Robert Lyte, second from left, with team-mates Richard Lang, Dale Scarfe and Jackson-Leigh Rathbone, rides to the silver medal
Robert Lyte, second from left, with team-mates Richard Lang, Dale Scarfe and Jackson-Leigh Rathbone, rides to the silver medal

Making Lyte work for a bronze medal finish

By ADAM HICKS sport@northernstar.coom.au ON SATURDAY, cyclist Robert Lyte didn’t even know he was riding in the omnium at the Australian national track championships in Sydney. But after a late call-up, the former Pimlico rider overcame a limited preparation to claim bronze on the final day of competition.

“Originally I wasn’t going to be doing it; it’s not my event,” Lyte said.

Last week Lyte thought his championships were over after he steered NSW to silver in the team pursuit and finished seventh in the individual pursuit.

“I only found out yesterday and got myself back ready for it,” he said.

“I don’t know the full story why, but one rider pulled out and they decided I should do it.”

The omnium is a relatively new event that tests 10 riders in five widely varied events.

First up is the flying 200m. Lyte confesses he’s not a sprinter and was happy to finish seventh. But he quickly shot into contention by coming second in the second leg, the 15km scratch.

He won the individual pursuit, came second in the 15km pointscore and finished the event with a second place in the standing 1km to take bronze overall.

Despite the two medals, Lyte said he was unhappy with his individual pursuit time.

“The individual pursuit is a flat-out 4km race,” he said. “It’s not like a sprint but you average about 55km/h. The coach believes I can go far in the individual pursuit as long as I keep my focus on developing.

“I was hoping to qualify for the Olympics but my form has been a bit out. At my best I am about eight seconds out from the qualifying time.

“I have to go back to square one. I need to work on the very base elements such as my bottom line strength and general fitness.

“I’m definitely a big chance for London (2012 Olympic Games) but more importantly I really want to do a pursuit that’s quicker than 4m20s. Under that is a time that only a few people can do, a time only world-class cyclists can do.”

Lyte clocked 4m33s for his individual pursuit last week and, at 26 years old, time is still on his side.

“It’s a bit disappointing but I know that I can get there,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of when. I just have to keep working hard at it. You don’t get anywhere unless you work hard.

“People don’t usually peak until their 30s. Younger riders are never expected to go real well because you just don’t have the endurance or power.”

But it’s a different story in the team pursuit. “The team pursuit is always faster, you average about 58km/h, because you have four men and while one is driving at the front the others sit behind him (in the slipstream) and rest for their turn at the front, so you always have a fresh man driving.

“To get in the slipstream you have to stay within two inches of the wheel in front.” Lyte’s team claimed silver behind favourites Victoria.

“I had some health problems ... over-trained a bit towards the championships and my form was very tired. I wasn’t really snappy but regardless I still had a good ride,” he said.

Besides re-setting himself for the London dream, Lyte will also do some road racing this year.



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