Topics:  cycling, michael hepburn, orica-greenedge

Hepburn road season on hold for track title defence

ROAD STALLED: Michael Hepburn is looking to defend the individual pursuit world champion’s jersey he won last year.
ROAD STALLED: Michael Hepburn is looking to defend the individual pursuit world champion’s jersey he won last year. Mark Dadswell

IPSWICH Cycling club's Olympic silver medallist Michael Hepburn has delayed his road racing season to try to retain his world championship track title.

Hepburn said a decision to remain on the track until this month's world championships helped him stay motivated over summer.

Hepburn has delayed the start to his European road season with Orica-GreenEDGE so he can defend his rainbow jersey in the 4km individual pursuit in Belarus.

Hepburn claimed the title in Melbourne last year.

He initially planned to follow two of his London Olympics teammates, Jack Bobridge and Rohan Dennis, in moving to the road full-time at the start of 2013.

But with the track world titles moved forward to February, he decided it would be an ideal way to launch him into his first full road season which starts in Belgium and Turkey and moves to the Tour of California in May.

"After the Olympics I thought I'd sit away from the track for a while," Hepburn said. "Then I started thinking when I had my road program planned out that the worlds would fit in quite well."

Last week the 21-year-old showed his track legs were still there when he won the 4km individual pursuit title at the national titles in Sydney.

Hepburn clocked 4mins 15secs, which he likened to his scorching 4:13 ride to win the world championship in Melbourne.

"I was surprised because the last few months has been about building a solid base on the road for the season to come," he said.

Hepburn chose not to ride the teams pursuit at the world championships, saying Australia has a "good young group of guys" ready to take the nation forward in track cycling's blue riband event.

"Essentially I was coming off no track training," Hepburn said

"With individual pursuit training, you can still focus on the road where, as with teams pursuit training in the past, it's always taken about a month to get back to that level because the training is so specific."

After the Belarus world titles, from February 20-24, Hepburn will open his road season in Belgium before heading to Turkey and riding the Tour of California in May.



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