By Anthony Tan
After defeating world sprint champion René Wolff 2-1 at last Sunday's Sydney Thousand Match Race of the Century, dual Athens Olympic champion Ryan Bayley says his season of injuries and problems are behind him. However, his real test of form and fitness will come at the Oceania Track Championships starting this week, followed by Saturday's Melbourne Cup on Wheels at Vodafone Arena.
"Putting it simply, 2005 absolutely sucked for me, it's probably one of my worst years," said Bayley. "Coming off 2004 being such an awesome year, then coming into such a bad year with injuries and problems and trying to find motivation, 2005 absolutely sucked. It's almost December and the end of the year, but I'll take it [a win] when it comes."
"[The win] actually shows me I'm going a hell of a lot better than I thought. I thought I was a bit rusty with sprint tactics because I hadn't raced all year, but it's like the saying, 'Once you learn how to ride a bike, you don't forget it'. The speed's all there because I trained my arse off for so long now, I'm fit again, I'm back to where I need to be and the tactics are there, so everything's heading towards where I need to be for the future."
Asked how he felt about being paired against Wolff, Bayley replied: "It's very different. When I'm racing a [World Cup], I want to win, I want to kill the person next to me. It's very, very hard to cut the pressure out of it.
"Here, the pressure's not such a big thing and I can just race my bike; at the Olympics, I've got the whole of Australia on my back trying to do everything with me. So I'm trying to block everything out - you see a lot more head-games being played - so it's a hell of a lot harder at the Olympics."
The 23 year-old said it was unfortunate Australia isn't able to entice as many international riders for a low-key meet like the Sydney Thousand. "Back in the old days, we got them with [Jens] Fielder and people like that, so it's good to see René and Mathias [John] bite the bullet and come down."
With track sessions for the Oceania Championships from Wednesday to Friday before the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Saturday, December 3, Bayley admitted the week ahead of him will be a challenge. "It's going to be a very hectic week for me," he said.
Wolff also to star in Melbourne
At the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Saturday, Bayley will once again face off against Rene Wolff in the sprint contest. The Melbourne Cup on Wheels kicks off a four-event series of track meetings organised by promoter Cyclists International. The series resumes after Christmas with the Sid Patterson Grand Prix at Darebin International Sports Centre (DISC), Saturday, January 21, 2006. That's followed by the 108th Austral Wheel Race, Saturday February 4 at Vodafone Arena, and the series finale will be the Australian Madison Championship, Saturday, February 21 at DISC.
For Vodafone Arena event tickets contact Ticketek, 132 849 and for DISC events call Cyclesport Victoria 03 8480 300.