Nine-time world champion Cameron Meyer has drawn the curtain on a remarkable career, announcing his retirement from professional racing earlier this week.
The 34-year-old from Midland Cycle Club in Western Australia took to Instagram on Monday, thanking friends, family, teammates, and coaches for their support over a 20-year career in the sport.
One of Australia’s best-performing all-round cyclists for more than a decade, Meyer leaves an indelible legacy in cycling that includes four Commonwealth Games gold medals on both the track and road, four Australian National Track Championships, and four Australian National Road Championships, in addition to the nine World Championship track gold medals.
Meyer revealed the decision to retire had been building over the last 12 months, during which time he underwent surgery for an aneurism in his hand, suffered head and facial injuries from a crash in April, with his father also passing away last September.
“It just all mounted up, where the body just isn’t quite responding like it used to and it took a little bit longer to get back into that top shape that is needed, and you can see that the sport is really shifting to that younger generation,” Meyer said.
“I was also just getting excited about doing other things, like seeing family members in a space where I’m not saying I have to go out and do a 5-hour training ride, and just looking to new challenges, because the only thing I’ve really known for the last 20 years is racing my bike.”
Meyer first represented Australia at the World Junior Track Championships in 2005 and claimed triple junior world titles in 2006, before turning pro in 2007 and winning his first senior World Championship in 2009 in the points race.
This started a glorious run of form, with Meyer claiming triple world titles and Commonwealth gold medals in the Madison, points race, and team pursuit in 2010, followed by World Championships in 2011 (Madison) and 2012 (points race).
Meyer then switched his focus to the road, competing in all three Grand Tours and claiming team time trial stage wins at the Tour de France (2013) and Giro d’Italia (2014).
He then complemented his Commonwealth track gold medals with a gold in the road time trial at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Reflecting on his professional racing career, Meyer said it was fantastic to have competed in the Grand Tours such as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, but revealed the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne stood out as a highlight.
“To experience a home World Championship in Australia, in front of family and friends, and to be able to win and pull on the rainbow jersey in front of a home crowd was definitely something special,” Meyer said.
“It was also one of those memorable races where I won it right inside the last couple of laps, which made it just a little bit more dramatic and exciting. I’ve had a lot of messages and people reminiscing about that race over since I made the announcement, which brings back good memories.”
Meyer also reflected fondly on the 2020 Road National Championships, an event his brother won in 2010 and something he had been striving to win for 12 years, and felt it was his ability to read a race and make the right decisions at the right time that made him a successful rider.
“I was a very process and analytical driven rider that made sure I was doing as much homework as I could going into a race, and then once I was in the race, I was going through my processes and that just enabled me to be able to read the race really well and make decisions,” Meyer said.
“I think that far outweighed my physical capabilities. I never had the strongest numbers in the field, and I was never the fastest sprinter, so I had to really use my racing brain and that was probably my biggest strength.”
Meyer also took pride in his ability to perform under the weight of expectation from peers and the media when going into an event, and acknowledged that the support networks of the Australian Cycling Team and the GreenEDGE (now Team BikeExchange-Jayco) professional team kept him going throughout his career.
The Western Australian also recognised the coaches that had had a huge impact on his career, from Gary Sutton at junior World Championships through to Matthew Gilmore and Tim Decker at the Beijing and Tokyo Olympics respectively, while also attributing his family for getting him involved in the sport.
“Probably a huge driving factor (for getting involved in cycling) was my father who at the time I didn’t know used to be a racer himself in Western Australia. But when he saw a free pass that I received to try track cycling, his eyes lit up, saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll take you down to cycling because I used to do it.’
“It was from there that my brother and I went and tried cycling and we were off, and we had the support of my dad and my family to just keep pursuing it, and eventually we were off in a couple of years' time to our first Australia National Championship as a junior. And I just loved it ever since.”
Meyer is the only Australian male to have won all three elite road national championships, and believes the drive of wanting to feel the emotions of winning a bike race motivated him to perform at such a high level over an extended period.
“I guess I wanted to do that at the highest level, and whether that was on track or road, there was always a new goal, to try and either defend a title or win something new. Yes, I really enjoyed that, to strive for that emotion of winning,” he said.
Meyer conceded he will miss the thrill and excitement of being on the start line of some of the biggest races in the world, but acknowledges how privileged he has been to perform at such a high standard for almost two decades, and is looking forward the challenge of coaching.
“I absolutely have loved working with younger riders, seeing them develop and trying to pass on as much knowledge as I can to see them achieve their goals and dreams … and I’ve been passionate about (coaching) for a fair while,” Meyer said.
Meyer has already mentored within the Australian track team and the GreenEdge road professional team, spending time with emerging riders Callum Scotson and Sam Jenner, and his message to any emerging riders trying to make their way in the sport is a simple one.
“I guess there’s nothing else you can really say besides hard work. It’s definitely not an easy sport, but it’s very rewarding at the same time,” Meyer said.
“You make friends for life all around the world or all across Australia. You get to see lots of places, and it’s just a unique sport that you’re able to get a lot out of. It is really rewarding, so if you put in the hard work, you get all that as a bonus.”