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Olympic selection news for July 30
Sunderland to court
Readers, Australian and non-Australian alike will be familiar with Scott Sunderland, an Australian professional rider who has based himself in Belgium for many years and currently rides for the Palmans-Ideal team. The careers ups and downs of Scott have been well chronicled in his diary on cyclingnews, and are widely read. The latest chapter involves his non-selection in the Australian Olympic road team (announced last week), a decision which he feels was unjust. He decided to appeal to the Cycling Australia Tribunal, along with four other cyclists: Kathy Watt, Brent Dawson and Steven Wooldridge. Their cases are scheduled to be heard today.
The following is an article written by Geoff Newling that appeared in today's Northern Daily Leader, a local paper in Scott's hometown of Inverell, NSW.
Inverell cyclist Scott Sunderland heads to court today to try and earn a berth in the 2000 Olympics. The 33-year-old professional cyclist is one of four Australian cyclists, including Kathy Watt, taking their case to a Cycling Australia Tribunal today.
The former Australian road racing champion, who was second in this year's Australian road race championship, is disillusioned and upset with his non-selection in the Australian road racing team to compete at the Sydney Olympics. He is also upset by his notification by e-mail of his non-selection. The notification left him just half an hour to lodge his appeal before the appeal deadline closed. Sunderland's non-selection in the five-man Australian road team was made even more disappointing by his non-selection as one of two reserves.
That meant Cycling Australia officials believed him to to be not in the top seven riders. After beating all bar one rider home in the Australian titles earlier this year he is non-plussed by the lack of credit given to the national championship at which all the leading Australian riders, and those selected in the Australian team, rode in.
Unfortunately it appears to be a continuation of previous selection omissions. In 1986 he won the Australian road racing championship as an teenager but was left out of the Australian Commonwealth Games team. He then headed overseas to ride as an amateur before turning professional in 1990. Not coming through the Australian Institute of Sport cycling program may have been a major drawback for Sunderland, as he has always fended for himself and organised his own career. In 1996 he thought he didn't have to do much to make the Olympic team after some outstanding performances in Europe. But he was overlooked for the Olympic team, took it on the chin and didn't appeal. This time around he is eager to press his claims for selection. If unsuccessful at today's Tribunal he will take his battle to the Court of Arbitration and the Australian media.
In the past few weeks, several countries have been holding their national track championships. In an Olympic year, these are considered important form guides and selection races governing the composition of the Olympic team. During this week, the two major ones have been the French and the British championships. So far, there have been several top performances any many other countries with track aspirations will be watching the results with interest.
In Britain (Manchester) earlier on in the week, Paul Manning won the Men's 4000m Individual Pursuit in a time of 4.22.013 (54.96 km/h). It is a quick time in these post-superman days, and Manning broke Graeme Obree's 1995 British record by 0.6 seconds. Later on in the week, 39 year old Yvonne McGregor managed to snare the women's 3000m Individual Pursuit after a close battle with Emma Davies in the final. McGregor rode 3.40.915 (48.89 km/h), her best of the series to down Davies who had led earlier on in the piece.
Contrast that to the French results, where Phillipe Gaumont won the 4000m men's event on the Hyeres velodrome in 4.33.679 (52.61 km/h). The fastest qualifier was actually Jérôme Neuville (4.31.901), but he could not produce this in the final. The women's race was predictably dominated by last year's World Champion, Marion Clignet, who qualified in 3.38.463 (49.43 km/h) and went on to beat Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli in the final by a considerable margin. She also added the points race to her palmares and will go to Sydney as one of the big favourites.
French kilo time trial star, Arnaud Tournant cruised to a win in 1.01.906 (58.15 km/h), beating the next rider Hervé Thuet by 1.37 seconds. Tournant has been untouchable in the kilo for the past few years, but can he get it together in Sydney versus Shane Kelly on "home" turf?
In the men's sprint Florian Rousseau gained the title over the slightly more favoured Laurent Gane, with Frederic Magne taking third. The women's event is yet to be completed, but Felicia Ballanger qualified fastest in 11.317, after also winning the 500m time trial in a very fine 34.644 seconds.
In other news, Swiss trackie, Franco Marvulli (who as also spent some time in Australia) won the Swiss points championship of the SRV (Schweiz. Rennfahrer Verband) on July 18 for the third year in a row. On July 18, on the open air track in Oerlikon, he dominated the race by lapping the field twice. Second was Kurt Betschart, currently riding in the Six Days of Fiorenzuola.
