Bannan pleased as Hepburn, Meyer earn rainbow jerseys
GreenEdge earned its first two world titles on Saturday evening at the UCI Track World Championships with neo-pro Michael Hepburn winning the individual pursuit crown and Cameron Meyer chasing down his third points race world championship.
When it came to the individual pursuit, Bobridge and Hepburn were in the same qualifying heat which was merely a preview to the main event with Hepburn also finishing on top.
"It's something very special but after the disappointment in the team pursuit the other day, that's the one we really wanted," unashamedly admitted Hepburn. "It was nice going into the final knowing that whatever happened, GreenEdge and Australia would have a rainbow jersey in the individual pursuit."
In the final, given the knowledge that the pair share of each other's style – Bobridge the more aggressive; Hepburn winding up to reach a crescendo – the key was not to panic despite the near-two second lead Bobridge had amassed at the halfway mark in the final.
Hepburn put the afterburners on, looking across the track every now and again to check on his progress, up ever so slightly with a kilometre left to race.
"I tried to go into the race confident but at the same time, Jack's probably the best individual pursuiter in the world," Hepburn said. "He's one of the most hungry pursuiters in the world and I knew he wasn't going to give in. I couldn't give him an inch and I'm just thankful that I had enough to get over the line."
Adding to the significance, was the fact that it was Hepburn's first individual success on the track on the world stage, with previous world titles coming courtesy of the team pursuit (2010, 2011). On the road it's been a different story, last year winning two stages of the Tour de l'Avenir and a stage of the Tour of Norway.
"It's been a couple of years," Hepburn said of his battles in the individual pursuit. "I haven't gotten out of that qualifying round but today I got it right. Such kind words by Jack, handing over his title to me," he started before Bobridge, defending champion from 2011, chipped in.
"I don't know that I handed it over," Bobridge said.
"We both took today as seriously as each other and the rainbows are still under the same roof," Hepburn then suggested with the pair living together this year.
But Hepburn's win was just the start of the celebrations with Cameron Meyer reclaiming the points race title he had lost in 2011 after winning it the two years prior. With Ben Swift in the lead, Meyer took a leap of faith with around 20 laps remaining and decided to go on the hunt to gain a lap with New Zealander Aaron Gate in tow. Swift tried to follow but couldn't and with Meyer and Gate joining the back of the field, the Australian took out the penultimate sprint, ensuring victory by one point.
"I was going to fight to the death," Meyer told reporters of his all-or-nothing approach.
"It's one of the pinnacles of my career so far," he continued. "Last year I was going for number three and the Colombian rode an excellent bike race and I finished with silver and I think I learnt a lot from that... I was followed so much and I got a little bit frustrated last year. It was one of those ones where I couldn't do my own tactics and I got shut down a lot. I think I learnt how to deal with that."
Back in Europe, GreenEdge general manager was getting updates via text message while sports director Matt White made sure he was home in time to watch the action unfold on television. Bannan told Cyclingnews that the two victories meant a lot to the trade team.
"When we first started we said we wanted to value add to Australian cycling, including track cycling," he explained. "It's an Olympic year, so an important one, so we're working closely with the Australian coaching staff to make sure that we all get the best out of these guys."
Bannan explained that the rider's ability to juggle both road and track commitments "makes these guys the best at what they do" and that track formed an important part of their development.
Meyer back to team pursuit?
The 2012 World Points Race Champion has not ridden as part of the team pursuit since Australia's victory in 2010, preferring instead to concentrate on the points race and the Madison but with the Olympic Games on the horizon, there is some suggestion that he could be making a return.
"We're going to have a discussion between the coaches and I straight after these championships," Meyer admitted.
"There was something in me when I was watching those team pursuit boys on Wednesday night. I would have loved to have been out there to help them beat the Brits. It wasn't to be. I put my focus on the points score and Madison for one last time and I'm very happy that I did. That meant so much to me out there today."
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