Olympic gold medalist Brett Lancaster returns to Shepparton after 20 years abroad

Olympic cycling gold medalist Brett Lancaster has moved back to Shepparton after retiring from his position as director of sport at Ineos Grenadiers — a British professional cycling team — this year.

After 12 years living in Girona, Spain, and eight years in Italy before that, Lancaster is back where his cycling journey began.

The 43-year-old said first and foremost he was looking forward to enjoying some down time.

“My job was quite demanding and it felt like it was 24 hours at times, your phone was always on and if you missed out for a couple of weeks, even for a holiday, you felt like you were behind,” Lancaster said.

“It was an intense job, it’s good to take a step back now, after 15 years pro I went straight into this job.

“To put my feet on the ground and come back to Shepparton, it’s been good to chill out and spend time with my family.”

Lancaster’s cycling journey began at Shepparton Cycling Club in 1993 when he was 14 and since then his achievement-laden career has taken him far and wide.

Lancaster first made his mark on the world stage at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he won gold in the team pursuit, before taking out gold at the world titles that same year.

It wasn’t long before Lancaster caught the eye of Australian Olympic selectors and joined the Olympic cycling team.

On hallowed ground: Brett Lancaster at Shepparton Cycling Club, standing on the velodrome he trained on many years ago. Photo by Megan Fisher

Lancaster made his Olympic debut on home soil in Sydney in 2000, going on to compete at another two Games — Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

Following the Sydney Olympics, Lancaster was part of a world record time in the 2002 world championships team pursuit.

But at Athens he scaled new heights with a world record-breaking team pursuit gold alongside teammates Graeme Brown, Bradley McGee and Luke Roberts.

Lancaster went on to ride in the Tour de France six times and, in 2013, won the team time trial alongside teammate Simon Gerrans, who donned the yellow leader’s jersey.

Outside of France Lancaster competed in various feature races including the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of California and the Tour of Slovenia.

Lancaster won the prologue of the Giro d’Italia in 2005 and wore the race leader’s pink jersey — or maglia rosa — for the first time for the Italian team Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo.

Lancaster was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2005 and was later inducted into Shepparton’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

After his retirement as a professional cyclist in 2015 Lancaster jumped on board as director of sport at Ineos Grenadiers, a position he held until his retirement last year.

Lancaster, who celebrated his 43rd birthday last week, said the decision to move his family back home was not an easy one, but it had come at the right time.

Looking forward: Brett Lancaster said he would be keen to help out at Shepparton Cycling club wherever he could. Photo by Megan Fisher

“My wife is from Shepparton as well, she and I went on this journey together years ago and now we’re on a journey back,” Lancaster said.

“It’s good (to be back), it was never meant to be that long in Europe, I finished my pro career and started at Ineos, one year and then another passed and all of a sudden we’ve been there for six years.

“My eldest daughter starts VCE next year, so we wanted to get back so she can find friends and some footing, and for my son Luca to fit into schooling, it was the right decision and it was either now or never.”

With a number of large-scale cycling events on the horizon, Lancaster said he would be willing to help out where he could locally and more broadly, but would not be rushing into any decisions.

“I never want to come in and tell people what to do or how to do it,” Lancaster said.

“I’ll offer whatever I can do in good time, obviously I’ve got my family who I’ve been away from all year, I’m really just enjoying this time at the moment.”

The flats of Shepparton are a far cry from the climbs of Spain, Lancaster said, but nevertheless, being back on his home track at Shepparton velodrome always stirs up special emotions.

“I started down here for a training session on a Wednesday night, those hot summer nights, it’s not like that now, but when that comes back it’s a special feeling,” he said.

“This place is what helped create me and who I am today, as an athlete, as an adult, it is always special to be back.

“And to see my boy riding out there now — at whatever level he might get to, I don’t mind — it has a special place in my heart and makes me feel pretty damn good.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button