The reinstatement of Cameron Meyer into the Australian team pursuit line-up for the London Games is not just logical, but essential, writes Anthony Tan from the Track World Championships.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

It was only last October, at the 2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour, where I sat down at some length with Cameron Meyer to get a progress report on his Olympic ambitions, as well as balancing his development on the road as a bona fide stage race specialist.

There in Victoria, he told me in no uncertain terms that it was his unquenchable desire to be part of Australia's team pursuit line-up at the London Olympics, those Olympics just four months away now, and to regain the title they ceded to Great Britain at the Beijing Games.

"I'm actually the oldest in the team, the rest of the team is made up of Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn… it's a very young squad who haven't ridden so many Grand Tours, (and) never ridden the Tour de France before, so, I think for us, it will be more about (doing) the (training) camp (-style) races going into the Olympics, rather than riding a Grand Tour," he said.

Something, or someone, caused him to change his mind between then and now.

Instead, he chose to ride the points race and madison at this week's track world championships, the former he emphatically won Saturday night, the latter he intends to succeed with equal verve this evening, accompanied by madison partner and GreenEDGE team-mate, Leigh Howard.

But as he watched what the British press has dubbed the 'boy band' Wednesday night and saw them bow to the Poms once again as they broke their own world record set in Beijing, lowering the mark to 3 minutes 53.295 seconds, he got an itch inside of him.

"There was something in me that, when I was watching those team pursuit boys on Wednesday night, I would've loved to been out to there to try and help them beat the Brits," Meyer said.

Along with Jack Bobridge, the reigning individual pursuit world record holder (surprisingly beaten by Michael Hepburn on Saturday), I always regarded Meyer as one of the Trojans of the Aussie team pursuit line-up. Someone that ninety-nine times out of one hundred, you could rely upon to deliver his very best.

23 years young when I spoke to him at the Sun Tour (he turned 24 in January), he was nevertheless the 'elder statesman' within the quartet for want of a better term and was growing stronger by the year – most recently evidenced by his top-10 placing at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in Italy in March, where he missed out on the best young rider jersey by eight seconds to Vancansoleil-DCM's Wouter Poels.

For me, it was the first sign that Meyer may become a half-decent Grand Tour rider, but as he told me last October, there needs to be a few more signs yet. "I think I need to prove it to myself before I can prove it to the public first," he said.

"I need to go into races like the Tour of Romandie, Paris-Nice (and the) Tour of Suisse and do well on the general classification before I can look towards Grand Tours. And I'm still young and developing and I'm still riding the track, and there's still ambitions there, so I think, over the next couple of years, when I fully focus on the road, I'd like to experiment with GC-riding in those smaller tours and see where it takes me."

I know the notion of changing a quartet that rode a 3:53.401 last Wednesday may sound like utter folly, but at the end of the day, we lost. Something needs to change between now and London, because the way I see it, the British four are on a high and are only going to move faster still.

"We're going to have a discussion between the coaches and I, straight after these championships," said Meyer after bagging his third senior points race world title Saturday. "I've got a real focus on these two events (the points race and madison), and I can't think outside of that too much.

"I put my focus on the points score and madison for one last time, and I'm very happy that I did. That meant so much to me, (to win the points race) out there today. So, we'll sit down with the coaches after this, and discuss the plan from there on."

One last time. Remember that, Cycling Australia coaches and selectors, because post London, Cam will be bailing the boards with a view to a full-time career on the road. "I'd like to see where I can go in those one-week tours, and see whether I can develop into a general classification rider," Meyer told me of his future ambitions.

"That's ultimately where my capabilities lie, with the time trialing and being able to climb… I've definitely got to start with something smaller, and those one-week stage races are what I'll be looking (towards) after the Olympic year."

Okay, tiger, go grab your third madison crown tonight. But after that, jump straight back into team pursuit training. We need you, Cam. Pronto.

All those who say aye…

Twitter: @anthony_tan