A quick fist pump for Cameron Meyer (Australia) after his victory in the Men's Points Race Final.
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Australian keen to defend points race, Madison titles
Last year, Australia's Cameron Meyer walked away from the UCI Track World Championships with three gold medals and their three corresponding rainbow jerseys: for the points race, Madison and team pursuit.
This year, the 23-year-old will attempt to win his third consecutive points race title, adding to the one taken in Poland in 2009, and to do so he has dropped the team pursuit from his racing schedule.
In its place, Meyer will compete in the men's scratch race on the opening day of racing in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, so he'll still have a chance to equal his record of last season, but he admits doing so will be a tall order.
"I decided a few weeks ago not to do the team pursuit in order to focus on the points race and the Madison. It could be my last opportunity to ride them before the Olympic Games," Meyer told Cyclingnews.
Meyer has repeatedly demonstrated the qualities needed to be successful in the points race: excellent fitness, the ability to endure repeated red-line efforts and a talent at performing arithmetic while in oxygen debt. But he admits the scratch race takes an added element: luck.
"The scratch race is a bit of a lottery. You could hold the same race 10 times and you might have 10 different winners. You have to have a little bit of luck on your side, and make the right move at the right time. It's a lot shorter race, and a lot faster and punchier.
"I haven't ridden it at a world championship, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I did the scratch race at Commonwealth Games and had an adequate result there - I won the gold. Hopefully I can take a bit of what I did there and apply it here at the world championships."
Winning the points race will also be a big ask, considering Meyer will be a marked man in the race, and will have to rely on both guile and brute strength in order to win.
"It's going to be hard, obviously going into the race as a favorite. I've done the work, so I just have to be confident going in there knowing that I've done the work.
"I do a lot of studying up on my opposition and the races - the points score has always been my speciality. I do a lot of homework on the tactics of my opponents - what their tactics could be and how they ride the race so when I'm out there I can know what to do.
"It's always a complicated race. I've got a bit of experience - this is my fifth world championships, in addition to the Commonwealth Games and Olympics. It's always a different race when you go out there, but you have to have confidence that you've done the training so you can go and go again. I have confidence that I can go in a lot of moves, do a lot of sprints and take laps."
Meyer expects his main challenger to be Dutchman Peter Schep, a world champion in the points race in 2006 and a home town favorite.
"He was also the silver medalist behind me last year, and now he's in front of his home crowd. He's going to want to knock me off that dais, and especially with the home crowd support he'll be quite good."
The field might look a bit different than last year, since the race overlaps with the new long-form omnium.
"Some of the guys I'm used to going up against might be riding the omnium, so it could make for a new field with guys I don't know - like Tom Scully, [Ioannis] Tamouridis from Greece... they'll be going well."
The final chance for gold, the Madison, will again be a team effort with Leigh Howard, Meyer's gold-medal partner of last year. The pair put in an impressive performance earlier this month on their home soil, and are expected to be strong candidates to repeat.
"We used the Bendigo Madison as lead up - and we rode really well there and took three laps to win the race. We're going in as defending champions. It's going to be hard because we'll be targeted and followed a bit going in as favourites.
"We've got a few runs on the boards and we know each other really well. We've got confidence we've done the right preparation and training. The result two weeks ago gave us the assurance that we're on the right track. Hopefully on Sunday we can give it a nudge."
Like many of the endurance riders on the track, Meyer also balances his road career with the Garmin-Cervélo team, with which he will race the Giro d'Italia in May. He expects to further reduce his road schedule next year, with the world championships and Olympics taking up a big chunk of the season, before focusing more on the road in the future.
"Next year the world championship is in Melbourne, so that will be a big event for us. We'll want to perform well for our home crowd - there aren't many chances to do Worlds in your own country.
As for delaying a full-time push at the road, Meyer said he feels he has time to do that in the future while enjoying his time on the track. "I'm only 23 and have plenty of years to go to the road after. At the present time I'm doing well on the track, and pretty well on the road, too."