Having reversed his decision to step away from cycling mid-way through 2016, a reinvigorated and enthused Cameron Meyer is back and will line out at the Tour Down Under as one of five former winners in the race. The 29-year-old makes his seventh appearance at the race and first for the UniSA-Australia wild card as its road captain and joker in the deck.
"For me to be in here, in a little bit of different role, it gives me excitement and I am really looking to working with the young riders and going out there and having a crack this week," Meyer told a small group of reporters in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Adelaide.
Although Meyer rode several track events to close out 2016, the Tour Down Under will be Meyer's first World Tour and stage race since the Tour de Romandie in May of last year. With a start list featuring the likes of World champion Peter Sagan, Richie Porte (BMC) and four-time champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott), Meyer was quick to pay respect to his rivals but isn't in Adelaide this week to merely make up the numbers.
"It is the same in 2011 when I won, I wasn't a favourite and something special happened that week. Something special can always happen," he said.
With a change in director sportifs from Dave Sanders to Brad McGee, there will a shift in UniSA-Australia's approach to the race but Meyer is urging his younger teammates to be bold.
"Don't be afraid just because you are versing some of the best riders in the world to not have a crack," was Meyer's advice for his teammates. "Hopefully even at my age and my seventh Tour Down Under I am going in with the same attitude of going out there and giving it my best and if I see opportunities, I will try and take it."
Like the majority of the Tour Down Under peloton, Meyer sees the stage two finish at Paracombe as the new ‘queen' stage of the race which will then decide how the rest of the race plays out. Time bonuses, available at intermediate sprints and on the finish line, are important components in the shaping of the general classification. Meyer believes they will become more important after Paracombe.
"I think this year you really have to focus on the hilltop finish on stage 2 first, before you look to time bonuses," he said.
"Three seconds won on the first stage can be lost very easily on the top of Paracombe so I wouldn't be surprised if these time bonuses are taken by the breakaways and not really looked at this year for the first one or two days until Paracombe is done and you really know where you are at. Then you can assess about stage 3 and stage 4 and maybe pick up some extra seconds."
With the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Herald Sun Tour to come for Meyer in January, Meyer is looking to start his journey through to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games on the front foot having returned to the sport both mentally and physically refreshed.
"I have been racing since I was 12 years old and pro for eight years and some guys are able to handle that for 16 years in a pro career and I just found that I needed that little break that I hadn't done in a long time and since then, I have really enjoyed being back in the training environment and the racing environment and I am raring to go."
Click here to subscribe to the Cyclingnews podcast.