Cycling Australia decision on worlds selection appeal
What could have been a rudimentary press release became a fiasco for Cycling Australia. An appeal by two cyclists has been heard and a resolution was found…
Cycling Australia was forced to reconsider its selection for the world championships in Norway later this month after two women appealed their non-selection.
Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan have pushed their sport into the news during football finals time – when cycling usually rarely rates a mention – by challenging the original selection.
Today, after a protracted hearing, the outcome was announced (see full release below).
The result is that seven riders will now be part of the Australian team for the women’s road race.
“Cycling Australia’s Board met last night,” read the release issued on Thursday evening, “and requested that CA’s selectors nominate a total of seven women riders.
“The CA Selectors subsequently nominated a team comprising Gracie Elvin, Katrin Garfoot, Shara Gillow, Chloe Hosking, Rachel Neylan, Sarah Roy and Amanda Spratt to be the elite women’s team.”
It is an issue that has turned the selection policy – and much more about the administration of cycling in Australia – into a bit of a comedy… only that few people are laughing.
Still, in the end, logic prevails.
“I take this opportunity to welcome Chloe and Rachel to the team,” said Cycling Australia’s high performance director in the official announcement. “I’m also looking forward to sitting down and meeting the team face to face in Bergen and discussing my vision, ideas and plans for the future.”
Cycling Australia’s statement regarding the appeal by Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan following a protracted meeting on Thursday (above).
It all began with a rather innocuous release.
“Matthews to spearhead Australian Cycling Team charge at rainbow jersey.”
That was the title of the email from Cycling Australia on 5 September.
It talked about the hopes and ambitions of Cycling Australia at the upcoming road cycling world championships in Bergen, Norway (16-24 September). And few would argue that Michael Matthews indeed deserved leadership status for the men’s road race that would conclude the championships.
At a glance, some would note a few curiosities: Heinrich Haussler, a reliable rider at championships past, was included on the list despite not having raced too much in 2017; Nathan Haas, a power-house suited to the undulating course in Bergen who has been in fantastic form this year was missing; Jack Haig, would be an elite road race debutant; a former silver medallist, Simon Gerrans, made himself unavailable for selection… etc.
But then, scroll down the email from Cycling Australia a little and something else seemed awry.
In paragraph 12 was a statement: “In the women’s selections, the selected riders have proved themselves throughout 2017 and we are confident they will be in the mix to get near the podium.”
Simon Jones talked about the women’s team for the road race: Elvin, Garfoot, Gillow, Roy and Spratt – all names we’re familiar with, all quality riders, all a national champion at one time or another…
But there were five names on the list at the bottom of the page. And yet, Australia – as the third ranked nation in the world at the time – was able to field seven riders. Furthermore, given that Lisen Hocking had won the Oceania championships, an additional spot was open for the Australian team.
What should have been a team of eight was whittled down to five.
Katrin Garfoot won the bronze medal at the 2016 worlds in Doha, Qatar (above).
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
At the time of the announcement, Australia was ranked third in the women’s category (it has since dropped to fourth, with the Netherlands, USA and Italy better placed).
In the list of individuals, the best of the Australian riders at the time of the team selection announcement was Chloe Hosking. There she is, in eighth place (see below). At the world championships last year, the sprinter was the best placed of the Aussies – seventh in the sprint won by Denmark’s young star Amalie Dideriksen.
On 5 September Hosking didn’t rate a mention in Cycling Australia’s list. Neither did Hocking. While they may have been considered, they weren’t included in a race many believe they should be contesting.
The world rankings a day before Cycling Australia announced their selection for the worlds (above).
Hosking is now ranked 11th in the world; the next best Australian is Shara Gillow in 25th.
Gillow made Cycling Australia’s selection and she deserves her place – her strengths suit the course – so do the other four who made the original cut. But this is cycling and we all know there is strength in numbers. But there would be omissions by Jones and his cohort on the selection panel (Brad McGee, Rik Fulcher and Dave McPartland).
Meanwhile, another Australian, Rachel Neylan – who has finished second in the worlds before (the best position Australia has earned in world championship road races in the past) – was also missing from the selection. She excels on the kind of course that Bergen presents…
Hocking, Hosking, Neylan and a host of other in-form Australian riders are currently in Europe. They are a short flight from Norway. There have been some in the Australian cycling community who have said they’d cover the expenses for additional women to contest the road race… but Cycling Australia didn’t even consider that option.
Because the aim is to back riders who have potential for… well, success at the Olympics in 2020.
And before long the innocuous release turned into a fiasco.
Uh oh… a few people noticed: there were five names. There could have been eight!
What’s going on?
Questions began to be asked. And they continued to be asked until Simon Jones, the new high performance director for Cycling Australia, was forced to offer his explanation.
“We’ve just tried to pick the people that we feel are going to give Australia the best possible outcome. And, on that basis, we felt five have earned that for this year – and that was the five that the panel have decided to take.”
Sorry Chloe. Sorry Rachel. Sorry Lisen… No worlds for you!
Rachel Neylan and Tiffany Cromwell at the worlds in 2014 (above).
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
On Wednesday, Cycling Australia was back into a corner.
Two riders, Hosking and Neylan, appealed. They believed they should be included and give their team the best chance of winning the rainbow jersey which has, to date, eluded Australian women cyclists.
By now it seemed plausible that the quintet may grow – albeit against the whims of Jones who has been employed with one focus: Olympic gold. He is in his rights to ignore the quest for success at the world championships because his remit – according to the Winning Edge policy of the Australian Sports Commission – relates to the Olympics, the Olympics and the Olympics. His first challenge will be Tokyo. (If he lasts in his role until Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 remains to be seen.)
He has been ruthless in his approach, but it’s anything but popular.
Track cycling is the focus and Jones doesn’t mind reminding people of that fact. There are 12 medals on offer in Tokyo for track events and only four for the road. Based on the task he was recruited for – the alluring prospect of riding for Olympic gold – we can understand the decision… even if we don’t agree with it.
But, in the short-term, there are careers on the line and although neither Hosking nor Neylan wanted to force things through to an appeal, they were left with no option.
* * * * *
“Cycling Australia has been notified by the independent Selection Review Panel (SRP) that appeals lodged by Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan in relation to Australian Women’s team selections for the 2017 UCI road world championships have both been allowed, based on determination of UCI quota spots,” read the release from Cycling Australia yesterday.
“The SRP has referred the matter back to the CA selectors who will now reconvene and reconsider the selection decision.
“CA CEO Nicholas Green said that he would seek a speedy resolution to the selection for world championships and confirmed that every athlete seeking nomination in the Australian team is entitled to seek an independent review of their non-selection in accordance with CA’s policies.”
* * * * *
On Thursday, at 6.27pm, Cycling Australia finally capitulated.
There will be seven starters for the Australian women’s team at the 2017 road cycling world championships.
If nothing else, consider this: more people than ever before will be tuning in to see if one of ‘our’ riders will turn a green and gold jersey into a rainbow jersey.
Apparently, according to today’s release: “The CA Board and CEO Nick Green wish all members of the Australian team at the 2017 road worlds the very best.”
What a shame it had to be resolved in arbitration.
We wait to see what unfolds but also beg the question: why did it have to come to this?
– By Rob Arnold