Jack is back! Mr Bobridge has been recruited by Trek Factory Racing for the 2016 season. He is one of Australian cycling’s youngest Olympians, a former national road race champion, a former under-23 TT world champion, a multiple track cycling world champion, and a rider with enormous potential… but his career proper was often interrupted. But he’s a born racer and is determined to make a go of the talent he obviously has. He married former cyclist Josie Tomic and the couple have a one-year-old daughter, Amelie, and the two special women in his life have tamed the rogue in the past year. And now he’s been given another chance to join cycling’s top-tier by the US-registered team sponsored by a bike company.
“We’ve been working out the details for a couple of months now,” Bobridge told RIDE early in August when asked if he had any news on a team for next year. “Things are looking promising but I wouldn’t like to jinx it by speaking too soon.”
His manager, Baden Cooke, confirmed earlier this year that there had been interest in Bobridge from a number of WorldTour teams but the key was to find the right fit for a rider with enormous capabilities both on the road and the track.
Bobridge had just turned 19 when he was part of the team pursuit squad that finished fourth in the 2008 Olympic Games. He’d improve on that result four years later when the Australian team – Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn and Glenn O’Shea – won the silver medal in London, beaten by the British team that rode the fastest 4,000m in history that day (3:51.659 vs 3:54.581 in the gold medal ride).
He’s been the Australian champion on the road as a junior (2007), under-23 (2009) and elite rider (2011), winning time trials and road races.
Trek Factory Racing will be his fourth WorldTour team but it comes after a season as an NRS rider with the support of the Australian Budget Forklifts outfit that has nurtured his ambition to return to the Olympics for another shot at the team pursuit.
Bobridge owns the individual pursuit world record thanks to having beaten a time that was widely regarded as unbeatable; Chris Boardman’s time for the 4,000m event was set using a riding position that is now banned but it was significantly more aerodynamic than what is now deemed ‘legal’. Still, in ideal conditions a couple of years ago, Bobridge surpassed the mark set by the Brit and it seems unlikely that will be broken any time soon. (Bobridge’s time was 4:10.534).
The individual pursuit is no longer part of the Olympic program.
According to the company that sponsors his new team, the deal with Trek is good for business. “We pitch ourselves as a performance brand,” said a spokesman for Trek in Australia, Ian Callaghan. “Having elite athletes using our product serves us well from a product development perspective and it helps get the brand exposure to the right market.
“To have an athlete of Jack’s stature on the team for 2016 is something we’re very excited about.”
Trek is aware of Bobridge’s Olympic track aspirations but also knows that he’s still got many years ahead of him as a road cyclist. He’s still only 26.
“This deal with Trek,” Bobridge told RIDE moments after Trek Factory Racing announced his arrival to the team, “is a great chance for me to hit the reset button and get on with the next phase of my career.”
He’s excited about the prospect of what this new contract offers and is grateful that the team plans to support him with both his road and track aspirations.
“Obviously myself and my family still believe that I’ve got a few things to do on the WorldTour circuit and I can be better than I have been so we’re pretty excited to get back overseas and to race with Trek.”
– Rob Arnold