Almanac Cycling: World Championship Men’s Team Pursuit take it to Team GB

Callum Scotson, Alex Porter, Luke Davison, Sam Welsford, Miles Scotson, Michael Hepburn

Callum Scotson, Alex Porter, Luke Davison, Sam Welsford, Miles Scotson, Michael Hepburn

In one of the all time great Team Pursuit Finals and worthy of a World Championship, the Australian Men’s team cracked Team GB in the final laps to win the World Championships and regain the Rainbow Jerseys.

Riding the 2nd fastest 4,000m team pursuit race of all time, the young Australian squad executed the game plan and overcame a boisterous and parochial London Crowd cheering Sir Brad Wiggins and his team.

This was one of the best Team Pursuit Finals, with very little between the two teams during qualifications and in today’s final.

The aussies flew from the start, led by Callum Scotson at first wheel, taking a solid lead into the first 1,000 metres, Team GB fought back in the 3rd 1,000 with Wiggins taking huge laps to recover the margin and edge slightly ahead, with the aussies then returning the favour.

The final 250 metres had the aussies drawing back until Team GB cracked and lost their second rider. With three riders having to finish and the time posted when all three riders cross the line, the winning margin was slightly exaggerated to 1.1 sec.

With Team GB cyclist Ed Clancy, their best TP rider, returning from injury, there is room for improvement in their squad, however the Australian team rode the final with Michael Hepburn returning to the track only 3 months ago, Sam Welsford and Callum Scotson riding in the Elite World Championships for the first time after previously competing in the World Juniors and Miles Scotson the only rider from the previous World Champion team in 2014.

The World Championship win is an extraordinary result for this young squad. The objective for Coach Tim Decker and Cycling Australia has been to develop a depth of endurance cyclists capable of challenging at the Rio Olympics and into the next Olympic cycle.

With a potential current squad of 8-9 cyclists capable of riding at Rio, the task begins to find the final four spots for the coveted Olympic selection.

Leaving Jack Bobridge and Alex Edmondson from the World Champ squad to further their training on the Road, the selection by Tim Decker to take six riders for the Team Pursuit was a challenge for his young squad, to see who can deliver when it counts for Rio Olympic selection.

I spoke with the Australian Coach Tim Decker during the final training camp in Adelaide last month and he was very succinct in what his objectives for this team are;

“We are not sure of our best squad yet, we are getting closer to be able to name that but we are leaving it pretty open for the rest of the world to guess.”

“It’s certainly exciting because going to the Worlds we’ve got a challenge, on the list of aims that I had when I started the job, 2016 was not about winning the worlds but mounting a challenge and taking a group to be competitive in the top three, I reckon with what we’ve developed there is no reason why we can’t push to win or be top two with a group that we are taking. Given that the ultimate goal is to win at Rio that is the biggest priority in 2016.”

“My definition of success is to build a group that I know can be competitive at the highest level. Building a base and building layers of talent, we are a layer under the pinnacle and the pinnacle has to come together at Rio. We’ve put the steps in place and they are slowly coming together and this is the year they need to come together.”

“We know Team GB will come out all guns blazing we know there will be a parochial crowd, from my point of view it is about controlling our outcomes, what we want to happen. There is pressure on these guys to perform but if they perform and don’t win, it’s not a bad thing. If they get everything they can control at 100% and they don’t win on the day, well it’s not such a bad thing because remember it’s the World Championships and in the moment we are in a phase of making sure we are doing 100% and in control 100% to get our outcome and not focusing on what everyone else is doing.”

The first thought that jumps into most pundits minds is that the Australians haven’t fielded their best squad and yet still can produce a winning time, beating the world’s best, does this become a psychological advantage over your competitor’s?

“When we’ve had these discussions around Alex and Jack not being at the worlds and giving these younger guys the real opportunity to see who can stand up under pressure in the UK in front of a really loud parochial crowd, a possibility that we could be racing the UK in the semi final or possibly a final, that’s where we are going to find one of our small wins. It mightn’t be about the gold medal but it will be about one of those small wins along the way.”

“One of the other things that could happen is that one or two of these athletes really stand up and put their hand in the final Olympic squad and that’s what we are also looking for.”

Tim Decker addresses team before Final

Tim Decker addresses team before Final

Michael Hepburn, returning to win his sixth Rainbow Jersey was upbeat after the winning ride, “Never did we fault in the qualifying rounds, we just stuck to our plan, executed our plan and rode the times that we wanted to ride coming into the final, where they probably laid it down a bit more,” Hepburn explained.

“They’re a great team GB, Wiggins showed that he’s stepping back onto the track with ease, and they’ve got some other strong guys, but I think what really got us across the line tonight was six solid guys, no superheroes, just a good solid team working together and getting the best out of each other.”

“The boys were super hungry tonight and I just told them before we went out we were on the verge of doing something magical and they just didn’t let the pressure or anything get to them.”

Coach Tim Decker would be greatly satisfied at not just the result but that it was a consistent effort achieved with six riders over the three races executing the game plan.

In qualifying, Australia was 2nd fastest behind Team GB with Michael Hepburn, Sam Welsford, Alex Porter and Miles Scotson riding.

In Round 1 the Australians defeated defending World Champions NZ, Michael Hepburn and Sam Welsford were joined by Callum Scotson and Luke Davison in a time of 3:54.029 running away from a fading New Zealand (4:00.280).

The Final, The Ashes on Boards, saw Michael Hepburn, Sam Welsford, Miles Scotson and Callum Scotson take it out in a time of 3:52.727 defeating Team GB 3:53.856 with Denmark winning the Bronze 3:55.936.

The challenge now is for Tim Decker to decide who he leaves out of this formidable squad, because you could easily race two competitive teams from the endurance squad, unfortunately there can only be one team and four riders.

Who will it be?

 

In the words of Molly, do yourself a favour and watch one of the great Team Pursuit races at YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kgWXLZlNO0

 

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. Dave,
    A bit if gamesmanship happening all round maybe?
    Cheers

  2. Dave
    I agree. This was a wonderful race.
    Absolutely thrilling, and a brilliant finish by the Aussies.
    I thought the commentary was a touch underwhelming, though.
    Cheers
    Smokie

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