Australian cycling coach Dave Sanders has sung the praises of Jack Bobridge, following the rider's ProTour debut. Sanders directed Bobridge as a member of the Australian National Team UniSA at last week's Tour Down Under.
"He is a phenomenal talent, he has a heart as big as a lion," said Sanders.
Bobridge gained a reputation as a relentless attacker during the event, with his efforts in the pre-Tour Down Under Cancer Council Classic criterium just a demonstration of what would follow. The rider's efforts earned the 19-year-old the praises of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who he attacked the peloton with on one stage of the race.
"He doesn't need to go professional this year, he is only 19; maybe Pro Continental, with the Australian National team," said Sanders, before adding that Cycling Australia will be looking after the rider. "We hope to have something in place so we can look after him. There has to be plans from Cycling Australia to look after these guys, so we can keep them in the team. He is on his way."
Sanders said while Bobridge has already have professional teams knocking at his door, the rider's short term future is mapped out.
"He has already had knocks on the door, don't worry about that, his future is planned for the next two or three years," he said. "He is targeting the next Olympic [London in 2012] and we have to protect him from doing things too early. He is still only a 19-year-old kid, his future is assured if he keeps doing what he is doing, he just needs to moderate over the next couple of years."
Earlier this month Bobridge won both the Australian Open Road Under 23 road race and time trial titles.