Q & A: Bobridge on setting Hour Record 'benchmark'

On Thursday, Australian Jack Bobridge announced that on January 31 and at the Darebin International Sports Centre velodrome in Melbourne, he will make an attempt on the world hour record of Austrian Matthias Brandle (51.852km set in October this year). After the announcement before the clock at Flinders Street Railway Station in downtown Melbourne, Bobridge spoke to Cyclingnews.

Rupert Guinness: How does it feel now that you have announced your world hour record bid - different to when you planned and spoke of it privately?
Jack Bobridge: Not necessarily. I wouldn't say that. Now you have to go along with everyone else's emotions, but for myself I know what I have to do at the end of the day. We have announced it because we are confident I can do it and I am confident within myself that I can do it. That's why we brought it up and made it public.

RG: How are your feeling with the choice of venue – the indoor Darebin International Sports Centre [DISC] in Melbourne?
JB: Australia holds some of the fastest tracks in the world anyway. We have gone with the DISC because it fits in perfectly with my schedule in the lead up to the worlds and the things I will be doing in preparation for the track worlds. Also we have been watching conditions there for the last few days and they have been fairly good, obviously pending the weather.

But I think out of all the tracks in Australia – we don't have too many slow tracks, they are all quite fast, give or take the weather conditions. Also, everyone is going to be there for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on [the next day] so hopefully it will attract a lot of people and we will get a full house.

RG: Rohan Dennis announced overnight from Europe that he will make a record bid. Did you know about that and has that impacted your mindset at all?
JB: Not at all. I had heard whispers that he was going to do it. It doesn't change anything with me with the way I look at it or will train for it. I have always been a person who just looks at my own back yard, and no one else's really. I think it is fantastic that he is going to do it. Along with 'Wiggo' [Bradley Wiggins], there are three 'trackies' who are going to do an hour event. Instead of just the roadies doing it, you have three world class track riders going for it.

It couldn't be any better. I think you will get the best hour record out of one of those three track riders. Who it will be? Time will tell. It will be exciting for us three who are going to do it and for everyone going to watch. Hopefully it inspires other trackies and roadies to have a go at it.

RG: Are you aiming to just try and beat the record, or do you have a benchmark distance in mind?
JB: I don't want to just break it. I want to put a good benchmark for the other guys behind me to have to chase. At this point I don't have any mark of what I want to do distance wise. All I know is that, personally, I would like to take a fair chunk off [of the record]. It would be great for myself if I could do that.

RG: When did the idea to go for the record first come to your mind?
JB: About a year ago Tim Decker [Cycling Australia men's track endurance coach] brought it up with me. He suggested it and since then things moved slowly at first. Then it grew on me to have a go. Then it started rolling on. Now starting with Budget Forklifts for next year and with Cycling Australia looking after the track riders, it is a fantastic thing to do … and also for Budget Forklifts and for cycling in Australia.

RG: A world hour record attempt can also become a major marketing promotion. Are you concerned about that – and any of the extra attention or demands put upon you in the lead up to it - becoming a distraction for you?
JB: I don't think it will be a distraction. It will be fantastic not just to promote myself but to promote my new team with Cycling Australia track endurance and Budget Forklifts. For cycling in general in Australia, for it to be done by an Australian in Australia and before an Australian crowd, it couldn't get any better. That is why we chose to not do it out of Australia. We wanted to do it for the fans, the team and Australian cycling.

RG: If you break the record you will join the likes of former holders Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain and Chris Boardman … how does that feel for you?
JB: If you break the hour record you go into history with the all time greats. That's another inspiring thing about it – to be in the record books with all those guys. There are not too many who can be. To be able to do that will be pretty special.

RG: Interest in the hour record was pretty dormant for a while, but now there is a flurry of attempts have been made and planned. How do you feel about that?
JB: Now they have changed to the standard bike rules we have today, it has awoken the hour record – an all time man versus bike versus clock [challenge]. It is great for track cycling to give it a boost after losing a few events [in the Olympic program].

RG: What about your program on the short terms now? Will the road nationals be on your schedule? And the Tour Down Under … as a member of the UniSA-Australia national selection as Budget Forklift won't qualify for a start?
JB: I will be at the nationals (at Buninyong, Victoria for the time trial). I will strive to make the Tour Down Under team. It's a pretty hard team to make these days. We have a lot of good young guys pushing for it. But I will put my hand up for a UniSA spot. We will have to wait on the selectors and what type of team they want to take. If I can get a start there it will be put into my training program and run in to the hour record.

[After the hour record] we will head back to Adelaide for the training camp for the track worlds where most of the training there will be based around the team pursuit – not so much individual. The individual will be ridden off a 'TP' training. I would like to do the individual pursuit at the track worlds. It should be a walk in the park after the hour. Remind me of that when I get off the bike at the worlds [laughing].

Rupert Guinness is a sports writer on The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media)

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