It's been quite a year for Jack Bobridge: in a few short months the rider from Adelaide has set a new world record in the men's individual pursuit, breaking the mark Chris Boardman set back in 1996, netted another rainbow jersey with the Australian team pursuiters and now has claimed his first world championship in the individual pursuit.
Bobridge bested New Zealander Jesse Sergent in the gold medal final by more than two seconds, and now at just 21, Bobridge has two junior and two senior team pursuit world titles in addition to his under-23 road time trial win of 2009, a result that was much to his great relief in Apeldoorn.
"To come here after the world record ride and to finally get the world title after battling Sergent and Phinney over the past couple of years is fantastic," said Bobridge, who took bronze to the pair in Copenhagen last year, and silver to the American Taylor Phinney in Pruskow in 2009.
"To finally get [a gold medal], and an individual one at that, is what I've been going for over the past couple of years, To get two of two this championships - I couldn't ask for much more."
While Bobridge's 4:21.141 was more than two seconds quicker than his foe, it was still over ten full seconds shy of his record set at the Australian national championships in Sydney in February (4:10.534). Yet it was still a dominating ride on a sluggish track - an effort that could be measured by Sergent's determined but fruitless effort to close the two second gap Bobridge opened in the first kilometre.
"My plan was actually to control the first kilometre more than I did this morning. The track is pretty hard to ride, but I managed to still go out pretty quick. It ended up to my advantage, getting that time up - Jesse found it hard to peg it back and so I managed to pull it off after a couple of years of having a go at it."
Sergent admitted that he just didn't have the speed in the first kilometre to match Bobridge. "It was definitely pretty hard - he got a good gap in the first 2k. He started so fast I couldn't chase him down in the last half. He had an awesome ride. I gave it everything and emptied the tank, so I can't complain. There's a little disappointment in finishing second two years in a row, but it's still a good result."
"The track in general has been slow - both women and men's team pursuit and individual pursuit riders today - it wasn't a fast track which made gear selection and pacing really important. It played a major role in the overall times," said Sergent.
It might be the last time for Bobridge to experience the feeling of standing on the top step of the individual pursuit podium. Now that the event is out of the Olympic programme, he said he will have to make a hard decision if he will continue in the event or put all of his track focus in the team pursuit for London 2012.
"I'm going to have to sit down and assess. To take the world record and world championship in one year is mission accomplished in the individual pursuit. Next year is an Olympic year, and it's all about the team pursuit, so I have to weigh whether it's worth riding next year."
There is one factor making his choice especially difficult - the fact that next year's track worlds will be in Australia. "It would be really hard to sit on the sideline and watch the individual pursuit on home turf in Melbourne."
One rider who could fill his shoes come worlds 2012 is Michael Hepburn, who handily took the bronze from his teammate Rohan Dennis with a time more than a second faster than Sergent. Three Australians qualified for the event, and all three finished in the top 4 - a testament, Hepburn said, to the depth of the Australian programme.
"With three starts in the individual pursuit, we knew we had a strong chance of taking the medals. They're all fast riders - especially Bobridge, who has proven over the past year that he's an exceptional pursuiter. I knew I had my work cut out for me today and I'm just stoked to walk away with the bronze medal.
"There's a great vibe in the team. If you look at the world championship results over the last couple of years, we're top of the medal tally. It comes down to the program and the structure heading toward next Olympics. We had a rebound after Beijing, and we've come out on top in the worlds since then."
Men's individual pursuit final
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jack Bobridge (Australia)||0:04:21.141|
|2||Jesse Sergent (New Zealand)||0:04:23.865|
|3||Michael Hepburn (Australia)||0:04:22.553|
|4||Rohan Dennis (Australia)||0:04:24.087|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jack Bobridge (Australia)||0:04:17.465|
|2||Jesse Sergent (New Zealand)||0:04:21.481|
|3||Michael Hepburn (Australia)||0:04:22.624|
|4||Rohan Dennis (Australia)||0:04:22.667|
|5||Victor Manakov (Russian Federation)||0:04:26.348|
|6||Dominique Cornu (Belgium)||0:04:27.756|
|7||Nikias Arndt (Germany)||0:04:29.033|
|8||Asier Maeztu Billelabeitia (Spain)||0:04:29.121|
|9||Julien Morice (France)||0:04:29.509|
|10||Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands)||0:04:30.687|
|11||Sergi Escobar Roure (Spain)||0:04:31.352|
|12||Arles Antonio Castro Laverde (Colombia)||0:04:31.777|
|13||Vitaliy Shchedov (Ukraine)||0:04:34.615|
|14||Levi Heimans (Netherlands)||0:04:34.686|
|15||Claudio Imhof (Switzerland)||0:04:36.018|
|16||Giairo Ermeti (Italy)||0:04:36.517|
|17||King Lok Cheung (Hong Kong, China)||0:04:37.457|
|18||Kilian Moser (Switzerland)||0:04:37.604|
|19||Baron Castillo Felix Alejandro (Colombia)||0:04:39.517|
|20||Roman Dronin (Uzbekistan)||0:04:48.950|
|21||Berik Kupeshov (Kazakhstan)||0:04:50.282|
|DNS||Samuel Harrison (Great Britain)|