World champions Howard and Meyer lacking track time
Glenn O'Shea thinks it may be prime time to get a win over dual-world champion madison pairing Leigh Howard and Cameron Meyer at Saturday's Cycling Australia Madison National Championship, taking place at Melbourne's DISC Velodrome.
The madison titles are being run in conjunction with the Para-cycling and Omnium National Championships held on Thursday and Friday.
Adding to what looms as a fascinating showdown, will be the pairing of junior world champions Jackson Law and Caleb Ewan.
O'Shea will partner with Alex Edmondson in the event, and will be hoping to continue on from their Astana World Cup gold medal-winning performance. It was O'Shea's first World Cup appearance since 2009 following a protracted battle with illness with the 22-year-old from Bendigo returning to competition at the Australian Track National Championships last January.
Following the Astana World Cup, O'Shea continued on to the Gent Six Day with compatriot Luke Roberts where they finished eighth overall. Next up was Zurich Six Day where O'Shea paired with Switzerland's Silvan Dillier to claim second overall all.
It's this extra racing on the track which is giving O'Shea and Edmondson the confidence to believe they can outsmart Howard and Meyer.
"They've been at the GreenEdge camp so I don't think they'll be at their absolute best so if there was a chance to knock them off I think this weekend might be it," O'Shea told Cyclingnews.
Howard meanwhile said that he and Meyer's lack of track preparation is "an understatement" this week.
"It's been about eight months since Cam and I even put our leg over a track bike so it's going to be a shock to the system," he admitted to Cyclingnews explaining that they planned to get at least one session in on the pines separately before riding together for the first time on Saturday night.
"It's certainly going to be one of the tougher races," Howard continued. "We're both fit, there's no doubt about that, but the track is a very different thing to the road but we've done nothing on track and Glenn and those other three boys have done a lot on the track. Glenn's come from a world track madison win and two six days in Europe so he's going to be on top form, it's going to be hard.
"We're just going to have to use our strengths and hope that the distance of the race affects those other boys more."
Adding to the intrigue of Saturday's event will be the fact that O'Shea used to pair with Howard before becoming ill, so there is a strong sense of familiarity between riders. Howard and Meyer have a tendency to win their races over the final 60 laps so O'Shea thinks that putting the world champions on the back foot early will be the key.
"We can definitely do well in the sprints, that's how we won Astana – we won on points," he said. "In saying that though, our aim in Astana was to try and take a lap. Usually that's how you win the madison. So our plan was to sit back a little bit and try and take a lap but in the end it worked out we put ourselves in a really good position as far as taking points and then the lap was going so we continued to sprint and that's how we got the result."
The three days of racing in Melbourne are a key component in O'Shea's bid for Olympic selection, following on from Astana with the Beijing World Cup being the next box to tick.
Cycling Australia national performance director Kevin Tabotta, told AAP that O'Shea's recent results which included topping the individual pursuit in Astana and a silver medal in the team pursuit, were promising.
"After his performances in the Astana World Cup, he's starting to enter the thoughts of selectors and coaches in regards to the overall squad," Tabotta confirmed.
"He's certainly in the mix."
In a bid to build his case for selection, O'Shea will also be tackling the omnium, an event he hasn't ridden for four years, knowing that the likes of current world champion Michael Freiberg is currently ahead of him.
"For me to go to the Olympics, I need to be the best omnium rider in Australia and then ride the team pursuit to a certain standard," O'Shea mused. "If it comes to race day and there's four team pursuiters and me, and one of them gets sick, someone's going to have to step up. If you're going well enough in the omnium I honestly believe you can be a good team pursuiter also."
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