Bobridge sets fastest ‘non-Superman’ time ever in individual pursuit
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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Bobridge sets fastest ‘non-Superman’ time ever in individual pursuit

by Conal Andrews at 6:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 

World under 23 time trial champion Jack Bobridge underlined his ability against the clock today when he scorched to a superb time of 4 minutes 14.427 in the individual pursuit at the Australian national championships.

This is the third fastest time in history, and the quickest-ever using a regular position. Only Chris Boardman has gone quicker, using the now-banned ‘Superman’ position to clock times of 4 minutes 11.114 seconds and 4 minutes 13.353 seconds in the finals and qualifiers at the 1996 world championships.

The UCI subsequently tightened up on the regulations to try to ensure that riders rode in a more standard, less aerodynamic way.

This had a considerable effect on slowing times. Bradley Wiggins set an Olympic record of 4 minutes 15.031 seconds en route to gold in Beijing, four seconds off Boardman’s mark.

Wiggins’ time was improved by fellow Briton Geraint Thomas in the World Cup in Manchester on October 30th 2009. He clocked 4 minutes 15.015 seconds, but Bobridge’s new mark takes a considerable six tenths of a second off that, and marks him out as the fastest of the current batch of riders. It also earned him his second-consecutive national title in the discipline.

"This year at the Tour Down Under, I held myself back a lot and came out here a lot fresher as I have shown that with my times I have produced here," said Bobridge afterwards. "Honestly I don't think I am 100% fit yet, still a little bit off, which is a good feeling for myself knowing I have 6-7 weeks until the World Championships in Copenhagen.

"Considering I have only done three sessions on the track leading into these Championships, I have come out today and surprised myself," continued the Garmin Transitions rider. "It has been perfect conditions for track cycling, so that's why you have seen so many fast times delivered here."

Like Bobridge, first year senior Rohan Dennis also beat Bradley McGee’s previous Australian record of 4 minutes 16.358 seconds, as set at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. He clocked 4 minutes 15.764 seconds, but was no match for his rival in the finals.

He started faster but Bobridge came back at him and eventually finished up with 4 minutes 16.313 seconds, over four seconds quicker.

Worlds and Olympics:

His scorching pace clearly sets him out as a favourite for this year’s track world championship. His main rivals there are likely to be Thomas and the hugely talented American rider Taylor Phinney, who is also seen as a potential winner.

He showed that he is relishing the challenge, commenting afterwards on Twitter: “Worlds are gonna be fast people... I'm stoked!”

This year’s championships will take place from March 24th to 28th in Copenhagen.

Previously the worlds would have been seen as secondary to the Olympic Games, but following the UCI’s controversial shakeup of the Olympic programme, the individual pursuit has been dropped. This led to a chorus of criticism, and the prospect of a Bobridge-Thomas-Phinney clash has once again turned the spotlight back on the subject.

Endurance track riders eying Olympic gold must now target the omnium, a collection of events that include the individual pursuit.

Bobridge is set to focus primarily on his road racing career in the years ahead. He rode his first event with Garmin Transitions in last month’s Santos Tour Down Under, and will have a full programme of racing this year. His turn of speed in the individual pursuit shows that he should be a valuable addition to the team’s time trial strengths, and also marks him out as a potential prologue and TT winner in stage races. 

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