Gong teen eyes spot at cycling world titles

The thought of flying to Glasgow for the junior world championships hadn't even crossed teenage Wollongong cyclist Bradley Heffernan's mind, until yesterday.

Now taking on the best international under 19 riders is firmly on his radar after finishing with gold in the omnium event at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney.

At 16, Heffernan has only just started taking on older and bigger rivals at the elite level.

But he showed the ability to match them, winning the time trial, 10-kilometre scratch race and fastest flying lap to claim the overall omnium crown.

Heffernan also picked up silver as part of the team pursuit and bronze in a drama-charged finish to the 7.5-kilometre scratch race.

Suddenly he is chasing a ticket to Scotland in August at the national selection titles in Sydney in two weeks time.

"He hadn't even looked at competing," father Kieran said.

"But after the [AYOF] gold, it was something we discussed after we got home.

"There were a lot of national selectors there, so I'm sure they would have noticed.

"It will all come down to the national titles; hopefully he can produce a similar performance in the team's pursuit as well as the omnium."

Bradley Heffernan has the junior world championships in Glasgow firmly in his sights. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Bradley Heffernan has the junior world championships in Glasgow firmly in his sights. Picture: ROBERT PEET

While the sprint events are a strength of Heffernan's, in winning the flying lap round of the multi-event omnium - comprising several cycling disciplines - he showed his versatility by edging out Callum Scotson by just 0.4 of a second in the time trial.

He was also in the top five in both the 15-kilometre pointscore and elimination race.

The bronze in the 7.5-kilometre scratch race came after two New Zealand riders crashed on the last lap, an incident Heffernan narrowly avoided to finish third.

Heffernan's 17-year-old sister Holly is also competing at the national titles in the sprint events.

At a time when the reputation of international road cycling has been trashed by the Lance Armstrong doping affair, Heffernan is the future of the sport, aiming at a career following in the footsteps of the likes of Robbie McEwan, Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans.

"Down the track we will look at moving more into road cycling," Kieran said.

"At the moment he is happy to stick with the track riding and going down the development pathways, possibly towards an AIS [Australian Institute of Sport] scholarship.

"But plenty of track riders get noticed and are developed into road cyclists and that is probably the future for him."


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