a close-knit group and all the guys are great," he said.
"We have some great riders and a good team spirit and I believe we are starting to go places."
That's not to say Visser wants to escape Surrey though, as he said he loves the county for cycling.
"It is a fantastic place to ride," he said. "I love it here and I love going out on the bike. It is the best place to cycle with a great mix of hills and flats."