To look at Alex on the bike now you wouldn’t know there had been a problem. He rode strong and confidently on the bike throughout the scratch race, and his patient tactical awareness saw him perfectly positioned to pounce on the final lap of the 15km race; and pounce he did. Opening his sprint he left the rest trailing in his wake, and by the time he was on the back straight the gold medal was practically decided. But his journey to becoming national champion came after a 2014 that could not be wished upon anybody.
“Last year was a pretty bad year for me. Injury-wise I had a really bad crash and spent half the season in and out of hospital. For about two months I couldn’t ride the bike just from an internal injury,” Alex explained to RoadCycling. “[My] crash caused 40% blood loss from internal bleeding and I didn’t know how I was going to get back into race shape. So this year I wanted to step back and focus on me physically and just get back into – hopefully – world class form; and then get back on the road after the Rio Games.”
By setting his sites on the Rio Olympics Alex joins the long list of riders looking to book their place on the endurance squad; only adding to the headache that the selectors will have, especially after Alex’s performances in Cambridge so far. His silver in the individual pursuit behind Dylan Kennett came after a very tense battle that saw the lead change hands several times. And his win in the scratch race came after playing a smart waiting game in the middle of a very fast 15km race. “I guess everyone was just a bit keen, everyone will chase whatever because the strongest 15 guys can all ride hard the whole way,” Alex said. “I was just banking on nothing sticking and it’s just a risk you’ve got to take if the only way you can probably win it is in a sprint; which is the only way I reckon I could have won.”
That said his condition on just four weeks work looks remarkably good. “It’d be pretty arrogant of me to say I’m not happy with how I’m going considering all these guys have been doing the World Cups and Commonwealth Games and all that stuff; and haven’t really stopped. I’ve put a decent amount of work in but I definitely feel like I can do more, but I’ve definitely got to be happy with what I’ve done and where I’m at now.”
Stay tuned for more from Alex and the riders at the Skoda Elite Track National Championships at the Avantidrome where the action continues tonight from 6.30pm, before finishing tomorrow.
By: Ed Wright