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A long day out front is coming to an end for Travis Meyer
Australian yet to discover his calling in professional peloton
Entering the breakaway for the third day in a row at Tour de Langkawi not have delivered an outright result but just being back in the action has given Travis Meyer some much-needed confidence ahead of his 2013 European campaign with Orica GreenEdge.
Life as a professional hasn't been the easiest of paths for the 2010 national road champion Meyer. The Australian turned professional at the tender age of 20 with Garmin-Transitions and enjoyed a promising neo-year, taking results throughout his first season but lifting his performance after a strong start has been difficult.
It's been a number of years since the Meyer won his national title - his most recent victory - during his neo-pro year and believes he's still trying to find his calling in the upper echelon of the WordTour.
"I haven't had a lot of success since I've become a pro, it's been a bit of a struggle really," Meyer told Cyclingnews.
Meyer has been ridden a variety of races over his short professional career and was included in many of the semi-classics before realising he didn't have the power to match the pure classics riders. He's since been thrown a bit of a mixed bag since his first two seasons with Garmin, with his current Orica GreenEdge squad entering him in a huge number of WorldTour events in 2012, to build his still-developing engine.
"When I first joined Garmin I was sort of thrown in a bit of everything, more the smaller races but then when I went to Eneco Tour in August, in my first year (2010) I had a really good tour there and rode quite well in that style of racing," said Meyer.
"So, in the following year in 2011 I did more of the semi-classics but that's where realised there was a massive difference between the Eneco Tour and the proper classics. I was more of a worker but now I've sort of gone away from that area. I don't think I suit that style of racing 100 percent.
"I think I can be a good enough helper there [at the classics] but I don't think I would ever reach a high level in that field," he said.
Meyer has however, been enjoying his time in Malaysia with plenty of miles out in front. He enjoyed a solo escape en route to Genting Highlands on Stage 5, attacked inside 10km to go on Stage 6 and was again off the front on Stage 7 with just one other rider for company.
Getting in the breakaway for the third consecutive day has helped Meyer to drum-up intensity ahead of his European season where he is looking to reduce the amount of WorldTour races and instead focus on races in which he can go for his own result.
"It gives me a bit of confidence to get out there in front again. I haven't had the chance to do that for a fair while so that was nice - to just be involved in the bike race for once," Meyer told Cyclingnews.
"This season I'm doing a mixture of WorldTour and smaller races, probably more smaller races whereas last year I did a lot of WorldTour races. That's what the team wanted, to try and build my level up. Then I did the Vuelta but realistically I was struggling a bit at that level. Now I've dropped back down and doing some smaller races but then I can go for my own results.
"I'm sort of one of those riders who in stuck in the middle a little bit. I think the reason I went all right with the classic-type races was because I'm not too bad at positioning, I get in there and I can get away with it to a point. What I noticed in 2011 is really that when they put the foot down it's a whole other level on those cobbles. That's where I sort of got left behind," he added.
Moving into the Ardennes
The West Australian doesn't appear under pressure at his Orica GreenEdge team with his sports directors throwing him a mixed bag of races which he hopes will eventually lead down the races with shorter and punchy climbs like those featured in the Ardennes races.
"How I see it, where I want to go is more into that Ardennes-type races. Buninyong [the location of the Australian road championships] is different to the Ardennes but it also has similarities with the amount of climbing through the day and the shorter climbs.
"It's made me look at a different avenue. When I was younger I was more of a climber and never really considered myself for the flatter, cobbled races so that's the avenue I sort of want to go down but there is still a lot of work to do in that area as well.
"Even a tour like this I can't climb with the best guys here so I'm stuck in the middle. I don't know, I'm still looking for what I'm good at. At the moment I just float between both races as a helper but I'm hoping I can change that a bit this year and go for my own results as well.
Grand tour opportunities
Lining up for another grand tour is definitely on the agenda for 2013 but Meyer immediately ruled out starting the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France. Another chance at the Vuelta is likely but it all depends on his season leading up to the final three-week tour of the year. It may take him more than a few seasons before he's able to call the shots but for the moment Meyer is focussed on the task at hand in Langkawi - protecting Pieter Weening's second-place overall and then getting ready for Volta A Catalunya, where he's committed to showing his true strength.
"I think I can go down the grand tour line as well. Not as a GC guy at all at the moment. I can't sit here and say I want to do that when the difference between me and those guys is huge. I'd like to be involved in teams where I can do grand tours each year, either as a domestique or over the years as I get better to be an opportunist.
"I trained really, really hard before coming here. My form here is quite good. I think I'm lacking a little bit of race legs but I think for Cataluyna I think I should be going well.