Almanac Cycling: The Day Jack slayed the Mountain

Coach and TP Squad follow Jack's progress on Twitter

Coach and TP Squad follow Jack’s progress on Twitter

This weekend the Cycling Road Nationals were held in Mt Buninyong, outside Ballarat. There was the Criterium, the Time Trial and the Road Race.

I have been keeping an active interest in these championships due to a number of the endurance track riders being involved. With the demise of Team Budget Forklift, most of them were riding for new teams, including Jack Bobridge, now with Trek Segafredo.

Jack is a unique cyclist, he has the ability to be one of Australia’s all-time great cyclists, when everything is working for him.

Orica’s Team leader Matt White made reference to Jack being “a bit too unpredictable”. Perhaps with a past history Matt can make these claims, however the power of the athlete’s mind is a powerful force and you can never fully underestimate the distractions and the white noise it subsequently generates.

Jack signed a new 12 month deal with Trek, a year in which he also is targeting the Rio Olympics as a member of the Team Pursuit on the track. He must produce results for his new team in order for them to consider a subsequent contract.

His first outing in new colours at the Nationals saw Jack finish a disappointing tenth in the Time Trial, as he said “a bad day in the office”.

He had another chance, Sunday, in the Road Race.

Before the race I saw a photo of Jack surrounded by a few of the other senior statesman of cycling, Jack was looking relaxed. He didn’t have a team to ride for him and look after him in the climbs; he didn’t have a lead out rider if there were to be a sprint finish. There was just himself and the support vehicle from his South Australian Sports Institute.

Jack was there by himself.

By the end of the day Jack Bobridge would have ridden one of the best and most courageous Road Championships and would finish with his second National Road Title in a race that he rode out in front all by himself.

In a race over 183 km, 127 riders would start and 15 would finish.

This was a race of survival because Jack took it to them all. He broke away almost immediately from the peloton with a small group of riders and then he challenged this group with Bernard Sulzberger as companion. Frustrated at the slow pace, Jack took it to another gear and left the rest to chase him.

For over 90 km Jack went alone, leading the peloton by as much as nine minutes. The peloton probably thought Jack couldn’t keep this pace up, that he would eventually tire or blow up.

What they didn’t know was that nothing and nobody was going to take this race from Jack today. He would push hard up the mountain and while the peloton was riding hard up the slope, he would be slipping away on the descent extending his lead.

Jack posted a sub 15 minute lap with five laps to go, he was focused.

Finally the chasers started to come with a few laps remaining but the lead was too great and he had broken the peloton apart.

This is the Jack that can do it all.

I wished I was there to see it all, but I have a confession to make.

I was inside DISC (Darebin International Sports Centre) with Jack’s coach Tim Decker and the young squad of Team Pursuiters training for the Hong Kong World Cup next week. After every effort the riders would recover and fervently watch the Twitter feed of the #RoadNats, I was no exception. It became compelling to cheer Jack on from afar with the Twitter feed, could he do it, can they catch him. There were texts from others with requests to somehow get a message to Jack and remind him to take fluids and eat, keep his energy up.

With four laps to go, Tim finally called the support vehicle following Jack to check on his position, his status, how does he look and then confidently congratulated the support team with extreme confidence, they weren’t going to catch him, he would win.

The first time Jack Bobridge won the National Road Titles was in 2011, he would later that month ride the world’s fastest ever 4,000m Individual Pursuit at the Track Nationals. A 15 year record set by Chris Boardman on an outlawed bike that many felt would never be broken.

They don’t know Jack.

About David Parker

A keen observer of all things sport and a Swans tragic, David likes to dabble in sporting documentaries including the Max Bailey doco for Fox Footy. David is currently filming a documentary on the Australian Cycling Men's Team Pursuit squad as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Comments

  1. Thanks David, it was just an astonishing ride, wasn’t it? He could be anything over the next five years and hopefully he is.

  2. Cheers Dave, many in the Cycling community, including Cam Meyer have labelled it the best they have seen. I sense there are more special moments to come.

  3. David Conallin says

    great ride by Jack It will always be talked about whenever the National Titles come around, hope he continues

  4. Thanks Dave.
    What a performance – it should have received much more publicity than it did.
    It will be interesting to see where he goes from here.
    Interesting also that Cam Meyer, whom I consider to be an unfulfilled talent, finishing second for his new team.

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