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In pursuit of Jack Bobridge — Can he take his track strength to road stardom?

Touching base with Garmin-Cervelo's track ace Jack Bobridge, who will return to pro road racing after this week's world track championships

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Editor’s note: Australian Jack Bobridge is one of the most promising up-and-comers in the sport. Many fans are not yet familiar with his career because he remains focused on the track, at least through the 2012 Olympics. As Bobridge is at the world track championships in Apeldoorn, Holland, this week, British journalist Steve Thomas checked in on his progress on the boards and the roads.

Bobridge after winning the team pursuit at track worlds Wednesday. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
Bobridge after winning the team pursuit at track worlds Wednesday. Photo: Casey B. Gibson

A few weeks back the 21-year-old South Australian rider Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Cervelo) made his biggest mark to date in the cycling history books when he knocked half a second off Chris Boardman’s individual world pursuit record, a record that had stood for almost 15 years.

Until the individual pursuit was controversially dropped from the Olympic Games cycling schedule it was very much considered the blue ribbon event of endurance track cycling, and was highly contested by many of the greatest riders in the history of the sport. Given its recent “nullified Olympic status” you could assume that it may of lost some of its impact, yet it clearly hasn’t lost its appeal as Bobridge demonstrated with his national championship win and record breaking time of 4.10.534.

When Boardman set his pursuit record Jack was just a young boy, although he did know the figures that had been chalked up all those years ago. “I did 4.14 last year, and had a lot better form this year so I knew I could maybe go faster. I’d put in a lot of preparation for the road nationals (where he won the road race title) and the Tour Down Under, and I came out of the races with good condition too. Going into the track nationals I had a good feeling I was going to go well, but I really couldn’t say I was going to ride a 4.10, that’s for sure. So, yeah, it was a big surprise for a morning session in Sydney, but at the same time I did it, and it’s been fantastic to take it (the record).”

Jack Bobridge wins
Team pursuit, world track championships – juniors
Team pursuit, world track championships – juniors
Team pursuit Australian national track championships
Madison, Australian National Track Championships
Team pursuit, Track World Cup, Los Angeles
U23 world time trial champion
National individual pursuit champion
U23 national road race Champion
U23 national time trial Champion
Individual pursuit, Oceania Championships
Team pursuit, Oceania Championships
U23 Rund um den Henninger
Men’s team pursuit, world track championships
Stage 5, Eneco Tour of the Benelux
Men’s individual pursuit, Commonwealth Games
Australian national road race championships
World record, individual pursuit
Men’s team pursuit, world track championships

One of the first people to congratulate him was Chris Boardman himself; “We exchanged a couple of emails, he took his time to really congratulate me. It was fantastic to see that he was happy for me and could really congratulate me for doing it.”

Along with Cameron Meyer, Bobridge is under a contract until the end of 2011 with the Garmin-Cervelo team, with a clause to include a track racing commitment with Cycling Australia until the 2012 London Olympics, where he hopes to compete in the team pursuit.”

The Australians clearly have a liking for “games” with the Commonwealth Games figuring highly on their list of priorities, and only being superseded by the Olympics. How does this fit with his personal philosophy given that he’s riding on a WorldTour road team, and clearly has bundles of road racing potential too?

“I look at it this way; last year was my first year pro, and at the moment I’m switching between the two (road and track) and still getting results in both, which is good for me. If I can continue like this until London and get my ultimate goal of gold in the team pursuit then I can turn my focus more to the road and see what I can get out of it by going full time.”

With a mixed bag of skills where does he see his future on the road? “It’s hard to say, I haven’t seen it all or been there full time yet. But I think the classics, possibly, but I’ll give it all a good go — the tours, classics, the lot, and try and see what I’m good at. But at this point in time I just love the classics and being able to ride one day as hard as I can, that’s the kind of racing I like. But we’ll see; if I could do a transformation like (Bradley) Wiggins and run fourth in the Tour, who knows, it shows that individual (pursuit) riders can do it.”

So far this year his single day road racing ability has already earned him the Australian national title, one of the toughest national titles to win. In taking the victory he also kept the champions jersey within the team, taking over from Travis Meyer. “We had a strong team, and were all pretty confident. I went away on my own for a full month and just trained. We do a lot of testing with Cycling Australia, so I knew my form was good, and it was just a matter of getting out there and seeing what I could do.”

From chatting with Bobridge it’s clear that he has a refreshing and laid back attitude to cycling, and he comes across as a normal guy who just loves to ride his bike. He was well marked in Australia from a young age, but came to the world’s attention when he earned the applause and praises of Lance Armstrong after breaking away with him in last year’s Tour Down Under.

“Anyone of his calibre could give you a wrap and you’d take it. It’s been absolutely fantastic for me; it was my first Tour Down Under, and it definitely boosted everything for me in cycling and got my name out there. But at the same time I just keep level headed and just keep chipping away at what I’m doing, and it seems to be rolling along.”

From the boards of the track world’s he’ll pick up the road again, following the same program as road and track team mate Cameron Meyer.

“I’ll go to Romandie and the Giro, where I’ll be trying to finish this year. Last year I was just there to do the first 12 stages, it was a big wake up call in my first year pro, tough.” One thing’s for sure; you can expect to se the name of Jack Bobridge around a whole lot more in the years to come, and maybe even sooner.