Cyclists win appeal against non-selection for this weekend's world titles
Cycling Australia looks set to take an embarrassing backflip in relation to the selection of the women’s road cycling team for the upcoming world championships in Norway.
An appeal lodged by cyclists Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan was deemed legitimate by an independent panel late on Wednesday, with the matter now back in the hands of Cycling Australia selectors.
Since the women’s team was announced on September 5, the governing body has endured a barrage of criticism around its decision to include five female riders, instead of the full quota of seven.
The decision was made by Cycling Australia’s (CA) new high-performance director, Simon Jones, who said teams were picked based on the form of riders throughout 2017. He expressed confidence the team would be vying for a podium.
But that view is not shared amongst the entire cycling community, with many doubting that a smaller women’s team could compete against nations with full-strength teams.
Cycling Australia chief executive Nick Green said he would seek a speedy resolution to the matter.
Cyclist Tiffany Cromwell, who satisfied the criteria for selection but was left out, described it as a baffling call.
“Women’s cycling is a game of numbers. Australia’s best chance would be to go on the attack and to be aggressive against powerhouse nations like the Dutch and the Italians, who will field seven or eight riders.
“The women’s road program has taken quite a while to rebuild and this year we are up to the third-ranked nation in the world.
“We’ve had results in the big races. We have had the podiums. For him [Jones] to say we don’t deserve the spots, is hard to take.”
Critics say titles a time to gain experience
Cromwell is not the only cyclist at odds with the decision.
Instead of celebrating her inclusion, Gracie Elvin shared her disappointment on social media.
Australia’s former high-performance director, Gary Sutton, said that by leaving the quota unfilled, CA was also failing to take advantage of a golden chance to blood riding talent.
“I was very surprised. It is an opportunity to put riders on the big stage so they get a feeling for it,” he said.
“In two or three years’ time things can change quickly and that experience can certainly help when Tokyo comes around.
“The more numbers you can put there, providing the circuit suits them, takes the pressure of the team leader.
“It can make a major difference — but when you start with five that increases the workloads of the other athletes.”
Road cycling losing its funding edge
Looming large over CA strategy is the Winning Edge funding model, introduced by the Australian Sports Commission in 2012.
It is reviewed annually and funding is linked to performance.
Rio 2016 was a disaster for CA, which underachieved on its target of winning five to seven medals, two to three of those gold.
The team left Brazil with the paltry haul of one silver and one bronze, both from the track.
Cromwell believes road cycling has become less of a priority for CA’s high-performance team.
“They need to get medals but with road cycling it’s really hard to win a medal, compared to on the track,” she said.
“At the Olympics in road cycling there are two medals available and you are up against 120 to 180 riders.”
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