Michael Hepburn on Team Pursuit Gold

Thu 21 Feb 2013

Yesterday, Michael Hepburn won his third team pursuit world title. Not originally slated to be part of Australia’s team pursuit squad, at the World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, Hepburn was slotted into the team shortly after the Australian National Track Championships last month. Australia posted the fastest qualifying time before beating Great Britain for gold by a commanding four seconds later that night. In his own words, Michael reflects on his the new rainbow jersey before heading to the track to race the individual pursuit today.

Two weeks before Worlds, I spoke to our coach Ian McKenzie about the team pursuit. He was impressed with how the South Australian team pursuit team had performed at the Australian National Track Championships and thought that, with some extra horsepower, we’d be in for a shot at the gold here at Worlds. I put my hand up to ride. Ian allowed me to split my concentration in training between the team pursuit and the individual pursuit. I was happy to have the opportunity.

I’m the more experienced guy in the current line-up, so I’ve really had to step it up this year. I’ve shared all my experience with the other guys and from there we had to learn exactly how each of us rides. When I came out of juniors, I had guys like Jack Bobridge and Rohan Dennis showing me the way, so now that’s my job with the new guys. I’ve really enjoyed it – of course, it’s hard not to enjoy it when the end result is a rainbow jersey!

Going into the finals, we were quietly confident that we had more in the tank than Great Britain. The final wasn’t about time. It was about racing Great Britain and really using the adrenaline of the race to motivate us in the final kilometre. Ian had a good plan going into the race. Everyone had good legs and stuck to their jobs. Collectively, this produced a smooth ride to start things off at maybe a quicker pace than we had anticipated. Once we got the gear rolling, the boys just focused on maintaining top speed.

It’s not often that a rider gets the chance to race for a world title, and those rainbow jerseys don’t come easily – so of course we were pretty chuffed with the win! For me, it was especially satisfying to see a new group of guys step up and take on the best in Great Britain. Glenn O’Shea was on the team pursuit squad that was beaten last year and Alex Edmondson spent most of last year’s track season as our fifth man. I’m really happy for them to see the progress they’ve been able to make. Alex Morgan has come to us straight out of juniors – how good is that!

Really, it was just a great team effort out there. When it all goes to plan the way it did, it’s this special shared feeling that you don’t quite get with an individual win.

Speaking of individual wins, I’m now out to get mine. The individual pursuit is today, and I’ve worked hard to defend my rainbow jersey. Cheer me on! I might be far away in cold Belarus, but I can feel the support.