Jack Bobridge falls just short of hour record in Australia
MELBOURNE — Just two days after finishing second in the team pursuit at Australian track nationals here, subbing for Budget Forklifts teammate Scott Sunderland in the final, former world champion and 4000-meter individual pursuit world record holder Jack Bobridge was back on the velodrome Saturday, hoping to become the third man in four months to break the once-elusive hour record.
However, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist fell just short of the 51.852km set by Austrian Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) on October 30, which upended retired cyclist Jens Voigt’s record of 51.110km set on September 18, a day after his 43rd birthday.
“I take my hat off to Brändle, it’s amazing what he’s done,” said an exhausted but smiling Bobridge, slumping in the corridor surrounded by hordes of media after covering 51.3km.
“That’s just one hell of a record. This is the closest to death I will ever be, I think, before actually dying.
“It’s funny, I don’t know what else to do but smile … I can’t even describe how much pain my glutes and quads are in — it’s unbelievable.”
The 25-year-old said the attempt was “by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I think, and the hardest thing I will ever do.”
“At 20 minutes it sunk in what was happening and what was about to happen. At 20 minutes in there is nowhere to go … you have to keep going. It was just brutal the whole way.”
Bobridge, who has ridden for Garmin, Orica-GreenEdge and Belkin, signed with the Australian Continental team Budget Forklifts alongside fellow team pursuit world champions Luke Davison, Glenn O’Shea and Mitchell Mulhern in order to split time between the road and track and better concentrate on preparations for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Sunderland will join them in an effort to stack the deck for the upcoming Australian National Road Series, dominated by the Avanti Racing team for the past five seasons.
“I guess for the IP world record I wasn’t going for it on the day — it just happened,” said Bobridge. “It was more of a shock. I think it’s definitely going to take some serious time to recover and I just hope to hell I’m good for worlds. …”
An Adelaide native who now lives in Perth, Bobridge won the first stage at the Santos Tour Down Under last week while riding for UniSA and spent two days in the ochre leader’s jersey.
His hour-record attempt made him the second fastest rider in the modern era and the fastest Australian ever, surpassing Olympian Bradley McGee, who rode 50.052km in 1997.
However, he may not hold that distinction for long — former teammate-turned-rival Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) will attempt to break Brändle’s record on February 8 at the velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland.
Dennis, 24, lifted the leader’s jersey from Bobridge with a thrilling victory over retiring teammate Cadel Evans in stage 3, en route to taking the overall general classification. He also finished 19.7 seconds ahead of Bobridge on January 8 as the two took second and third respectively behind Richie Porte (Sky) in the individual time trial at the Australian road national championships.
When asked if he had a message for Dennis post-race, Bobridge replied: “Don’t do it to yourself.”
As for track cycling coach Tim Decker’s claim that he may have another go at the hour record, Bobridge added: “That’s a big dream of his at the moment. I couldn’t think of anything worse.
“He’s going to have to do some serious convincing to make me line up to do it again.”
Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to Velo.