Geoff Stoker "A couple more steps on the road to recovery"

28 Mar 2017

If you all remember 2015 I finished Worlds in Manchester and had a back injury. This ended up being serious and getting pushed off the flight home in a wheelchair. No surgery just everything else you could imagine to get back close to where I was. So if I get on the podium it is because of the help of a team of people physio, massage, awesome help with my training program and my training buddies.

We did get some extra speed from Vittoria with some new even speedier tyres, Mavic with some new faster wheels to put the tyres on. Aerodynamic improvements from Kask helmets and Sheppards helped tie all this together.

I only raced once in 2016 that was at Worlds and finished 2nd in the Time Trial and Sprint and was lucky enough to be part of the World Champion Team Sprint team.

The rider who won all of the titles in 2016 was Gary Mandy who lives just south of Sydney. So this year I have the challenge and honour of racing the World Champion and World record holder in every race I compete in.

State titles as I said were a couple of weeks ago and being close to National Champs I hadn’t done any tapering.  Bit interesting lining up to race the World Champion feeling still a bit tired from the training load. Time Trial was the first event having no seeding from last year I started 3rd last heat and recorded a good time 35 seconds flat for the 500m. Gary Mandy started in the last heat I watched with anticipation he looked pretty good and coming into the finish straight I was watching the clock. I thought this was going to be close but wow. I won by 1 hundredth of a second (0.01sec). I thought it was going to be close but wow. More work needed for me.

The sprint was good. First round is always a qualifier to get the riders seeded. I started second from the end and not really knowing how fast I was going to be because of the lack of training taper. The conditions were warm and it felt pretty good in the Olympic Velodrome in Sydney I clocked 11.014 seconds for the 200m which seeded me number one and set a new Australian record just missing the World record by .09sec. A bit frustrating getting so close to the Worlds record which was set at altitude in Colorado Springs. I guess it is still good to clock the fastest time ever recorded at sea level and be seeded number one in front of the reigning World Champion. Gary and I both worked through the rounds to meet in the final. I had to keep reminding myself how much work we have done since last year when Gary beat me in Manchester to win Worlds. Sprint finals are always best of three heats just in case you didn’t know. I felt good and tactically rode well to win in two straight heats.

Two weeks later National Championships are in Sydney this year with the Time Trial and Team Sprint being on the first day. Funny situation riding a Team Sprint with Gary Mandy my main rival in my team. We lined up joint favourites and qualified fastest in the first round by only three hundredths of a second (0.03sec) no room for mistakes in the final. I was lucky my team Gary (World Champ) Michael Smith (World Champ) and me so we all knew what had to be done.

Final and we got off the mark clean and fast Gary was just a touch slower than the other team for the first lap and the change was good. I pulled the gap back to just about nothing after the second lap and another good change to get Michael to finish the job. In the team sprint riding second I get the luxury of watching the finish, Michael looked fast and smooth but it was still tight. Checking the clock as he came up the straight. Nice we won it by three tenths of a second (0.3sec) over a really strong team containing a couple of World Champs.

Time Trial was next with a quick change of gears and handlebars, I just didn’t know after riding the team sprint what the effects would be. This time I lined in the last heat with Gary Mandy on the other side of the track. A 500m time trial you don’t have any time to recover from mistakes, I made a couple and ended up second to Gary.

Fortunately I had a days break before the sprint. I felt good we had tapered so I wasn’t feeling tired. On race day the conditions that affect speed were a little different to States with the temperature 10 degrees lower and the air pressure higher, I was just going to give it everything anyway. Again not seeded so I was not last rider it all went well recording 11.08seconds for the 200m. I got to watch Gary qualify and he went slightly quicker (0.02sec) through the first 100m then he dropped off just a bit in the last 100m to record 11.11seconds  three hundredths (0.03sec) slower than me. I knew we both should make it through to the finals and sure enough a few hours later there we were lining up for the national title.

Race one Gary took the lead early on I sat back and slightly higher coming into the back straight 375m to go, I jump past him to take the lead. It was basically on from there. To ensure the win from the jump 375m out you need to keep increasing the speed to make it super hard for your opponent to get past. Job done and round one to me.
Short break and we line up for round two. Gary leads again and I got some height sitting back about 10 metres. Coming up to 500m to go I slipped under Gary and took the lead. He responded straight away and jumped super hard and got past me to take the lead with us sprinting at about 65kph. I had a quick change of strategy now having to get past in the last lap. I gave just a bit of distance and accelerated as hard as I could to level up along side through turn three. He was giving it everything and was holding me wide around the bend but I just kept coming. The fight continued up the finish straight in the last few metres I moved just millimetres in front and won the title.

It was a nice feeling to be on the top step of the podium so thanks to everyone for their help.



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