Omnium world champion Glenn O’Shea is determined to honour the rainbow bands as Australia’s only male endurance rider competing at the UCI Track World Cup in Glasgow, which starts today.
The Olympic team pursuit silver medalist has had minimal downtime since competing in London with next year’s world titles at the forefront of his mind.
O’Shea has signed a one year contract for the An Post Sean Kelly squad ahead of next season but is focused on first defending his omnium title and having a hit-out in a new-look team pursuit squad at the February championships.
“I had two weeks off after the Olympics and started racing on the road. It suited me otherwise I’d take a month off and it would take me ages to get back into it,” O’Shea told Cycling Weekly from Glasgow.
The 23 year old will stay in Europe after the November 16-18 World Cup to compete at a handful of Six Day events including Ghent with Belgian race partner Iljo Keisse from next week.
The timing of the Glasgow World Cup is ideal for O’Shea and the opportunity to compete at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome that will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games is not lost him.
“I’ve come here concentrating on a few different things,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to try new things and see how it all goes.”
O’Shea will stick to endurance unlike Ed Clancy, part of the Great Britain team pursuit quartet that clocked a world record time to defeat Australia at the Olympics, who has shifted his focus to sprint events in Scotland.
“When you look at his background, he came from a sprinting background with the kilometre,” O’Shea said of the Olympic omnium bronze medalist. “Training for the team pursuit he can still ride a minute flat after four days of racing at the Olympics. I think there’s no doubt he’s got the ability to do it. He’s conquered the endurance side of the track so it’s a new challenge.”
O’Shea said Clancy’s decision to return to endurance events at the world championships, and possibly challenge him in the omnium, may depend on his performances in Glasgow.
The multi-discipline event will be the main goal for the Australian male track cyclist of the year at the world titles in Minsk, Belarus.
“There’s still a big focus on the team pursuit as Australia,” O’Shea said.
“At the moment the omnium and team pursuit are still the Olympic events so you’ve got to concentrate on them but hopefully I might get a bit more freedom to race a few other things.
“Depending on how it [World Cup calendar] all works out I wouldn’t mind having a crack at the Madison at worlds in the next couple of years; whether that’s this year or next year is dependant on different things.
“This worlds the main focus for me is the omnium – just try and defend the title – and I’ll probably try and ride the team pursuit as well.”
O’Shea does not anticipate that his Olympic team pursuit team-mates, including Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn and Rohan Dennis, will back in the velodrome in Minsk all having WorldTour road contracts. He named London reserve Alex Edmondson as well as Jack Cummings and Alex Morgan as potential candidates for the spots made available.
“It’s hard to speak for them but I’ll be surprised if all four of us are there in Rio [2016 Olympics] together,” O’Shea said.
“With some of their ability you could see Rohan or someone riding on the road at the Rio Olympics. They’re going to do the same as me, which is focus year by year and see how it goes. For the next two years we probably won’t see any of them doing much track at all.”
O’Shea will be able to embark on virtually a full road season with the An Post Sean Kelly team from March onwards given the track world titles are in February as opposed to April as was the case this year.
“I don’t think I’ve had a proper road season for about four or five years. It’ll be good to have a six-month period of trying to put together a proper season and focus on the events you need to,” he said.