Glen O'Shea has a fourth career omnium Track World Championships medal after his third place finish in the six-discipline event, having tied on 191 points with Colombian Fernando Gaviria and German Roger Kluge. O'Shea stole two laps on the field in the final event of the omnium, the 160-lap points race, but it wouldn't be enough for the Australian to add to his 2012 world title who was nevertheless content to add to his growing medal collection.
"Happy but, jeez that was close wasn’t?," O'Shea told reporters in the Lee Valley VeloPark of his reaction to claiming bronze. "Two days of racing and three guys on the same points. [Elia] Viviani only two points behind, you don’t get any closer. It’s probably a good sign way they changed the format, it was exciting, it was close.
"That second lap I got was a bit late towards the end, I didn’t have the legs to so the sprint in the end. Considering where I was after the pursuit, to find my way to the podium, I am really, really happy with that."
O'Shea's medal was the fifth of the championships for Australia and the second on day 4, following on from Matthew Glaetzer's silver medal in the sprint.
The 26-year-old's started the omnium with fifth place in the scratch race, 17th in the individual pursuit, sixth in the elimination race, fifth in the kilo and 11th in the flying lap to start the points race on 102 points. O'Shea's bid for a the gold would require an aggressive and tactical approach in the final event and that's precisely how it played out in front of another packed house.
"I don’t think I’ve ever been in a race that close before, it was even exciting for me to be in it and I enjoyed it," he said. "I guess going into the race, I was a far way behind, I thought the podium was within reach and I think I rode with that freedom and rolled the dice a few times, going on the offensive and it paid off. Not quite for the win, but jeez, I got close."
O'Shea added that once he gained his first lap on the field, his persistence paid off when he added a second late in the play to further move up the standings but it would leave him short in the final sprint.
"That first one was just well timed, I went with some good riders and at the end there, everyone was hurting, I knew that if I just kept chipping away, I was a big chance to get that second lap," he said. "I was lucky enough I got away with a really strong rider in Lasse Norman Hansen who was determined to go and I was determined to hold his wheel. We managed to sneak around there but as I said, it was a little too close for me to contest the sprint.
"I knew I had to beat three guys, I tried but all I could do was sit up and be happy with third, and hope Viviani didn’t contest the final sprint. I was lucky Cavendish led it out and won there. If Viviani wins the last sprint, there are four of us on the same points and I miss out on a medal. That’s how close it was."
It wasn't clear in the immediate aftermath of Cavendish claiming the final sprint who would be taking home the rainbow jersey or even the medals as O'Shea recounted his conversation with silver medallist Kluge on the podium.
"I spoke to Roger there and he didn’t even know I was in the second one there, that’s how hard it was, there were people everywhere and I got around," he said of his second lap. "I think Fernando, I didn’t really speak to him but he’s a great bike rider and showed the last two years that he’s the best in the world at the moment. In the points race, he showed he was in control for most of the way and jeez he rode well over the whole two days."
Four years ago, O'Shea was part of the Australian quartet that claimed silver in the team pursuit at the London Olympic Games and finished fifth in the omnium. O'Shea was part of the Australian squad that won consecutive team pursuit gold medals at the 2013 and 2014 Worlds but following the success, explained that made a considered choice to focus solely on the omnium in the hope of claiming an Olympic gold medal in Rio this August. Opting out of the team pursuit to pursue his personal ambitions.
"I have to be selected first and to be honest, I’ve probably stepped away from the team pursuit now," he said of his racing programme. "I’ve decided for the last 18-months, the last two world championships, [that] I’ve only come here to ride the Omnium. I’ve been on the podium two times but when we have the team pursuit guys as world champions, there are only five guys who they can take. I put my hand up and say, jeez I was close to winning the world title there but I’ll leave that up to the selectors. I’ve put my best foot forward."
With gold in 2012, bronze in 2013, silver in 2015 and bronze again this week, O'Shea has been one of the most consistent male omnium riders since the London Games and believes he can challenge for a medal at the pinnacle event of track cycling in Rio.
"I believe I can go to Rio and be a chance. I had one bad event, and to be honest a bit out of character, I should have ridden faster in the pursuit and there are no excuses there. You can’t say it clost you a gold medal but I was close," he said of his 17th place in the individual pursuit.
Asked the secret of his success to his consistency across the six omnium events over the last four years, O'Shea explained it was a simple formula and one he hopes will take him to the top step of the podium in Rio.
"One is experience, I’ve been doing this for four of five years now," he said. "Training, the work I do back home and for three months I’ve just been targeting this event. As I’ve said, I’ve stepped away from the team pursuit. Me and the coaches to be honest thought that maybe I am good enough for the team pursuit, maybe I am not but there is a great squad there. I am good enough to go to Rio and be a real contender and I am determined to concentrate on that at the moment."
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