Theo Bos returned to the track at the end of last season as a way of changing up his training and improving his sprint. The sojourn onto the boards went so well – he claimed Dutch national titles in the sprint and the kilometre – that he is now about to ride at next month’s UCI Track World Championships in London.
Since his surprise performance at the national championships last November, Bos has gone on to ride the final round of the World Cup in Hong Kong and at the Revolution series in the UK. However, this will be his first opportunity to measure himself against some of his toughest competitors.
“I’m really looking forward to racing in London. I’m really excited,” he told Cyclingnews. “I have no idea where I stand now internationally. For the kilometre, I don’t know what the competition is doing and what I can do. I am curious to see where I stand. Of course, you hope the best but I can only say after the Worlds.”
Bos is a five-time world champion on the track but it has been eight years since he competed at the World Championships. The most recent of his five titles came in the individual sprint in 2007, when he was still just 23. His recent progress has seen him come close to what he was able to do back in his heydey but he now knows that he will need to improve on that if he wants to achieve what he has set out to in 2016.
“I was already close to my old shape and my old times from 8 years ago. Those times are not fast enough for the moment so I have to make a step from Revolution, which was January 23, until now,” he explained. “I have to make a step to compete internationally. I’m working really hard on that at the moment.
“It is going well and I’m really happy with the progress. I’m excited and I’m looking forward to see where I stand. I think I made a little progress after the Revolution. I don’t know what it is worth at the moment.”
Bos’ reason for cutting loose his road programme and returning to the track is his desire to ride the Olympic Games in Rio and perhaps win a gold medal. The 32-year-old has competed in two Olympic Games – Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 – taking silver on his first try but falling short four years later in Athens. His desire to go back and have what he believes is one last shot is such that he has taken a major salary cut to allow his trade team Dimension Data take on more riders.
“For me, this might be the last chance that I can do something at the Olympics. Whatever the outcome, I just wanted to be able to give 100 per cent for it and see what happens. Then sometimes you have to bring sacrifices,” said Bos. “The squad has not been selected yet. I need to prove myself in the next few months, so there is also the possibility that I don’t go to the Olympics.
“For sure, it’s would be really great to be there again. It would be a dream come true.”
What does the future hold for Bos?
Although Bos made his name as a sprinter on the track, he initially started out as a road rider. When he initially ventured towards the track, he saw himself as a kilometre rider but surprised everyone, including himself, when he took his first world title in the sprint in 2004. He would go onto take another two titles in the sprint and one each in the kilometre and the Keirin before he decided to switch to the road in 2009.
Bos has taken over 40 victories since his switch to the road, including a stage of the Tour de Pologne and the Clásica de Almería, but his road career has failed to match the same success as he found on the track. Now that he’s finding success on the track again, does he regret ever leaving it for the road? He says no.
“For sure, I always dreamed winning stages in Grand Tours on the road. That was the goal but I couldn’t reach it. I couldn’t make that goal so people think that it wasn’t smart or I wasn’t happy. I’m very proud of what I did on the road and I wouldn’t to miss it,” Bos told Cyclingnews. “I’m really happy I made that decision because I think that I would have always regretted never giving it a go on the road. I went for it and I gave everything I had to get the maximum result and these are the results that I had. I’m very proud of those results.”
Bos’ current vision is a short-sighted one and he has only set out his plans up to August. After that, it isn’t even on his mind yet. His contract with Dimension Data will finish at the end of the year, opening up his options on whether to remain with the track or go back to the road. Even his programme following the Olympics is still up for debate.
“For me it is also a big question mark,” he said. “I cannot answer that. I don’t know how next year will be I don’t know where I will be. If I don’t reach my goals or if I get my goals, I don’t know if it will be of any influence.”
The UCI Track World Championships take place in London between March 2-6.