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by Shane Stokes
November 11, 2014
After a mixed five years at WorldTour, Jack Bobridge has shifted his focus and will work towards what he hopes will be team pursuit gold on the track at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The 25 year old is one of five members of Australia’s track endurance program which have been confirmed as competing with Team Budget Forklifts next season.
Bobridge, who was the national road race champion in 2011 and also took the individual and team pursuit world championship gold that season, further highlighted his class that year when he broke a record previously thought to be unbeatable.
At the Australian elite track championships he recorded a time of 4 minutes 10.534 seconds for the individual pursuit, beating Chris Boardman’s previous world record of 4 minutes 11.114.
The latter was set in the now-banned superman position, handing Boardman a significant advantage and ensuring that it would remain unbroken for 15 years. Many predicted it could stand indefinitely, but Bobridge had the ability to prove them wrong.
The Australian competed with Garmin-Transitions in 2010 and 2011, then spent a year with Orica GreenEdge. He moved to Blanco Pro Cycling/Belkin in 2013 and remained there until this season.
However, despite that background, he will spend more time in Australia in 2015, competing on track and road with the Team Budget Forklifts squad. He became a father in August and being close to his daughter is one factor in the decision.
He also said that a drop in motivation in relation to the racing he had been doing was another.
“I’ve done five years in the WorldTour but the WorldTour is not for everybody,” he told Adelaide Now. “The first few years I enjoyed it thoroughly but the last few years I lost a little bit for this kind of racing in Europe.”
“It was a decision I wanted to make, I talked to (coach) Tim Decker about going back to Australia and joining a team so I could focus on Australian racing and the track 100 per cent.
“And with my experience from the WorldTour I can give a massive amount to Budget Forklifts and the road racing they do in Australia, Asia and America. It’s a win-win for both parties.”
Bobridge pointed out that prior to the London Olympics, the riders for the team pursuit squad all had different programmes and it made it difficult for them to be in their best possible condition.
“This is the best avenue to achieve my goal of winning gold at the Rio Olympics. I also aim to achieve some great results on the road along the way,” he added in a team announcement Monday.
“It’s really great that a team such as Budget Forklifts is going to back our men’s track endurance program through to Rio.”
He described the approach as a first for an Australian team and something he believes will be very important for the Rio campaign. “The partnership is going to boost the track endurance team and bring some great results for Budget Forklifts on the road.
“I’m really excited to get 2015 underway. I know the track endurance squad will seek to make the most of the opportunity that Budget Forklifts is giving us on both the track and the road.”
Bobridge will be joined by four others from the track endurance programme; Glenn O’Shea, Luke Davison and Mitchel Mulhern were part of the victorious Australian team pursuit squad at this year’s worlds, while 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Scott Sunderland will also be on board.
Davison raced with the Synergy Baku squad in 2014 but now goes back to the squad he competed with in the past and with whom he took the overall victory in the 2012 National Road Series.
“I’m very happy to rejoin the team,” he said. “I had the opportunity to be a part of such a great team in 2011 and 2012 and the they played a crucial role in helping win the National Road Series.”
“Team owner Tim Leunig and manager Cameron Watt have gone from strength to strength and made it a very easy decision.
“I couldn’t find a better fit to complement my track ambitions and I’m very motivated and excited to play a pivotal role in their 2015 successes.”
According to Tim Decker, Cycling Australia’s Men’s Track Endurance Coach, a lot of work has gone into ensuring Budget Forklifts is the right team for Cycling Australia’s High Performance Unit to partner with.
“Kevin Tabotta [Cycling Australia’s HPU Performance Director – ed.] and I have been working super hard behind the scenes researching and discussing with teams from World Tour, Pro Continental and Continental,” he explained.
“Budget Forklifts provides a professional environment for these five to work in. Even more impressive is the fact that they not only want to give them an opportunity to chase success on the road they want to work with Cycling Australia in its quest to win gold in Rio.
“We’re really proud of this partnership and can’t wait to get the 2015 season underway.”
Team Budget Forklifts Manager Cameron Watt pointed out that the team had its most successful year to date in 2014, winning three internationally-ranked UCI tours. These were Sam Witmitz’ success in the Tour of Taihu Lake, Joshua Prete’s victory in the Tour de Hokkaido and Michael Vink’s New Zealand Cycle Classic.
It also narrowly missed out on winning the National Road Series again.
Watt said that he considered it “really motivating” for the team to aim for bigger challenges, namely taking gold in Rio 2016.
With Bobridge on board, sharing his experience with the other riders, the chances of that have been improved.