Following his victory in Bath on stage 5 of the Tour of Britain, Jack Bauer confirmed that he would leave Cannondale-Drapac at the end of this season. Bauer told the press in the picturesque surroundings of the Royal Crescent in Bath that it is time for him to 'move on' although he remained coy on where he was moving on to.
"I'll be leaving the team after five years. It's the team that I turned professional with, I've learned a lot, had some great experiences and started some great races with them and it's time to move on," he said during his post-victory press conference. When asked if he knew who he would be riding for in 2017 he gave a simple response, "I do, but that will become apparent in the next couple of weeks."
A move away from the team run by Jonathan Vaughters will be the beginning of a new era for Bauer. He was a late comer to the professional scene, after turning pro with Garmin-Barracuda - as it was named at the time - at the age of 26. He has remained with the team since then, working predominantly as a domestique and earning stage wins at the Tour of Qatar, in a team time trial, and the Herald Sun Tour – his last visit to the top step of the podium.
Bauer has had to endure some big challenges over the past two seasons with serious injuries and selection disappointments. Last season, Bauer broke his femur on stage 5 of the Tour de France after suffering two crashes in torrid conditions. He spent several weeks unable to move and it wouldn't be until September that he was able to begin riding again. After such a bad injury there was plenty of hope going into this season but he broke his wrist four days into the season at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February, putting him out for another month. More disappointment was due when he missed selection for the Rio Olympic Games last month.
It is all of this that has made victory the sweeter for the New Zealander. "I've had so much bad luck in the last year but I'm not a person that sits on my laurels, I like to pick myself up and try again and finally in September I've had some good luck. It's been a long time coming," said Bauer.
"When you can't move and you can't do your daily job for a good amount of time and then you start to get back into it then you begin to realise how much you take for granted. I really appreciate now after recovering from this injury, a broken left femur, I really appreciate what I have and the opportunity that I have. I've tried to make a real go of it this year but this really caps off a difficult season for me."
Learning from experience
Bauer's victory in Bath had roots in an experience he had during the 2014 season. On stage 15 of that year's Tour de France, Bauer had been just metres away from what would be the biggest victory of his career only to have the chasing peloton pass him and leave him with just 10th place for consolation. The image of him in tears just beyond the finish line as he was comforted by his teammates was one of the enduring images of that year's race.
When faced with a baying peloton in the closing kilometres of the race, Bauer was able to draw on that experience to ensure it didn't happen again.
"I learnt a lot from that day from two years ago and if you're in an opportunity to win then you lay it all on the line to win, coming second isn't an option in a situation like that. That's what I had in my mind today," he explained.
"It's hard to see from the outside, when it's not really you that does a finale in a bike race, when you're working for a teammate or a team leader, which I normally do, you're not often put in a stressful situation where the result is up to you. I only get a couple of chances in a year to do that and from my experiences over the last year or two you learn to be a bit cooler in that situation and to just keep a clear mind and remember what is at stake."
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