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‘I just keep looking forward’: Q&A with Cameron Wurf

In-depth
2 Jun 2022
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From the Olympics to the WorldTour to riding Unbound this coming weekend, Cam Wurf really has done it all. No wonder Ineos Grenadiers wanted the veteran Aussie for their 2022 campaign 

Cyclist: How did you turn a successful rowing career into life on a bike? 

Cameron Wurf: I was an under-23 double scull world champion and I rowed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. I got injured and started using the bike to keep fit while I recuperated, and it turned out I was quite good.

I turned pro in 2008 but stopped in 2015; I’d done an economics and finance degree and the dream was to work on Wall Street.

Cyc: Working on Wall Street? But you’re now riding for Ineos Grenadiers. How did that move back to cycling happen?

CW: I was trying to get settled in America, find the right job, and I went back home to Tasmania for Christmas
in 2016.

Tassie is where Richie Porte is from, and I ended up going running and riding with him – I’d been doing triathlons for a bit of fun. Then Richie wins the Tour Down Under with BMC, and [Team Sky coach] Tim Kerrison’s there.

He says, ‘Gee you’re fit this year.’ I’ve known Tim for ages – he was a rowing coach back when I was doing that but figured I’d fallen off the face of the earth.

Now, Froomie’s in town, up on the Gold Coast, so Tim gives me a call and asks if I can do some riding with Froomie.

He reckoned I’d done such a good job with Richie I may as well go ride with Froomie for ten days. That kind of reignited my return to sport, if you like. I started training with the team more. That was 2017.

In 2018 I started riding a lot with Geraint Thomas, then in 2019 I started getting involved with Tao [Geoghegan Hart], and I went to Kona [the Ironman World Championships] and finished fifth.

But after that all my contracts were up with my technical partners, which by now were all being organised through Sky by Carsten Jeppersen [now Ineos Grenadiers’ head of technical partners and cycling relations].

So I spoke to Carsten about it and he rang Dave Brailsford. Dave said, ‘Bring him to the camp and we will have a think about what to do with him,’ so I ended up going to the team camp in late 2019.

Looking back I think it was less about ability and more an opportunity for Dave to see how I fitted in with the guys.

At the end of the camp Dave sat me down and said they were at full capacity but would I be interested in coming back?

I said I’d happily left cycling behind and was enjoying Ironman, but if they wanted to add a spot for a guy who is versatile, able to plug gaps in the team with no strict schedule but always available, I’d love to do that.

Cyc: So you signed in 2020, and now it’s literally a case of, ‘Cam, we need you, get here now’?

CW: One hundred per cent. The first time was January 2020, when Kiry [Vasil Kiryienka] had heart issues, so Tim got me on the line and asked me to go out to Australia for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

I guess I was pretty cocky thinking I could just show up to a WorldTour race at any time… I quickly found out the hard way that I hadn’t raced for seven years!

Since then it has been the Vuelta a España, the Classics, the Algarve – I’ve been all over the place. It’s often races I’ve never done before so that’s awesome.

It’s great to be able to contribute to the performance of the team and I genuinely believe they’re better off with me there. The guys don’t treat me in a special way because I do another sport. We’re there to do a good job and we crack on.

Cyc: You’re still competing in triathlon, having won four Ironmans and qualified for Kona. How will Ironman fit into your WorldTour schedule in 2022?

CW: Kona has been postponed for two years so there is a bit of backlog, and in theory I am going to have to qualify again.

They’ve added a world championship in May, but I can’t do that because I’ll need to be available for the Giro d’Italia and the end of the Classics, and then there’s the build-up for the Tour de France, so I can’t leave Europe.

But it’s pretty unlikely I’ll be needed for the Tour so I should be able to do one or two Ironmans over the summer if I need a couple of cracks at qualification.

I might be able to use my current qualification but I’ll just wait and see how it all pans out. Either way, Ineos have said that from the Tour of Britain to Il Lombardia time they won’t need me so I’ll get ready for Kona then.

Cyc: You’re now 38 years old. Do you ever feel like the old guy?

CW: I don’t really have a chance to think about my age as I’m surrounded by a bunch of young guys. Magnus Sheffield has stayed at my house here in Andorra, and we went off and raced together and now he’s got his own place here.

In fact he left one of his trophies at my house, and in my front yard I’ve also got a giant papier-mâché yellow duck that Tom Pidcock won at a cross race in Holland. Really it’s less about me being old and more about my experience.

It’s like, ‘The race is a bit out of control, we need someone strong on the front to ride with and we want to ride with Cameron.’

Every day I can’t quite believe the position I’m in, and I certainly don’t sit there and dwell on it. I just keep looking forward.

Thanks to Jane Hansom and the Professional Triathlete Organisation (protriathletes.org) for organising this interview

For an extended interview with Cameron Wurf, listen to episode 54 of the Cyclist Magazine Podcast on Apple/iTunes

Photography: Brian Hodes