Luke Davison (Budget Forklifts) is a markedly changed rider from the brash youngster that won three world championship titles in South Africa nearly four years ago. A deserved winner of the Junior Australian Track cyclist of the year in 2008 for his efforts, Davison was burdened with huge expectations; expectations that perhaps hindered his progression.
An ill-fated year with the AIS squad in 2009 burned Davison out, and for over a year, to the dismay of his coaches, he hung up the bike. In many ways it was a year Davison needed, he went into full-time work often riding his bike less than an hour a week if at all, but he matured during that time, and is now back on the bike and transformed.
When he did make his return to cycling, through a leg-up from SASI (South Australian Institute of Sport) director Tim Decker, Davison said that his outlook on cycling had changed. More focused, more grounded, and enjoying riding again he rode with Jayco-2XU for the first half of 2011 before making a switch to continental outfit Budget Forklifts. That move has seen Davison flourishing once more, and with the Oceania Championships just a week away Davison told Cyclingnews that the confidence is back, and he's rediscovered that hunger for success.
"You’ve got to remember how to win, and that takes a while. But then the hunger develops and you start hunting out the wheels you need to be close to, naturally that means you ride closer to the front, and you have to be stronger to do that. It’s a snowball effect, and you end up being in the mix a lot more."
The Australian explained that with the difficulty of the road race course in New Zealand unsuited to his characteristics he's put all his eggs in one basket as he aims for gold in the time trial.
"All my training over the last month has been time trial specific. Three or four sessions per week [with the SASI squad in Adelaide] where that’s all it’s been about, so hopefully that can translate into a good result," said Davison.
Though not normally a specialist in the time trial, Davison showed he can feature amongst the best in the discipline, with a sixth place at nationals behind Jay McCarthy and Rohan Dennis - neither of which will be at Oceanias. Since then he said that he's been clocking some strong numbers in training, and he's confident that given things coming together on the day he's in with a strong chance.
"The confidence is there, you can’t start a 40 kilometre time trial not thinking you can win it - then you’re already behind the eight ball. I think there are four or five guys who can win - guys like Calvin Watson who is flying at the moment and [Damien] Howson. If [Campbell] Flakemore has held his form from nationals then he’ll be hard to beat as well. I’ve placed a lot of emphasis on Oceanias because it’s a major chance for me to make that nationals squad, and earn a place for l’Avenir, or under 23 worlds."
The Oceania Road Championships start March 16.