Bicycling spoke to the Olympic cycling team’s manager, Barry Austin on the team selection for London and the most obvious omissions that have had the social networks a-buzz. Austin was not involved in the team selection itself, so all comments are his own opinion.
BICYCLING: Why select Daryl Impey over Robbie Hunter?
AUSTIN: Firstly, swing it around. If Hunter had been selected over Impey, the question would be “Why not Impey?” You are always going to get people questioning the decision of the selectors.
Secondly, Impey has recently won a stage on the World Tour. Whilst Hunter is a valuable rider, he hasn’t had a win like that this season. The question has also been asked why not Reinardt Janse van Rensburg with all his wins? Impey beat the guys he’s going to be racing. Van Rensburg, even with all his wins, hasn’t raced at the same World Tour level.
And what was the reason for not selecting Cherise Taylor?
We only have one clear race winner (Ashleigh Moolman Pasio) who has met the requirements of team selection in terms of World Cup achievements and UCI wins. Hence any other spots were going to go to workers, to assist Ashleigh. Any one of the women in contention could have fulfilled this role. No-one’s mentioned An-Li Pretorius. In stage 2 of the Tour de Free State she stopped to help Ashleigh after she crashed and, along with Robyn de Groot was instrumental in Ashleigh’s success on the day. That’s who we need to help Ashleigh. So perhaps she should have been selected. In the end the selectors went with Jo and Robyn, two solid support riders.
Even though Cherise is ranked higher on the UCI rankings?
Her high ranking is because of points scored at Africa Champs and SA Champs, racing mainly with her own team mates. Take those points away and count only points in truly international races and you are left with only Ashleigh having significant points left to be called a true challenger at present. It would have been great if we did have more riders scoring mainly points in big international races. I am sure this will be changing in the near future.
So it wasn’t because she wasn’t at the Tour de Free State?
Sure, Cherise wasn’t there so the selectors are going on what they see in recent races, I believe. We also have to remember we have to have two workers, since we only have one proven potential winner, so selections I believe were based on this.
And your comments on sending ‘climbers’ for a ‘sprinters’ course?
It might be a ‘sprinter’s’ course in the eyes of riders such as Mark Cavendish, who, let’s be honest, would think Chappies was a speed bump. There are a number of hills on the course, one of which is 3.8km so you need to be able to get over it with the rest of the field, otherwise you will be dropped well before the finish. Then the reference to ‘climbers’ also needs to be looked at. We don’t have a real sprinter as our number one ‘climber’ (Ashleigh) won many of the sprints in RSA last year. So if our climber is winning many of the sprints, who is our sprinter? Surely then the best bet is the best climber who also is the best sprinter.
What are our medal chances?
Anything can happen. If Daryl gets the chance, he will take it and it might just pay off. Ashleigh has got a great support team and has proved she can win against the best.
Bicycling has attempted to get hold of the Cycling South Africa Road Director for comment on the team selection without success to date.