Stephen Hall credits his continued success in international cycling to WA’s strong track racing scene – and the 28-year-old says his best years are ahead of him.
The Bibra Lake product recently proved his dominance on the track, winning his 28th State Championship and the Westral Wheel race.
He is fresh from a season in America with German outfit Maloja Pushbikers, where he won US track rider of the year for the second consecutive time.
In Australia for the recent Oceania championships and some WA events, the 2017 State road champion was picked up by the UCI track trade team this May, raced the Track World Cup in France and is part way through the six-day circuit.
He said joining the German squad represented his shift back to European racing after spending the last four years mainly in America.
“I went from Australia to Europe and spent 2012 and 2013 racing on the road in Europe so I’m familiar with it, but now I’m racing mainly track so it’s different again,” he said.
“The quality in Europe is even higher than in the US… at the same time without a doubt Australia is the hardest place to race on the track – we have the best riders, our concept of what is hard is right at the top.”
For Hall, competing in the six-day races, which attract the likes of pro tour riders Mark Cavendish, Elia Viviani and Niki Terpstra, was a long held ambition.
“Getting a start in the six-day races was one of the big things I wanted, as a track rider it is something you always dream of doing,” he said.
“These are the races where you are racing in front of 5000 people in packed stadiums and you never really get the opportunity to do that.
“Most people will look back on it as the best moments of their career, regardless of whether they win or not.”
His relentless racing schedule, moving between hemispheres to race all year round, has proven a formula for success.
The self-coached rider said he hoped to continue on an upward trajectory for the next few seasons.
“Cycling is interesting in that some people sometimes don’t hit their peak until their early 30s,” he said.
“I have got three of four years at my absolute best before I start to taper down. There is no rule about how that works, but for me I am in my best years now.”
He said his penchant for shorter form racing meant he avoided the fatigue experienced by so many professional cyclists.
“With my balance between criterium and track I recover really well because it is intense but over a short period of time,” he said.
“That doesn’t break down your body as much as doing five hours out in the rain in a 10-day tour.”
Hall was part of the WA team pursuit squad that won last year’s national championships with Cameron Meyer, Sam Welsford and Michael Freiberg.
He will race the 2019 track nationals this month with Welsford and young guns Conor Leahy and Tyler Lindorff.
“There is a good chance we will win the national title again,” he said.
Hall and his madison partner Joshua Harrison, of South Australia, will compete in six day races in Berlin, Manchester and Melbourne in 2019.