Match racing still the best tactic, says Hepburn
Australia's male pursuit team was left with mixed emotions after claiming silver in the at the London Olympic Games. The foursome of Jack Bobridge, Glenn O'Shea, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn coasted through their heat with New Zealand to set up a gold medal race against the British team. And despite a promising start the Australian's were never able to lead, eventually finishing in a time of 3:54.581, as the British team set a new world record of 3:51.659.
"It's disappointing. Yes it's a silver medal and we're very proud of it but we had one goal and to come here and win," Dennis said after the final.
"The last four years we've worked really hard as a team and we're like brothers and we're proud to come home with silver. The GB team were exceptional over the last two days. You couldn't fault anything they did and they deserve the gold and well to them."
The Australians had qualified second fastest in Thursday's track session, watching on as the British set their first world record. And after brushing aside the challenge from New Zealand the British camp expected the Australians to improve on their time of 3.54.317.
After a strong start from the British the Australians began to close on their opposition, chipping away at their slight lead. However they were unable to sustain such a pace and began to drift inside the final two kilometres.
"We went into the final with a plan to race the British team," Hepburn told Cyclingnews.
"You saw in their qualifying rides that they were dialled into that 3:52 and we thought that they'd go out with a similar tactic. We tried to match them over the first two kilometres and our plan was to take it home but they had an exceptional ride and went faster than any other team in the world by a long way. You can't really be too disappointed when they come out and do a 3:51 and you get the silver medal. At the moment it's mixed emotions but I think we can be proud of silver. It wasn't the result we hoped for and dreamed of over the last few years but I think in due course we'll look back and be really proud. They were better and deserved the gold medal."
Hepburn was asked about the Australian's tactics and whether their attitude to racing against the British schedule was their best option but the pursuit specialist pointed out that their plan throughout had been to race the opposition rather than their own time sheet.
"The Australians are usually match racers. That means we like to race the other team rather than ride our own schedule. We like to ride against the other team and it usually brings out the best in us."
Australia's chances weren't helped with an injury ruling out Alex Edmondson. The 18-year-old was ruled out with a pulled muscle sustained before the Games, leaving the team without an alternate.
"Alex has been fantastic, and everyone has to realise his age. He's just turned 18. For someone of his calibre and so young and to be here at the Games, it's extraordinary. We'd love to have the five but there's no doubt that in a year or two he'll be there. The progress he's made since worlds is just unbelievable. Give him a year or two and he'll be Australia's number one pursuiter hands down," Dennis said.
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