Ride to win or ride to lose? As far as Jack Bobridge is concerned there is only one way, writes Anthony Tan from Adelaide.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:39 PM

Six days separate the end of the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under and Jack Bobridge's Hour Record attempt on January 31, slated for the final night of the Australian track championships, at the DISC Velodrome in Melbourne.

Under normal circumstances, just under a week's recovery would be more than enough before a red hot go at breaking Matthias Brandle's mark of 51.852 kilometres, achieved last October when he bettered the 51.115km distance set by Jens Voigt the month previous.

And, under normal circumstances, the Tour Down Under would be perfect preparation, says Victorian Institute of Sport head coach Dave Sanders.

As the perennial sport director of the UniSA team at the TDU, Sanders is mentoring Bobridge and six other young Australians this week, who find themselves up against 17 of the world's best teams. "He came in here to give himself quite a hard week," he told me the afternoon Bobridge donned the ochre jersey in Campbeltown, the 25-year-old South Australian the best out of a successful four-man breakaway on the 133km opening road stage.

"He didn't want to come out of it in a big hole. We said to him, 'At the start of the week, open it up and just see what's happening (with your body)'.

"(But) the point is, we came here to race the Tour Down Under, and if you're not prepared to give (your) all, you shouldn't be here, because there's other guys who would.

"He (Bobridge) said: 'Don't worry, I'll be putting it on the line'."

Bobridge didn't just put it on line Tuesday - he put himself first across the line.

But he's now faced with a conundrum.

Ride to win the Tour Down Under (out of five participations, his best GC result was 49th last year), and perhaps compromise his chances of setting the best possible Hour Record mark. Or, now that he's won a stage, ride hard for another day or two to honour the ochre, then keep his powder dry for the rest of the week.

"That's the big question," he told Cycling Central TV host Mike Tomalaris, who asked the question in Tuesday's post-stage media scrum.


"I came here to finalise my Hour Record preparation - not to try and destroy it. But when you have a chance like that today, you can't take this away from anything.

"I'm sure I'll be right (for the Hour Record)," said Bobridge. "It's (only) one day."

"He's got a full week's recovery, which should be enough. Three or four days of recovery, then a little bit of intensity to open him up after the tour... he'll be right," Sanders assured me, who also alluded to Bobridge's mindset after contesting the team pursuit in Rio.

"He's still young, he can go back to the WorldTour."

That's his intention?

"I think so. I spoke to him about it this morning. He's just playing it one year at a time."

For now, though, Jumping Jack Bobo is playing it one day at a time - but with a view to posting his best-ever overall result at Australia's premier bike race. Whether best-ever means a win, somewhere else on the podium, or nowhere at all, only time will tell.

"Wearing the ochre jersey changes a lot of things," conceded Bobridge, "so I'm going to have to knuckle down and have a go (at contesting the overall). (I'll give) 110 percent to hold the ochre jersey.

"If I'm tired (by the end), I'm tired - but you can never take this result (from today) away."

The Hour Record can wait. The TDU cannot. Go, Jack, go!