Opinion: Opportunity to race against best in Europe

After a few years chasing races around North America, Asia, Australia and the odd little spell in Europe, I'll be changing tack slightly for 2013.

I'll be right in the thick of it with the English-based professional team Node4-Giordana.

I'm very excited to be joining such a highly rated team which has some very experienced guidance from a couple of English cycling legends.

It is thanks to my former Pure Black Racing team-mate Mike Northey, who enjoyed a very successful season with Node4. He helped to get me in touch with the team management and secure a spot for the next season.

The team will give me a great opportunity to experience a full European season and test myself against some of the best riders in the world, in races like the Tour of Britain, which this year included the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.

It is a great step forward for me in my career and will hopefully help me to keep moving towards where I want to be - at the very top.

Another exciting aspect of the team is signing three other Kiwi riders who were also part of the very successful 2011 Pure Black Racing team.

We are all great mates and love racing with each other, which always results in a better team performance.

We are looking forward to taking that team spirit and culture to the European scene and seeing what we can achieve.

I'm very grateful for the opportunities and experiences that I have been given by the Pure Black Racing team in the past two seasons, but there always comes a time when a new challenge presents itself and must be taken up.

It has been an amazing experience, riding with a fully New Zealand team all over the world, and I hope the opportunity to do so again is there in the future.

With the growing strength of cycling in New Zealand, there is certainly no limits to what we can begin to achieve in the world's biggest events.

- James Williamson is a professional cyclist from Alexandra.