Cameron Wurf making gains at Cannondale

Cameron Wurf in escape, Giro d'Italia 2013, stage one

Cameron Wurf laughs when asked about his affinity with Australian songstress Delta Goodrem.

"I used to watch Neighbours as a kid and thought she was quite attractive so I was always pretty keen to meet her," the Cannondale rider says.

The Olympic rower turned professional cyclist did so briefly at the 2004 Athens Games, way before his Italian ProTeam revealed he was a fan in a video launched prior to this year's Vuelta a Espana.

"Maybe I'll have to win the Tour to get her attention," the Aussie muses.

Wurf has no ambition to personally vie for the yellow jersey in 2014 although is hopeful of making his Tour de France debut after enjoying one of his most extensive road seasons yet finishing both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta this year.

"I want to try and tick that off as quickly as possible so I can start thinking about trying to achieve something there," he says.

The 30-year-old had set out to mimic dual green jersey champion Peter Sagan's race programme this year but as it eventuated mirrored more so that of Ivan Basso.

"Ivan is a bit of a mentor for me and he always said [do] the Giro and the Vuelta this year and that will set you up really well in the Tour next year," Wurf explains.

"I'm pretty sure my programme next year will be the opposite of what I did this year."

Structural change is afoot at Cannondale and Wurf has already started working with renowned German sports scientist Sebastian Weber, who has come on board. In terms of leadership, there doesn't appear to be any animosity between the team's two predominate stars Basso and Sagan. Wurf even entertains the idea of working for them both at the Tour.

"Ivan continues to lead the team because he's still the best option we have," Wurf says. "It's not that he's putting his foot down wanting to be the leader. He's also the kind of guy that's happy to work for another rider who has the better chance of getting the results.

"Certainly at the moment Peter is. Peter is the one that the team is built around, he gets the best support, which is natural, but Ivan doesn't have any problems with that.

"Having said that, [Basso's] probably more motivated than I've ever seen him. I think he's still got another big year in him, at least another big tour, and it could even be the Tour. The Tour could really suit him next year, especially working with Peter. It takes a bit of pressure off him. I think those two together could be a good combination."

Wurf figures he'll emulate Sagan's programme in 2014, minus the Classics. He's spent a bit of time with the Slovak prodigy throughout the off-season with both starting November's Noosa Criterium. 

"He was awesome. The best part about him is he loves trying anything – new experiences - nothing phases him. He loves being involved and he loved the opportunity to just be himself here in Australia without too many eyes on him, which he has in Europe," he says. 

Cannondale has clearly invested in and been rewarded by Wurf's consistent development and this year's experience should put him in further good stead.

"This year is probably the first I had that sort of schedule of being away traveling to a race, home for a couple of days, then going to another race and not being in my own routine," he says. "I struggled with everything being a little bit different in hotels and food and routines and didn't feel like I was doing the work to have myself ready for the big objectives.

"I can train very well. That probably comes from my rowing background. Off a big block of training I tend to always compete well in races. I found that particularly in Catalunya and then again in the Tour of Poland," Wurf continues.

"If I go to a race I want to race 100 per cent. Going to a race to simply prepare I struggle with a little. I prefer to be at home and train and go to the next one ready. Hopefully I can manage to do that and fit in with the team's plans."

Wurf is set to open the 2014 season, on the back of training, at the Tour Down Under where he may have a chance to pursue his own opportunities. 

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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, broadcaster and author of Pain & Privilege: Inside Le Tour. She follows the WorldTour circuit, working for British, Australian and US press, and has covered 10 Tours de France.