Josh Tarling doesn’t have to look far for inspiration as he bids to race on road and track at the Paris 2024 Olympics. The template has already been sketched out by an Ineos Grenadiers teammate, after all.
In Tokyo three years ago, Filippo Ganna powered Italy to gold in the team pursuit just days after placing fifth in the time trial, and the Hour Record holder will again target both events in Paris this summer.
Tarling, already effectively guaranteed selection for the road after his time trial bronze at last August’s Glasgow Worlds, was drafted into Britain’s elite track endurance programme over the winter. After lining up at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race this weekend, he’ll remain in Australia for the Adelaide Track World Cup, a key stage in his tilt at double Olympic duty.
His teammates Ganna and the 2016 Olympic Omnium champion Elia Viviani had the same idea, with the Italians also choosing to combine the start of their road seasons in Australia with a competitive outing on the track.
“Ganna’s the best pursuit rider in the world and Elia’s probably the best bunch rider in the world, so I couldn’t have better company for it,” Tarling told Cyclingnews at the Surf Coast Classic, where he helped Viviani to second place behind Biniam Girmay.
Tarling is still a few weeks shy of his 20th birthday, but after he exceeded all expectations on the road in his debut season at WorldTour level last year, he was sounded out about the prospects of taking on a dual mandate at the Olympics.
The tight restrictions on competing athletes at the Games means that a rider capable of combining disciplines is of immense value, and Tarling has pedigree on the boards. He claimed European titles at junior and under-23 level, and he collected enough points on the track in Geneva and Grenchen over the winter to qualify for the World Cup.
“It depends on how it goes, but ideally I’d like to do the team pursuit and maybe the Madison at the Olympics,” Tarling said. “I’ve qualified for the World Cup here, just after Cadel’s, so I’ll do that and see how it goes.”
Beyond Adelaide, Tarling – like Ganna and Viviani – is unlikely to race on the track again until the summer, with his Ineos duties taking precedence. “You only have to do one World Cup, so it’ll be just training, I think,” he said. “Obviously, if the track team needs me I’ll do it, but it’s mainly just training for the track and fitting it in around the road racing.”