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High Roller: Down Under star Cameron Meyer set to start Liege-Bastogne-Liege

2011 Tour Down Under, stage 4. Cameron Meyer win
The break that worked: Meyer celebrates his Down Under stage win. Photo: Graham Watson | grahamwatson.com

Having recently come away from the World Track Championships with yet another rainbow jersey (Madison with Leigh Howard), a silver medal (points race) and a seventh place (scratch) young Aussie sensation Cameron Meyer is ready for the first race of his Euro road season, Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege. VeloNews caught up with him as he tries to build on his already amazing 2011.

For some time Meyer has had a distinct split track and road program, with the 2012 Olympic Games in London the end goal since before he turned pro.

Will the Games mark the end of his track career?

“Yeah, I mean, the Olympics is a big goal, and it’s only just around the corner. I think after then I do want to have a focus on the road and see where I can go by doing full road seasons. But you never know where things will end up in two years time; maybe I’ll still be riding the track too.”

Meyer is the current Australian time trial champion, but he doesn’t expect to race the road TT at London.

“When you’re part of one of the strongest track nations in the world and you have to try and ride 3.50 for the team pursuit gold medal, you have to focus on that, and riding the time trial a couple of days before isn’t the best idea.”

On signing with Garmin there was a provision that he (as well as brother Travis and fellow Aussie trackie Jack Bobridge) would continue a program aimed at London.

Yet with a blistering start to the road season (winning the overall at the Tour Down Under) has the program changed any?

“No, with Cycling Australia and Garmin we have an agreement, and we look to maximize my program on both the road and the track. I had a good start to the year with the Tour Down Under, and then the (track) world championships, and at the moment I’m balancing both road and track so that we try get the best out of both.”

Cameron’s younger brother Travis, has already dropped his track racing program, as he was finding himself off the mark all too often when it came to making the cut for the Aussie team pursuit team.

“Travis made the decision to focus on the road, and is aiming at the classic-type races, where he has a really good feel for things. So far it’s been really successful for him, and I think we’ll see some big steps made by him this year. We have very different programs now, but should do a couple of tours together later this year.”

2011 Track world championships. Howard and Meyer celebrates Madison win
Howard and Meyer celebrate their repeat Madison win at track worlds. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | cbgphoto.com

The time trial championships and TDU title came as a bit of a surprise for Meyer.

“I had a bit of a focus on the road nationals and the Tour Down Under, and wanted some good performances there; but I never dreamt of winning the race, (the TDU) especially as it’s renown as a sprinters race. But, I took the opportunity that arose on stage 4 and then defended the jersey. It showed that I did my training well in December, and should set me up well for the early season.” (Related: The break that worked; Cam Meyer takes the lead at TDU)

Now that the track worlds are over what follows?

“Straight after the worlds I flew Girona and started my road training. We’ve just finished a two-week altitude training camp at 2,300 meters in Sierra Nevada, southern Spain and all went very well.”

2011 Tour Down Under. Cameron Meyer
Meyer celebrates his TDU overall win.

Meyer’s first road race had been scheduled to be the Tour of Romandie, but the team annoucned this week that he would line up at Liege on Sunday. He expects to start the Giro next month, but doesn’t expect to race the Tour de France this year.

“Since the merger with Cervelo, the Tour team is very difficult to get into, and I think this year they will be very focused around Thor Hushovd and the green jersey.”

There have been big changes with the team this year, with the merger and then the rapid dismissal of team director Matt White, just hours after Meyer wrapped up his win at the Tour Down Under. White, an Australian, was an important factor in Meyer’s career.

“It’s disappointing what happened. But, that was a board decision on the team, and I’m sure they have reasons behind their decision. We just have to get along with the racing for the year.”

Meyer’s contract expires at the end of this year, and there is speculation that he would jump to the Australian GreenEdge team, set to launch in 2012. Meyer said it’s unlikely he would leave Garmin.

“The arrangement between Cycling Australia and Garmin works well and allows me to focus on my goals, so I’m happy where I am right now. I have a good road program at Garmin, and I just want to get on and race as well as I can and see where that takes me, I don’t know where 2012 will take me yet.”

Steve Thomas, a frequent contributor to VeloNews.com, is a Welshman living in Thailand. He’s been racing bikes for more than 30 years and has been contributing words and photos to cycling, travel and lifestyle publications for nearly 20 years.

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