Jack Bobridge was an emotional winner of the men’s Under-23 World time trial Championship. The 20-year old Australian, who will ride for Garmin-Slipstream in 2010, revealed afterwards that his tearful reaction owed to there being "quite a bit of pressure" on him before the race.
The reason? A break back home in Australia in July that lasted "probably a week more than it should have done," and resulted in Bobridge returning to Europe "five or six kilograms" overweight.
"There’s been quite a bit of pressure from the Australian side of things," said Bobridge, whose win maintained his 100% record in time trials this season: he has ridden three, won three, including the Australian championship.
"I did have a break in July and I probably had a little more time off than I should have," he said. "When I got back to Europe there were doubts in my head whether I’d make it in time. But the last two months it’s all fallen into place. To know I’ve done the work, the hard yards, and to get here and take [the title], it was quite emotional.
"My first few races back in Europe were pretty interesting," added Bobridge with a smile. "But I managed to lose the weight. It was 5-6kg [so] I’ve had to watch what I’ve been eating. The gelato shop across the road [Bobridge is based with the Cycling Australia squad, Team Jayco-AIS, in Castronno, Italy] doesn’t help, but everyone’s been very supportive. This past week I freshened up and today I really nailed my form."
The time trial win is Bobridge’s third world title, but his first on the road, and as an individual. He was a member of the Australian team pursuit quartet that won gold in the junior Worlds in 2006 and 2007, and he admitted that his main focus, for the next three seasons at least, will remain on the track.
His decision to sign for Garmin-Slipstream – who announced a partnership with Cycling Australia in May to help nurture young talent – was influenced by the American team’s support of his track ambitions. "They’ve been awesome in cooperation [with Cycling Australia] for the London 2012 Olympics," said Bobridge, a member of the Australian squad that narrowly missed a team pursuit medal in Beijing, placing fourth.
"The British have been the top team, they’ve been the upset of track cycling the last couple of years," added Bobridge, "but the talent we’ve got, and the backing we’ve now got, from Jayco and the other sponsors, gives us awesome motivation to get to London and show the world we’re the best trackies. We’ll be right up their alley by 2012."
Until then, and although Bobridge says his dream is to eventually ride the Grand Tours, he will mix track and road. A full winter track season beckons, building up to the World Track Championships in March, with the Tour Down Under in January a probable interruption.
It was there in January that he caught the eye of Lance Armstrong, who tipped him for great things and – judging by Armstrong’s Twitter posts – has kept a close eye on his progress. Bobridge first met Armstrong on a pre-Tour Down Under training ride, though he says they haven't spoken about the possibility of joining the seven-times Tour winner’s new squad, Team RadioShack.
"There was no discussion about team stuff," said Bobridge. "I had a good chat with him in Adelaide, and I think I caught his eye in the race [in which Bobridge was one of the main aggressors]. I always have good form early season because of the track Worlds. But for him to recognise and notice me as an up-and-coming talent, it’s fantastic, and gives me awesome motivation."
Bobridge is keen to ride the Tour Down Under again in 2010. "It’ll probably be my first ride with Garmin," said Bobridge. "I’m an Adelaide boy, so if I don’t get a start there’ll be a few tears."
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