Sport

Daniel Thorsen could hammer pedals

By Shepparton News

From the moment Daniel Thorsen entered the world, he was destined to keep the wheels spinning for the Thorsen family.

Following his father John’s success in competing at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Thorsen showed an interest in the sport at a young age, but it was his best mate Simon Bitcon who ultimately gave him the push to take up racing.

From that time, Thorsen cycled his way to success with a vast spread of achievements in a short time, including one he considers to be his proudest accomplishment — completing the Tour De Taiwan in 2007.

‘‘As a track cyclist, and a sprinter at that, to complete a tour when even my team and I didn’t think I could, was huge for me,’’ Thorsen said.

While that 800km means the most to him, his cycling career surrounding that event was one filled with action and excitement.

Thorsen was 10 when he won his first track race.

As a youngster who was keen to develop his talent and ability, Thorsen regularly spent Wednesday nights at the Shepparton velodrome.

At age 14 he was selected to represent Victoria at the state championships.

Thorsen said at the time it was the buzz of being on the bike that he liked most, but he has since realised it was the time with his family that he valued most.

‘‘At the time it was the excitement of racing shoulder to shoulder on a 45° angle at 70km/h,’’ he said.

‘‘Looking back now, it’s the family time — Nan, Mama, Pa and Pop coming to watch and the family road trips all across Australia.’’

At 16, Thorsen went on to become an under-17 national champion in the sprint event.

The following year he signed a contract with Pro Continental Cycling Team Drapac Porsche and was selected for the Australian team for the Junior World Championships in Moscow.

There Thorsen won the title in the scratch race and the team sprint, while placing second and third overall in other events.

‘‘One of my many favourite memories was calling my grandfather Frank Thorsen from Moscow after winning bronze in my first world championship race — I should have won, but pulled my foot from the pedal 70m from the line. I ended up with bronze, but calling him to tell him and hearing him cry cracked me and I cried too,’’ he said.

‘‘I will never forget it and he spent so many hours training me.

‘‘It was special.’’

Thorsen continued his momentum, securing another spot in the Australian team for the Los Angeles world titles the next year, where he again reached the podium for the keirin and the team sprint.

That same year was topped off with a win in three separate events at the Youth Commonwealth Games shortly before he claimed the Victorian Cyclist of the Year, Track Cyclist of the Year and became the champion of champions at the Australian Championships.

Thorsen brought his cycling career to an end on his return from the Tour De Taiwan at age 22.

Although he aimed high and accomplished more than he could have imagined in such a short time, Thorsen said he never wished to allow the sport to take over.

‘‘I honestly think I’m the least competitive person going around. I’m so laidback and put things into perspective for myself in the sense it’s only a bike race, why stress?’’ he said.

‘‘The biggest thing to help me relax was in Moscow, on my way to my first world championship we passed a fatal car crash. I can still see the young dead bloke’s face and I just thought what I am about to race in is nothing in the scheme of life. I’ve carried that with me since in sport, work and life.’’

Since returning to the normal life he wished to lead, Thorsen reflected positively on his years of cycling and the support he received from family, friends and sponsors.

Thorsen expressed his gratitude to Truscott Pest Control, Baldi Concreting, Cher Herrington at Fix Muscle Performance and GV Line Marking who were all a part of his journey.