Peloton Watch
  Sam Welsford enjoying challenge of racing at senior level  
  June 4th 2015  
  Dual Junior World Champion Sam Welsford has made a successful start in the senior ranks. Welsford's two junior world titles have come in the team pursuit but it is bunch races where Welsford really excels. A silver medallist in the omnium at Junior Worlds last year and on the podium in the Madison the previous year.

Moving from the junior to senior ranks is often a challenge for even the best of riders. Going from facing riders within a two-three year age range to suddenly facing people who could be 10 years older and with a decade of experience opens a new challenge. "It has been tough but I think the juniors that have moved up last year really like a fierce race and racing people that are stronger than us," said Welsford. "We prefer a harder race because we are used to that as juniors where it is always full gas.

"You come up to the seniors where is it just as hard but even more competitive. It's awesome," added Welsford who is relishing the challenge of racing some of the top riders in the world.

Just out of the junior ranks Welsford joined a young Australian team for the opening World Cup of the 2014/15 track season in Guadalajara. Not only did Welsford debut in the Green and Gold but claimed his first gold medal. "It was surreal going to my first World Cup and getting a gold medal with two World Champions Glenn O'Shea and Miles Scotson was pretty unreal."

In Qualifying Glenn O'Shea's experience helped the team to qualifying fastest but in round one and the final it was the 'Teenage Team Pursuit' squad. Junior World Champions Welsford, Dan Fitter and Alex Porter joined with senior World Champion Miles Scotson posted a time of three minutes and 55 second in both round one and the final to win gold. "We trained pretty hard and to go 3:55 was pretty awesome.

"We heard the average age of 18.5 and we were all amazed by that, as we didn't know. We looked back at that and thought wow that was a pretty big accomplishment when we are all 18 year olds."

To further his development Welsford was selected to ride the omnium at the final World Cup of the season in Cali. "I actually got pretty sick at the Cali World Cup for the omnium," revealed Welsford. "It was really competitive with so many guys that were so close to each other, the omnium was really though."

With the final World Cup finishing just ahead of the Australian Track Championships at the end of January those competing are often not at their best for nationals. "I wasn't on that great of form coming from the Cali World Cup," said Welsford.

Despite a field including the likes of Glenn O'Shea, Alex Edmondson, Miles Scotson and Scott Law, Welsford was in contention. "I surprised myself in the points race. I took a few laps with Glenn and a few others and one late lap in the end with Glenn and Miles and that jumped me to second and silver."

Proving his combination of speed and endurance even at 19 he can be contending with some of the best in the world. Welsford added a second silver medal to his tally on the final day of competition in the scratch race. "I was actually pretty stoked to get silver in that."

Just as important as the medals and results is the confidence younger riders can take from early success. "Yeah you can obviously take a bit of confidence," explained Welsford. "You can tell yourself you can do it and not be so scared that the big senior guys.

"They are quick and fast but you have to look at them as just any other opponent."

After racing and securing a number of top 10 finishes in early season NRS events on the road it was back to the boards for the International Track Series Adelaide last week. "I would have liked to be on the podium," said Welsford after a fourth place finish in the first omnium. "But I am here to collect UCI points for the World Cups and fourth has put me in a good place and I have a few points now."

From here Welsford heads to Europe for some racing with his Junior World Championship teammates from 2014 Dan Fitter, Callum Scotson and Alex Porter. The team will be racing some kermesses in Belgium for a month before heading to Italy for the Fiorenzuola track meet. "I'm looking forward that, I haven't been to Europe before so I'm going to learn how to ride over there."

After a month in Europe Welsford and the rest of the team head across to North America for a further camp with the rest of the Australian High Performance track team.
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