In 2015 Miles Scotson inserted himself front and centre into the conversation regarding the composition of Australia's team pursuit track squad for the Rio Olympic Games this August. The 22-year-old won the U23 Australian national time trial and road race in January last year before riding in the team pursuit squad that won bronze in the 2015 French Track Worlds. 12-months on and Scotson was standing on top of the podium with a rainbow jersey on his shoulders, a gold medal around his neck and brother Callum by his side.
With the first part of the season dedicated to the velodrome, besides an appearance at the nationals where he was second in the time trial and third in the road race, Scotson headed off to Azerbaijan for his first serious block of racing to get some miles into his legs in preparation for Rio
"The first stage of Azerbaijan being back in the peloton was bit of a shock as I realised it was over six months since I had done road racing of that level in a big peloton. I didn't get all of Tour of Iran in my legs as I was unfortunate to get pretty sick while I was there but it was essential to get those two tours," Scotson told Cyclingnews on his recent return to Australia.
"I think Azerbaijan was a bit of a shock to the system racing over those distances but it came back pretty quickly and I am healthy now and I think I've come out of pretty well."
The Eurasian racing programme was Scotson's first appearance in Team Illuminate's colours, having signed with the American Continental squad late-last year. Scotson explained that with the Rio Olympics as his major objective of 2016, Team Illuminate offered him the necessary flexibility to combine both road and track commitments.
"It was the first time meeting the manger and my teammates, and I have to give it to my team, they have been really flexible. It's pretty hard to find an international team which will allow you to make such big commitments to the track and I don't take that for granted," he said. "That's probably the best thing about my team, is that they are being flexible and giving me racing when I need it and no real pressure to perform either really. Just being able to enjoy it, get some racing and go for some results as well, has been really great.
"This year was always about going for the track but I also wanted to find a different team to where I was for a stepping stone to hopefully being full time in Europe next year. Basically, most teams would say no when you said you could only do limited racing for the year and they came on board and were prepared to do that. It was always part of signing the contract that that was part of the deal as well."
The Tour d'Azerbaïdjan also provided Miles Scotson with his first opportunity to race alongside Callum on a trade team in 2016.
"It was good that we got one tour in together. It was Callum's first overseas UCI race so it was a good learning experience for him and I managed to pass on a little bit of advice and he realised how different it is to a small Belgian kermesse or NRS race," he said. "Obviously he was pretty strong with a top-ten on one of the stages and I think it'll be good towards the end of the year with our team or one day in the future with another team to keep racing together."
Back in March, the duo had ridden the final of the team pursuit on the track on London with Australia beating the Bradley Wiggins-led Great Britain team. While Miles Scotson rode the qualifying rounds at the 2014 Worlds, London was his first final and to share the gold medal with his brother was a moment to savour as he explained.
"When I was there I was so focused on myself and just my own job as it's a pretty high pressure situation with a lot of nerves and it's not to after that you're together as a group, huddling in after you win that you realise you're there doing it with your brother," he said. "I won a world title in the team pursuit before but this time to have a younger brother there, was pretty special and something I'll always look back on."
Heading to Rio
The Australian team pursuit squad is set to be announced at the end of the month with a training camp in Arizona to decide the starters and reserves for Rio. Scotson is likely to make the cut and will be aiming to add an Olympic medal to his collection of national, World and Commonwealth Games medals.
"The final group, they keep cutting it down smaller, is still not picked for Rio but the group we have now heading away to the training camp, one person's probably not going to ride in Rio," he said. "Everyone is so strong and it's so even, but one person will be in that reserve role. I am super motivated now and besides the world championships, its been a pretty dry run in terms of results away on the road so the motivation is there and I am trying to do everything I can do and as a group as well, we are definitely heading in the right direction to chase the Olympic gold."
With Michael Hepburn, Jack Bobridge and Alexander Edmondson in the frame to return from the squad that won silver in the London 2012 Olympic Games, along with Glenn O'Shea for the omnium, there are several experienced riders in the squad. At 22, Scotson finds himself in the middle of the experienced and young riders, explaining he believes the team has the right mix for success.
"I think the atmosphere in men's track endurance from when they were in London has changed so much. For Michael Hepburn to walk back in at the end of last year, he realised how much it changed with the attitude towards training and a different way to training how they were four years ago," he said. "At times, he probably questioned it as it was different to what they are used to. So it's two different mind-sets. They obviously come in and offer a lot of advice and stuff like that but I think they are almost having to adapt to the new training methods themselves."
Despite the adjustment to changes in team pursuiting since London, Scotson is confident the likes of Bobridge and Hepburn can help deliver Australia to its first gold in the discipline since 2004.
"Their experience on race day and calmness really helps I think when the team is pretty young," he said. "They've been there and done the Olympic Games and they bring some leadership qualities to the team being that little older as well. You can't just take 20, 21 year olds away to an Olympics and expect them to go for gold. You need a mix of some older experienced riders and some younger riders."