Australian Jack Bobridge (Budget Forklifts) was one of the 11 riders in Wednesday's breakaway at the USA Pro Challenge. Bobridge is primarily known for his track exploits, which include a silver medal in the team pursuit at the 2012 London Olympics. After several years riding on the road for WorldTour teams, Bobridge and several other members of the Australian pursuit squad joined Budget with an eye on the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Bobridge joined the stage's early break in the opening kilometers of the 163.2km race between Copper Mountain Resort and Aspen. The team's plan was to put Bobridge in the early move ahead of the big climbers so he could have a shot at the finish in Aspen. Bobridge has adjusted well to altitude, and the race was unfolding according to plan despite an injury he's been nursing for several days .
"I've been at altitude now for six or seven weeks, so I don't think the altitude really bothered me today. It was pretty good," Bobridge said. "I've had a bit of a niggly bit of a sore ankle the last few days. I played it up a fair bit yesterday, so I wasn't able to have a go on the final climb, but that's life I guess. There are still plenty of days to come."
Bobridge and the break were caught at the top of Independence Pass just as they crossed the final KOM of the day.
"BMC had shown they are on another level, so two minutes, three minutes, on a climb that big isn't going to change anything for them," Bobridge said. "They've showed us the last couple of days they don't need to panic and they've got the legs."
Bobridge has been on the road in North America with the Budget Forklift squad for several months now. The team raced the Philly International Classic, GP de Saguenay, Tour de Beauce, Tour of America's Dairyland and the Tour of Utah before wrapping up their North American tour in Colorado this week. Team director Cameron Watt said the impact of a rider like Bobridge is invaluable to a team like Budget.
"He definitely lifts the entire team for some of our younger, less-experienced riders," Watt said. "The amount of knowledge he can impart on them and inspiration when he does days like this is priceless for those young guys."
With their GC rider out of contention, Budget's focus has shifted to stage wins and ensuring representation in the break every day. Bobridge is keen for a good result at the time trial and expects the team to continue riding aggressively. Although his longterm plan is to focus on the Rio Olympics, Bobridge is focused on the immediate task at hand: to perform well at the USA Pro Challenge.
"I wouldn't call this pursuit training, this is just road racing," Bobridge laughed. "I'm here racing purely for Budget. It has nothing to do with racing for the track side. Budget is my road team, and we are here to race on the road and get results for them, so that's what we are doing."