The 29-year-old, who with Callum Scotson won the London Six Day ahead of Mark Cavendish and Peter Kennaugh in October, will balance track pursuits with top-tier road racing in 2018.
Meyer marked a low-key campaign at the Australian omnium and Madison championships in Melbourne over the weekend, but it was understandable on the back of a victorious campaign across Europe and China that has further bolstered confidence.
“We had quite a bit of track racing over about four weeks or so with the London Six Day, World Cup, Gent Six Day, London Revolution, and then I finished off with a three-day [road] tour in China with the Continental Mitchelton-Scott team on the way home,” he said.
Meyer - the reigning national and world team pursuit and points race champion - has a renewed motivation in the sport that he was so disenchanted by in 2016 he walked away completely. The Australian then cited personal reasons for the shock move, which he has now further explained. When he turned professional with Garmin-Slipstream in 2009 Meyer was popularly hyped as the nation’s next Grand Tour contender. It was never realised and burned him most of all.
“I wanted to be a GC rider and there was a lot of talk that I’d be a GC rider, there was a lot of pressures in trying to win at the highest level in the WorldTour,” he said. “Even though I still think I can win in some capacity on the WorldTour it’s not to the same extremes that I did before and I’m content with that. The stress has been taken off the shoulders.”
Meyer has since actually gone full circle. He has signed a three-year deal with Orica-Scott, which will allow him to ease back into the WorldTour and one-week stage races while simultaneously pursuing gold medal ambitions in the Madison and team pursuit in the lead-up to and hopefully including Tokyo 2020.
“I just have a freer outlook on my cycling at the moment and feel like a more rounded person so it’s all going well,” he said.
“I had the two months without touching the bike and at that time it was definitely a hard decision but I wouldn’t take it back because it has opened my eyes to what makes me happy.
“For next year it’s about those smaller key stage races. Having had a year or two now without a Grand Tour I need to get back to those one-week stage races before I think I’m ready to handle a Grand Tour.”
While Meyer struggled with the hype that surrounded him previously, his pedigree still shines through.
“I would never have believed to see myself in the WorldTour again, and then also to step back onto the track and have success so quickly with world championship gold medals, I didn’t foresee that either,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a ride the last 12 months since coming back but I’m loving every bit of it - the dynamics of being on the track and road and having a flexible and different program.”
The Velon inspired Hammer Series and possibly the Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine is on his 2018 race schedule with Orica-Scott. Meyer dipped his toe back into the water with the outfit’s feeder team this year, finishing seventh overall at the Tour of Quanzhou Bay earlier this month, and so already has a working rapport with some of the neo-pros that will mark debuts with the squad in 2018.
“[It’s] quite a diverse program but one that includes smaller, key stage racing,” he said.
He also has a firm eye to amply preparing for and delivering in two events at Tokyo 2020, working under headline methods new high-performance boss Simon Jones is instituting.
“I see it as a 50/50 balance between the team pursuit and Madison. I’d love to go for two events in Tokyo and realistically they’re two events Australia is a really big chance of winning gold medals in,” he said.
Meyer and Scotson have proved a winning combination in the Madison, but selection for it and the team pursuit both stand to be tight as ever in what is a new-look and much younger elite men's squad. The former believes his return to the WorldTour will give him an edge in that selection race, and Olympic gold medal glory that has evaded Australia too often now.
“For me, I do believe you have to race at that [WorldTour] level to be competitive in the Madison come Tokyo. The guys that are going to be competitive in Tokyo - your Mark Cavendishs, your [Elia] Vivianis, your [Fernando] Gavirias - they race big road tours at the highest level, they have the strength to complete a 50km Madison. That’s been proven before and I don’t think it will change. I know I have to compete on the road at a high level to maintain that ability to compete in the Madison in Tokyo,” Meyer said.