Jack Bobridge has revealed that he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, but the Blanco Pro Cycling rider said the disease will not stop his career. The 23-year-old Australian was diagnosed with the condition in 2010.
“Training was nearly unbearable and I was constantly sleeping because my body was so worn out,” he told the Adelaide, Australia, newspaper The Advertiser.
The diagnosis was a shock. “It was a bit dampening for a little bit because it's quite rare for someone of my age. But you can dwell on it or think `that's just the roll of the dice' and it's something I have to deal with.”
Medication helps him to overcome the problem, which appears to strike at random times. "Most of the time you don't know you have it. For some reason there are random days where it does flare up and is quite painful.
"It will get worse over time but very slowly, it's manageable and doesn't get in the way of my training or racing with medication."
Bobridge has left his native Australia's WorldTour squad Orica-GreenEdge after only one year, saying he needs to “grow up” and challenge himself.
"Everyone's got to grow up at some point ... a lot of people might get to the end of their career and go `sh**, I could have done a lot better'," he said.
"So I think realising that you have to do something and grow up at a younger age is probably the best thing to do to move forward."
2012 was a difficult year for him, as a crash in the national time trial championships knocked him out of both the national road race – where he was defending champion – and the Tour Down Under. An arrest for drunk driving in Spain in June didn't help matters, and he was on the disappointed Australian pursuit team which was unable to win gold at the London Olympics, finishing second behind Great Britain.
His decision to leave Orica-GreenEdge was a mutual one and he says he was not released by the team.
"I tell everyone - it's not a bad team at all, fantastic riders, fantastic staff, really well-organised. But the decision was to move forward as an athlete, find out who I am on the road and get away from the AIS-Australian scene for a little bit.
"I was getting comfortable in that environment. For my future and the way I was going about things (I had) to go somewhere (else)."
His future at Blanco, the former Rabobank team, “is different to what I've had previously," he said. "The new team really believes I can climb well and time trial. These things definitely don't happen overnight, but their goal with me is five or six years of development."