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He’s the world champion for the individual pursuit and a rider who has become an integral part of the track racing scene in Australia. Jordan Kerby is also a nice bloke who has the world record in his sights…
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RIDE: It’s the morning of the national track championships which kick off in Brisbane and I’m talking with the individual pursuit world champion, Jordan Kerby. How’s it going?
Jordan Kerby: “Hey Rob, it’s going good. Yeah, it’s good to be up here at home to race the nationals championships this week with a home crowd and everything. I’m really looking forward to it kicking off today.”
Tell me about the track. I don’t want to jinx you but I’ve got a good feeling that there could be a world-class time. Do you think it might be world record time?
“Aaah… put it this way: I’m going to go as close to my time in Hong Kong (4:12.172) as possible tomorrow.
“We’ve had some really good conditions up here over the last four or five days where it has been a pretty quick track. But, of course, Mother Nature has decided to cool things down a bit today and tomorrow so we’ve only got temps of about max, 23 degrees.
“I think for me to break it, it’d have to be very, very quick conditions but I’m going to go out there and go as fast as I physically can anyway and see where that puts me.
“I’m in good shape. I’ve come off a good road block, racing the New Zealand Cycle Classic just over a week ago – so I’ve got some good loading there. And over Christmas I got some good work done as well.
“So yeah… all guns blazing for tomorrow and just fingers crossed I can go as fast as I can.”
We’ve spoken a little bit since Hong Kong… it’s because you’ve been posting extraordinary times. You did a great ride at the worlds to win the title; you did the third-fastest individual pursuit time ever in qualifying over there, and then you were setting a standard at the Oceanias at the end of last year. Does it feel like the individual pursuit has regained some of its glory because of the times you’re posting?
“Yeah… Kelland O’Brien said to me, after the worlds, ‘Oh, you’ve changed the game now mate. I think people are going to start going really fast again.’ And they are.
“There’s been another 4:12 a few weeks ago by a British guy, Charlie Tanfield (at the World Cup in Minsk) which is bloody impressive! He’s going really, really fast that guy. He must have a lot of talent and a lot of horse-power.
“I think, in a way, it has changed the game a little bit because guys are starting to go really quick now. It’s not uncommon to see something like a 4:14 or quicker. A few years ago anything under a 4:17 was ‘lightning fast’. So, yeah – everyone seems to be going quicker now.”
Are the times that you’re posting likely to get faster if it does get warmer?
“If the conditions are good – and we’ll see if they are tomorrow (for the individual pursuit qualifying and finals) – I do think I can beat my Hong Kong time. It’s just that 4:10.534 (Jack Bobridge’s world record) is so incredibly fast that I’m not going to say I’m going to beat it, because there’s a reason it has been a world record… and no one has gone really super-close. Like, 1.5 seconds – or 1.6 seconds – is the closest anyone has been since then but 1.6 seconds is a long time over four kilometres.
“You’re searching for half a second over 12 months… so any little improvement, I’ll be happy with considering that the main focus has been the teams pursuit.”
After the Oceanias we spoke and you said you were still experimenting a little bit with your position. Have you doctored anything since then?
“No, not really. Things are pretty much the same. It’s just about stable in your aero position and trying not to wiggle around or bob the head or anything when you’re under that amount of pressure – where you can hardly see straight and there’s lactate throughout your hold body, essentially.
“It’s more just about trying to hold that position as well as I can while staying under that red line as well, which I’m not great at. I’ll try and ride a good line as well.”
If the time doesn’t fall this week, we should still stay tuned to what’s yet to come at the Commonwealth Games. That’s a program that allows you to perhaps ride both teams pursuit and individual pursuit. Before we talk about the Commonwealth Games, are you disappointed not to be able to defend your world title?
“Ah, a little bit disappointed not to be able to defend the world title. You know, it’s a nice thing. However, I think for the HPU athletes it is a little bit too close to the Commonwealth Games for us to travel all the way to Europe in cold conditions, taper a week out, do a world-class performance, adjust to the time zone… and, essentially when you’re over there you’re detraining because you’re tapering into an event and trying to peak for it.
“On the other side of that, we have to fly back and adjust to our time zone again and heat conditions again and then, bang! You’re four weeks out from the Games.
“It doesn’t leave you with a great deal of time.
“So, while I would like to go and defend my rainbow jersey, I’m trying to put things in perspective and look at the bigger picture which is the Comm Games.
“And then, if I want to go and win another rainbow jersey, I can always have another crack in 2019.”
I think that’s very diplomatically put but it also makes sense for someone who is from Brisbane and who can perform in front of a home crowd… and, had the Comm Games not been in Australia, I’d say that Apeldorn would have been the focus.
“Yeah, for sure. And, that being said, for me as well, the sole reason I stepped back on the track bike was to compete in Brisbane in April 2018 at the Commonwealth Games in front of my home crowd. That’s been the main focus since I’ve thrown my leg back over.
“So, at the moment for me, it’s one goal, one vision – and that’s that.
“Still, we’re not 100 percent sure who is going and who is not going but I’d love to be there, obviously; I think I’ve put some good performances on the board and so, fingers crossed for April for me. And if I want to have another go at a rainbow jersey, I can train up next year when the worlds will be in Poland so it’ll be another big trip over there if that’s the case.”
I’m glad we caught you before the team pursuit today and the individual pursuit tomorrow. I wish you all the best. I hope things go well. And I think you know that RIDE Media pays attention to what’s going on on the track.
“Yep. Absolutely, we sure do. Thank you for getting in touch.”
– Interview by Rob Arnold