No track world title defence in 2014
Australia's Michael Hepburn won't compete at the track world championship in Cali, Colombia between February 26 to March 2, preferring to get precious experience in the Classics with Orica-GreenEdge than further rainbow stripes and medals.
The 22-year-old Australian has won at least one rainbow jersey a year since he won the individual pursuit as a Junior in Moscow in 2009. But he won't defend his 2013 individual and team pursuit titles.
"The track is all about the Olympics," Hepburn told Cyclingnews at the Mitchelton Bay Classic Series.
"I'll focus 100% on the road this year. I've been a pro for two years but the track has taken a lot of time from my road racing. I've had successful World's but February is an important month for building a road season and I've been lacking consistency in the past two years."
Hepburn appeared fit and motivated ahead of the Australian championship where he will target a medal in the time trial event in Ballarat on Wednesday.
"I'm in a good condition but not at 100% yet," the powerful Queenslander said. He won the road title on the same course in his first race as an U23 four years ago at the age of just 18.
Tour of Qatar season debut
Rather than track duties for his country, Hepburn has the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman on his agenda after a team training camp with Orica-GreenEdge.
"I've always started my road seasons in March or April. This year I'll be doing the Classics in Belgium. I'm still young and these races take a lot of time to be good at but that’s an area I want to explore," he explained.
"I also intend to improve in time trials and we've got a lot of great sprinters in the team, so with Caleb [Ewan] coming as well [after the 2014 U23 road world championship], a lot of lead out will be needed."
2014 will a turning point in the history of the Orica-GreenEdge team as young guns like Hepburn are expected to full fill the shoes of Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady, Baden Cooke and Allan Davis, who formed the core of the Australian WorldTour team two years ago.
"The team is totally different from what it was," Hepburn, who was one of the very first signings by team manager Shayne Bannan in 2011, pointed out.
"It's also quite different from the other teams. I think we have eight riders who aren't 23 yet. It's a really young group. A few spots have to be filled. I'll be doing more races this year and hopefully the results for the team will follow. I'd love to win a race but at this point, if my job for the team is done well and if I improve in a lot of areas during the season, it’ll be a good year for me."
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