CAMERON Wurf is taking a step back in a bid to revive his cycling career.
As fellow Tasmanians Richie Porte, Nathan Earle and Campbell Flakemore prepare for a season on the WorldTour, Wurf has decided to take a year out from the sport’s elite circuit.
The Hobart 31-year-old yesterday claimed a bronze medal in the Oceania championships elite men’s time trial but said that after five years he had failed to find his niche in the competitive market.
‘‘I’ve been trying everything but haven’t got really good at anything,’’ Wurf told Cycling Central.
‘‘I don’t feel like I have been racing to the level I am capable of, and that’s wasting my time and the team’s time.
‘‘If I am continuing on in the sport, I want to be really good at something – or as good as I can possibly be at something – and focus on that. That’s my objective.
‘‘The last few years I’ve had glimpses of feeling like I can be quite competitive and ride with the better guys, and my results have shown that.
‘‘But unfortunately I have had a lot of periods where I have massively underperformed, where I haven’t been able to be consistent with my health, recover from races, or where I’ve trained too hard.
‘‘I know I’ve made a bucket-load of mistakes, and unfortunately I’ve felt in the last couple of years in the sport that I can’t get out of that routine. I haven’t had the chance to take a deep breath and see where I have been going wrong so that I can fix it.’’
Supported by his team, Cannondale, the former Olympic rower plans to base himself in Malibu, California, and try his hand at other disciplines including mountain bikes, triathlons, cyclo-cross and assorted bike adventures.
‘‘I’m really looking forward to it. It seems to be a good opportunity to freshen up a little bit and work on some areas where I feel like I have been lacking in my career.
‘‘Mountain biking will help my technical ability, and cross-training will help me with feeling a bit more athletic, as I don’t feel quite as good an athlete as I used to be when I came from rowing.
‘‘I have never done a mountain bike race in my life. I’ve done the odd triathlon – as a kid I was quite good. I can run quite well. A lot of the triathlon stuff is to give me the opportunity to spend some more time on the time trial bike.
‘‘That’s been an area where I used to be quite good but I have fallen away quite a lot in recent years, so I’m trying to get back on top of that.’’
After this weekend’s Oceania titles in Toowoomba, an event he won in 2007, Wurf is considering such adventurous propositions as next month’s Melbourne Ironman (3.8-kilometre swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run), and possibly even tackling Hubert Opperman’s 24-hour record with former rowing teammate Drew Ginn.
‘‘I’ve got to take the opportunities to do these things while I can, and who knows, maybe I’ll enjoy it and decide that maybe I want to do better at them one day.’’
He insists he has not given up on the WorldTour, where he has one piece of unfinished business.
‘‘When you’re growing up, the WorldTour is everything and you dream of being in the WorldTour. I’ve been there for five years and it’s been fantastic, but I’ve never ridden the Tour de France.
‘‘If I make it back to the WorldTour - which is certainly the plan and I have some really great people supporting me - I’ll come back a more consistent rider in whatever capacity that might be.
‘‘It might be helping with the sprints or being a domestique in the mountains or targeting the smaller races myself or doing the time trial, I’m not sure. But I guess if you aren’t riding the Tour, then it really doesn’t matter what team you are in.’’