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Olympic selection news for August 8-9
Van Bon out then in
Dutchman Leon Van Bon was ambivalent about a trip to Sydney, however it appears now that he'll be going. Although he was enthusiastic at first, after the GP Ouest France in Plouay he changed his mind "That parcours for the World Championships is for me," he said after not finishing because he still had stomach problems from Le Tour.
Many believe that the combination of the Olympics and World Championships is nearly impossible because there is only a fortnight in between. Dutch national coach, Gerrie Knetemann said "I don't say it's impossible, but it isn't perfect preparation. But, in my active period I won enough races without perfect preparation!".
He believes that Van Bon has quite a good chance in Sydney, and he succeeded in changing his mind. "I was overruled by his decision on Sunday. I couldn't sleep for half the night, because it was such a pity that Leon won't start in Sydney. I decided to try to change his mind and I gave good arguments for a trip to Sydney. I'm happy for Dutch cycling because he will go with us to the Olympics."
The Dutch road team will be announced tomorrow (see below), with Van Bon, Dekker, Knaven, Hoffman, Van Heeswijk and Blijlevens the likely prospects.
All appeals turned down
In addition to Scott Sunderland's unsuccessful appeal to be reconsidered for the Australian Olympic team, the remaining three cyclists who lodged appeals were also turned down. Kathy Watt (Vic), Brent Dawson (NSW) and Stephen Wooldridge (NSW) were heard by the independent tribunal between July 28 and July 31 in Sydney. However, the tribunal dismissed all four appeals and found the nomination criteria was followed by the selectors.
The tribunal for the Dawson, Sunderland and Wooldridge hearings comprised solicitor Deborah Healey (Chair), the former Australian Sports Commission Director of Sports Management, Geoff Strang, and 1984 Olympic cycling gold medalist, Kevin Nichols. For the Watt hearing Ms Healey and Mr Nichols were joined by the Chief Executive Officer of Baseball Australia, Neil King.
Cycling Australia announced the results today and the athletes have until Wednesday to lodge appeals with their the Court of Arbritration for Sport. However, this is a costly procedure and Scott Sunderland and Stephen Wooldridge have said that they will not proceed for that reason.
The selection criteria were criticised by the lawyers representing the four cyclists, "I believe the selection criteria has been drawn in such a way to invite disputes - that's not uncommon, it's in virtually every Olympic sport," said Sunderland's lawyer, Brian Doyle to AAP. Doyle added that hoped that after the Games, the Australian Olympic Committee would be prepared to listen to ideas for reforms of the criteria.
Watt to appeal to Arbitration court
Kathy Watt will take her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after she was one of four Australian cyclists to unsuccessfully appeal to the Independent Tribunal with regard to selection in the Australian team. This is a repeat of 1996, where Watt failed to win against the tribunal, but was successful in the Court of Arbitration, eventually being allowed to contest the individual pursuit in Atlanta.
The Court of Arbitration is the highest level that athletes can take their cases to, should they not be satisfied with the findings of the tribunal. Although the other three athletes (Dawson, Wooldridge and Sunderland) indicated that they would like to take things further, the cost was too great.
National coach Gerrie Knetemann today finalised the five man Dutch men's road team selection for the Olympic Games next month. Erik Dekker and Leon Van Bon (Rabobank), Max Van Heeswijk (Mapei),Tristan Hoffman (Memorycard-Jack&Jones) and Koos Moerenhout (Farm Frites) are the men going to Sydney. "Triple" Dekker will ride the time trial while the other rider will be selected after the Dutch championship on August 16.
Notable absences include Servais Knaven and Jeroen Blijlevens. The latter was informed on Monday of his non-selection and was quite angry: "That is not the way you treat people. He promised me other things and I'm very disappointed. This parcours was beautiful for me. It's okay for sprinters - Erik Zabel was selected for the German team," said Blijlevens.
However, Gerrie Knetemann is not expecting a mass sprint in Sydney, which is why Blijlevens is staying at home. Inspired by Erik Dekker in the Tour de France, Knetemann will follow attacking tactics. In this case, there is no place for Blijlevens and Knaven. "We won't start with a protected leader. Everybody will have his own chance. It's nearly impossible to control a race with a team of five riders, so I think that this is the best way to get a medal. Attacking is in our nature, so we have to use it. We saw it in France with Erik Dekker."
The remainder of the Dutch squad is as follows, while the various countries' complete team selections (to date) can be viewed here.
Leon van Bon (Rabobank)
Bart Brentjens (Subaru-Specialized)
(Axa Cycling Team)
Tandem Records smashed by remarkable duo
One of the many highlights the British National Track Cycling Championships in Manchester was a unique record-breaking feat by a cycling duo who will be representing Great Britain at the Paralympics in Sydney.
Tandem pairing of Andy Slater (able-bodied pilot) and Rob Allen (blind passenger) broke both the British able-bodied record and the world Paralympic record for the 1000m Time Trial, in a stunning ride which also knocked two seconds off their personal best time.
In recording 1 minute 5.7 seconds for the distance, they sliced over half a second off the Paralympic World Record of 1 min 6.22 seconds and a massive 1.6 seconds off the National able-bodied record of 1 min 7.3 seconds. This is thought to be the first instance of a Paralympic athlete breaking a National able-bodied record and represents a remarkable achievement for Andy and Rob, who are both part of cycling's Lottery funded World Class Performance Programme.
Rob Allen related it as follows: "We had done a 1 minute 6.6 in training, so we knew we had a good chance of the British record. However, Andy had already done six sprints that day in the Open Sprint competition, where incidentally he picked up a bronze, so I wasn't sure what to expect from him. I was also pretty stressed and tired having travelled alone up that day from my home in Hampshire."
"As we crossed the line I heard someone shout "five" and we thought they meant 1 minute six point five, which we were delighted with. When we came round next lap and we had slowed enough to hear the correct time we were flabbergasted - it was just phenomenal. Everyone was congratulating us and coming up to shake our hands and talk to us. I've never experienced anything like it."
Rob and Andy have made massive strides this year, something Rob puts down to changes made to the Paralympic training regime earlier this year" "Last year we trained separately from the able-bodied World Class Performance Programme riders. This year, Performance Director Peter Keen has integrated us into the full squad. We now benefit from the best coaching, the best management and the best organisation, from Track Manager Steve Paulding downwards."
"Track Sprint coach Martin Barras has worked closely with us and particularly emphasised our off the bike training. I was squatting 40 kilos back in May. I'm now squatting 110 kilos."
"But it's not just the coaching that's better. As a blind athlete I find training and travelling very difficult to organise and very stressful. Steve Paulding has gone out of his way to do everything possible to make things easier for me: simple things like making sure that I have the same room in the same hotel when I travel up to Manchester, so that I can get used to the layout. He has effectively reduced the effects of being blind. Having someone to worry about things on my behalf has made a big difference. I'm also getting a week's training in Manchester every month, which is a huge step forward."
Rob and Andy are now concentrating their efforts on the build-up to the Paralympics in Sydney, where they will clearly start as one of the favourites in the Tandem Kilo.