For Cameron Meyer, the Australian summer has been a happy hunting ground on the road and the track. However, over the 2017-18 summer, Meyer is aiming higher than ever before. Rejuvenated by a three-year contract with Orica-Scott, 29-year-old Meyer is targeting success on the road, before switching focus to the Track World Championships and a Commonwealth Games on home soil in Queensland.
Stepping away from the sport last year, Meyer took an extended leave before returning via the velodrome in October to springboard one of his best seasons to date. Despite the pressure of riding for a contract, Meyer got off to a blistering start to 2017 with third place at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and fourth at the Herald Sun Tour. He then returned to the track, winning the points race and riding in the winning team pursuit squad at nationals. He then repeated both wins at World Championships in Hong Kong and claimed silver in the Madison with Callum Scotson.
It was then back to the road with the national team as Meyer finished third overall at the An Post Rás and enjoyed success in Europe. Meyer effectively had an 'off-season' in July to ensure he is fresh for the Australian summer, explaining to Cyclingnews his season is "a little bit strange and different to what I've done in the past eight years".
"All in all, it was happy with the results that I did achieve in the races I did this year. I sit here looking forward to next year and looking forward to more racing, so I think I am in a good position," Meyer said.
The Australian national team also featured the WorldTour bound trio of Lucas Hamilton (Orica-Scott), Jai Hindley and Michael Stoter (Sunweb), with Meyer explaining how he enjoyed the team dynamics.
"It gave me a little bit of a new lease of life and working with the young guys was something new and put me in a new role. I really enjoyed it. It was good to work with them and also have my own leadership roles and have them support me. I really enjoyed the experience of the races that I did this year and working with the young guys."
The road to Commonwealth success
Meyer and the Australian track team will bunker down in Adelaide for a two-week camp before he and Scotson jet off to Europe for a block of track racing. The London Six Day, Polish Track World Cup and Gent Six Day are all on the agenda for the duo.
While some of Meyer's rivals will be racing the same events, they will do so at the back end of a long season. Meyer though is at the end of the equation as he points out, and is feeling fresh.
"I am a stage where I quite early in my season whereas as a lot of the Europeans or road professionals are about to come to the end of theirs," he said.
However, Meyer is well aware the next few months are "quite jam-packed" and present a logistical challenge of sorts, but he is relishing considering the rewards on offer.
"You have to balance both Six Days, track racing, track camps, along with the road and fulfilling my new contract with Orica-Scott at the nationals and possibly races like the Tour Down Under, Cadel's Race, Sun Tour. There is a whole mixture and a balancing act between it all, but I haven't done much racing over the last two years and I still feel fresh to want to race quite a bit and I love the Australian summer.
"Those months across January, February, March, all through the Australian road summer into the track World Championships and Commonwealth Games is nearly my most exciting part of the year. I can't wait for that."
"Definitely" down for the nationals, Meyer and the team will confirm whether he starts the Tour Down Under and Herald Sun Tour, two races he's previously won, and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race Race. If it were up to Meyer to make the call, he'd be down for the entire month of racing.
While a date clash with the Sun Tour rules him out of the track nationals, Meyer will then head to the Track Worlds in the Netherlands in March. A familiar prospect but one with a twist in 2017 due to the Commonwealth Games as he explained.
"Whenever I line up at a World Championships I obviously want to be in the best shape that I can and try to perform at the same level as I did in previous years. But with the Commonwealth Games a month after, it will be a bit of a balancing act to try and hold form or peak twice for two major events. I will see what the focus will be."
The October-November block of track racing will largely determine Meyer's approach to the Worlds and could see him lessen his programme with a Commonwealth Games gold medal taking priority over a rainbow jersey.
"I might have to take one event out of the World Championships to lessen that load so that I can perform really at a high standard at both the World Championships and Commonwealth Games."
In 2010, Meyer successfully balanced his Worlds and Commonwealth Games ambitions with gold medals in the team pursuit at both events. He also added a Madison rainbow jersey and points race gold medal at the Commonwealth Games to his palmares. Eight years on, a second team pursuit title is the medal Meyer most wants.
"Going off the nationals this year, there are going to be very fast times, and I wouldn't be surprised if we are close to that world record. That excites me to do that with the team pursuit," he said. "Although I will have the points race at the end of the championships which is always one of my favourite events. The team pursuit holds something special for these Commonwealth Games coming up."
2018 is also a test of sorts for Meyer who ultimately is aiming for an Olympic medal in 2020. And for the Beijing Olympian, he "couldn't have asked for a better contract" to allow him to chase his dreams with Orica-Scott and the national track team.
"I am looking forward to getting back to a lot of guys I raced with over those years at Orica, and I have a lot of mates there, both staff and riders, and I just think it is exactly what I wanted," he said of the team he rode with between 2012 and 2015.
"It will allow me to get really good performances out the track and the road. I think there is that special connection where I can go and represent Australia at World Championships and Commonwealth Games next year and have that feeling of being in a WorldTour road team. I think it is the perfect fit and hopefully, really good results come out of that."