Michael Hepburn, a 17-year-old Brisbane cyclist, set a new world record of 3:16.385 in the 3,000m pursuit qualifiers at the Australian Track Cycling Championships in Adelaide's Superdrome.
Hepburn clipped two tenths of a second off the previous record, 3:16.589sec, which was set by American Taylor Phinney last June in Los Angeles.
Despite knowing his form was good, Hepburn was a bit surprised. "I knew I would go quick, but I didn't think I would go that quick. I thought I would go around the 3:18 mark," said Hepburn. His coach had him on a schedule for 3:18 ride. "The last kilometre I had a bit left in the tank and I lifted it above the schedule, so I am pretty happy with that."
In the qualifying ride Hepburn was on the track at the same time as South Australian Dale Parker who had been touted as the rider to watch, having come agonisingly close to the World Record time at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival last month. Parker's 3:19.544sec was the fourth fastest time in the round and put him in the ride-off for bronze against Tasmanian Peter Loft who rode 3:19.374sec.
Hepburn admitted lining up against Parker was a little daunting. "I did feel the pressure because there were many guys saying how fast he is and how fast he was going to go today but I knew I would be able to give it a good run," said Hepburn.
Hepburn switched from triathlon to cycling three years ago and last year represented Australia on the road at the Junior World Championships. He rides on the road with the Fly V-Australia team but in his second season on the track he has set his sights on representing Australia in the individual pursuit at the Junior World Track Championships in Moscow in August.
"It was a great experience last year at the road [World Championships] but I am hoping to go for the track this year for something different," said Hepburn.
In the final Hepburn will face West Durbridge, who qualified for the gold medal ride with his time of 3:19.184sec, a personal best time for him.