Two of Australia’s world record team pursuit quartet will switch the fixed gear for the road bike this week, with Kelland O’Brien and Sam Welsford to suit up for the Australian Cycling Academy in the National Road Series.
The Australian Cycling Team members will reunite again for the Tours second event for men, the Campolina-Visit Victoria Tour of the Great South Coast, a five-day, six-stage Tour beginning in Mt Gambier on 15 August.
In April, O’Brien scorched the Anna Meares Velodrome with Alex Porter, Sam Welsford and Leigh Howard, with a time of 3mins 49.804secs in the gold medal ride at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, the first sub 3:50 time in history.
“I can't believe how fast time has gone since April! That day is probably the most memorable day of my career to date for sure,” said O’Brien, who revealed the quartet celebrated with a tattoo of the new mark. “The atmosphere in the velodrome day one of the Commonwealth Games was electric. During racing, I can never hear the crowd, but in that final, the crowd was so loud that it was all I could hear!”
The youngest cycling team member and one of the youngest gold medallists at the Commonwealth Games, O’Brien only turned 20 in May and has revelled growing in Tim Decker’s endurance program.
“My parents always treated me as an equal person and not a child, and from the moment I came into this program I was treated with the same respect and what comes with that is I an expected to operate at the professional level the older guys do,” he remarked.
“Being a part of Tim's program has been a dream come true for me. Not to say it hasn't been without its challenges, but I love the challenge, working in our group is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I couldn't be more proud to say I belong there!”
Since a break after the Games, O’Brien has mixed track and road, with two trips to Japan including a win and podium in two Madisons with Welsford at the Japan Track Cup in July.
“I had some time off relaxing after the Commonwealth Games, but I was very keen to get stuck into it again! It felt awesome to get back on the track bike and get a win with Sam in Japan, we had won that event in 2017, so it was a good feeling to go back and win it again.”
For the Campolina-Visit Victoria Tour of the Great South Coast, O’Brien will team with Welsford, fellow Australian Cycling Team member Cameron Scott – who took a stage win at the Tour of Qinghai Lake last month.
Following the NRS season, O’Brien has his sights set on the summer track season starting with the Oceania Championships in Adelaide in October, followed by the UCI World Cup Series and December Nationals in Melbourne.
“Summer track season is my favourite time of the year, and with even more racing on than usual I can't wait to get back to Adelaide with the team in preparation for that busy time of the year,” added O’Brien, who is now eyeing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Although sub 3:50 was a fantastic achievement, we as a team see that as a great result on the way to our ultimate goal.
“Next for the team is to regroup for the next two years leading up to Tokyo.”
The seventh edition of the Campolina-Visit Victoria Tour of the Great South Coast will start with a traditional morning criterium in Mount Gambier on Wednesday 15 August, with the Tour to end with a grand finale street race on Portland’s waterfront on Sunday 19 August.
Campolina-Visit Victoria Tour of the Great South Coast: Teams / Results