Cycling Australia's TOUR DOWN UNDER Selection

Photo: Riley Hart

Photo: Riley Hart

Cycling Australian made the correct decision for the Tour Down Under Uni-SA squad.

A guest spot in the Uni - SA National squad at the Tour Down Under is the most valuable start for an amateur Australian rider. It's the platform for an athlete to display their talent to the UCI WorldTour.

Over the last week, there has been an outcry on social media as the keyboard warriors pounced at the opportunity to tear Cycling Australia (CA) to shreds after they selected Michael Potter over the newly crowned National Champion, Michael Freiberg.  

For me, the selection committee: Simon Jones, Donna Rae-Szalinski and Brad McGee, made the correct decision. The criteria was set, they stuck to it and made the hard call.

Michael Potter fits CA’s points outlined for selection.

  1. Junior Worlds riders.

  2. Under 23 athletes racing domestically (Nationals performances are then weighted).

  3. Riders on an upward trajectory and Under 23.

  4. Rider Mentors - ie a team captain role.

Freiberg missed out for one simple reason; his characteristics do not align with the selection criteria. Based on pure ability, he would make the team any day of the week (and twice on Sunday). Unfortunately, due to the new National Road Series team clause, the squad is largely preselected, leaving only two spots available - both of which give preference to U23 riders. This, in my view, makes Potter the right selection choice.  Yes, it’s a hard decision but that’s professional sport.

Cycling Australia did make a couple of mistakes along the way, which hasn’t helped their PR disaster. First, their criteria assumed that a professional was going to win the National Championships. Anyone that has bet on a cycling race before would know it's a genuine lottery! All those poor punters who backed the current world champion to win the National Time Trial at $1.08, experienced the gamble of cycling first hand on Tuesday.  CA needed to be clear cut: either include a clause for a spot allocated to the national champion (if a non-professional) or just a focus on under 23 riders.

Second, the pre-selection doesn't work.  CA implemented a nice incentive last year that provides the winning National Road Series team five of the seven spots for TDU. This is great in theory but results in the team being selected too far out. An under 23's progression is always fluctuating except for the top under 23s, the likes of; Rob Power, Caleb Ewan, Jack Haig, there's normally an exceptional performance at road nationals that deserves a position.

Cam Scott for example - his ride was unreal in the under 23s.  He brought back the break for his teammate before running fourth himself in the bunch kick.  He would go to TDU as a possible stage winner and also play a vital support role for Chris Harper.

A side note - why is Sarah Gigante not riding the TDU? She single-handedly dominated the females National Championship race.

CA also forgot to communicate and instead sent out a cold-hearted media release of the TDU selection and "declined to comment" on their reasoning, setting themselves up to be destroyed on social media.  CA have one of the likable men in Australian cycling, Brad Mcgee, as the sports director and he should have been front and centre to support this decision.

I support CA's decision to give Michael Potter the ride at the TDU and sticking to their criteria but moving forward they need to tighten the specifics.

I would:

1 -   reduce the number of riders pre-selected to provide more room to move on the selection

2 -  if you win the national championship you should be in the team

It’s always going to be one of the hardest decision in Australian cycling but hopefully with some tighter parameters the selection will have more clarity moving forward.

See you back at the social club,