To Germany, and 30 year-old Berliner, Sören Lausberg has managed to gain an Olympic berth in the kilometre time trial after an outstanding performance in the Oderlandhalle velodrome this week. After suffering from an achilles injury for a good part of the year, Lausberg missed the initial Olympic track selection and was asked to ride under 1.03.5 seconds to be given a chance. He did more than this, riding 1.01.96 on Thursday night, breaking Maic Malchow's 4 year old German record set at altitude. With this time, Lausberg could well be in the medals in Sydney.
Lausberg joins Jens Fiedler, Jan van Eijden and Stefan Nimke as the four member German sprint team. He also pushed out training partner, Erk Pokorny, who did not perform up to scratch in the German championships.
French Olympic track team
After the conclusion of the French national track championships today, fourteen track riders were chosen by the FFC to represent France at the Olympic Games in Sydney. The French won four gold and two silver medals in Atlanta, and have stated that they want to at least equal this. They are very strong in all four of the women's disciplines, as well as the men's sprint events, and have a decent chance in the team pursuit.
However, there were a few surprises in the selection, such as the inclusion of Philippe Gaumont in the individual pursuit, despite his long absence from the track and relatively slow time in the final. Additionally, Christophe Capelle's selection in both the points and the madison may make it tough on him in the road race, where he is preselected after winning the French title. His partner in the madison will be Robert Sassone, who normally rides with Damien Pommereau. However, the latter is on the reserves list. Similarly, Franck Perque who won the national points race was also ignored in favour of Capelle.
The sprint team has yet to be finalised in terms of who will ride what event. At the moment, national sprint champion Florian Rousseau will ride the keirin along with Frederic Magné, while the trio of Laurent Gané, Vincent Quellec and Arnaud Tournant will ride the Olympic sprint. Tournant is of course to ride the kilo, and Gané and Quellec the individual sprint. This team was fairly flexible according to national coach Daniel Morelon.
French Olympic Track Team
Arnaud Tournant (Kilo/Olympic
Marion Clignet (Pursuit,
More on French track selection
After the fourteen riders for the French Olympic track squad were selected, there were a few questions asked as to some of the team members. National champions Franck Perque (Points) and Damien Pommerau (Madison) were ignored in favour of French road champion, Christophe Capelle, who will pair Robert Sassone in the madison as well as riding the points race. In addition, Philippe Gaumont was given the ride in the individual pursuit ahead of Philippe Ermenault, Francis Moreau, and Jérôme Neuville who are just for the team pursuit.
National coach Patrick Cluzaud defended and explained his choices in an interview with AFP after the finish of the titles. He said that he made a distinction between the sprint group and the endurance group: In the former, it was tough to decide out of Laurent Gané, Vincent Quellec, Florian Rousseau and Frederic Magné who was to ride which sprint event. The decision, said Cluzaud, was made on the basis of "the stopwatch". Gané's 10.099 qualifying time for the sprint was good enough, even though he didn't win the title. Florian Rousseau was also included after his win in the national's.
In the endurance group, not all had peaked for the national's, so this was taken into account. They were also limited to seven riders by the Olympic selection criteria: "For Franck Perque and Damien Pommereau, it was very tough, even more so as they form part of the whole of the national team. I can tell them that there will be chances after the Olympics and that we are counting on them," said Cluzaud, meaning the World Championships in Manchester.
The selection of Capelle was interesting, given his road hopes. However, the French champion is considered to be a better chance on the track and may forgo a berth on the road team. His final road race is a whole month before the Olympics, so it may be quite tough for him to double up. The final French team selection will be made on August 7, and the absolute deadline for changes is August 25. Capelle has not yet been given a spot on the road team.
All in all, the track team is very experienced and strong, arguably having a chance for six gold medals in Sydney.
Alison on Cheerios
Canada's number one female mountain biker, Alison Sydor, had done enough to qualify for the Olympic team before it was finalised last Monday. She has been further honoured with a distinction that few cyclists earn-getting her face on the Multi Grain Cheerios box, put out by General Mills (an Olympic sponsor) in Canada. Lance Armstrong managed the same feat last year when he was "published" on the Wheeties box in the USA. Have any other cyclists achieved national sporting icon status with their face on a cereal box? (Don't ask me for the Australians, because I don't eat cereal).