News for November 22, 1997

Official Press Release from Cycling Australia

This is the full transcript of the Sport Media Release from Cycling Australia, Thursday 20 November 1997. Tonight I spoke at length to Heiko and I will bring you material from that including his reply to the Official Cycling Australia press release. Things are definitely not smooth in Australian cycling at present despite the gloss that the following release attempts to put on it. Most of the riders I know are feeling somewhat ashamed by it all today. While not attributing everything to one man, the progress made in recent years, with the Giant-AIS team ranked in the top 30 first year in, was largely due to the efforts of Heiko Salzwedel. The riders know that. Pity others don't. Anyway, more on the other side tomorrow. Here is the Official bureaucratic explanation.

National Cycling Coaches Appointed

Earlier today, the Cycling Australia Executive confirmed its appointment for the positions of National Cycling Coaches for 1998 after reviewing recommendations from the Federation's College of Coaches.

The appointments are:

  • National Head Track Coach Mr DB (Charlie) Walsh
  • National Track Sprint Coach Mr Gary West
  • National Men's Road Coach Mr Shayne Bannan
  • National Women's Road Coach Mr James Victor
  • National Mountainbike Coach Mr Damian Grundy
  • National Junior Track Coach Mr Gary Sutton
  • National Junior Road Coach Mr Martin Barras
  • National Junior Women's Road Coach Ms Liz Hepple
  • In addition to the above appointments, State ITC Coaches will be co-opted from time to time in an assistant capacity to national coaches. The appointment of Liz Hepple is conditional upon a full team of junior women being selected and available.

    [Para 4] In electing not to re-appoint Heiko Salzwedel to the Men's Road position, Cycling Australia President, Mr Ray Godkin, cited a very apparent lack of support and confidence from the national coaching fraternity, which includes state ITC coaches and other AIS coaches.

    [Para 5] "We have also had grave concerns as to the program direction and financial management of the Men's Road Program over the past few years", Mr Godkin added.

    "It has been a very difficult decision and one that is tinged with considerable sadness", said Mr Godkin, "however, we now look forward with much optimism for the future of Australian Road Cycling".

    "We have a great deal of faith in the ability of Shayne Bannan to take road cycling on to a very successful future and achieve our objectives in the year 2000 and beyond. We are also confident that Shayne's appointment will play a significant role in the much desired unification of our sport across all disciplines."

    The national road program will embrace a broad spectrum of projects to ensure that elite Australian road cyclists have the opportunity to develop through to the top professional ranks. This will include:

    • The maintenance of the existing U23 endurance program based in Italy which is focused on the education and development of young riders on their pathway to professional status.
    • The enhancement of this U23 program to include a wider variety of racing in Europe, such as U23 World Cup events, in order to extend the leading group of the U23 riders.
    • The extension of the Italian program to include a number of riders up to the U26 age group - this may include selection of some time trial specialists, an event in which Australians have achieved considerable success in recent years.
    • The placement of other developing road cyclists in (Category 2) Trade Teams in order to expose and develop their skills.
    • Servicing those Australian riders placed in top professional trade teams with sports science and otehr support services.
    • Support for the establishment of an Australian based trade team.

    In agreement with the Australian Sports Commission, Heiko Salzwedel has been given the role of attracting the necessary support for the creation of an independently funded Australian based trade team.

    "While we acknowledge that this is a significant challenge for Heiko, we are nevertheless fully supportive of the vision", said Mr Godkin. "Heiko's particular skills in the area of meadia and sponsorship are unquestionably well suited to this challenge."

    "Cycling Australia acknowledges and is grateful for the significant role that Heiko Salzwedel has played in exposing Australian road cycling on the international stage and the resultant increase in profile that road cycling has developed in Australia."

    [Bill notes: The last paragraph should be read again in relation to paragraphs 4 and 5 of the official release which I marked for reference and which do not appear in the official transcript. Try to render them consistent. You cannot!]

    Changes in NL as well

    Ben Wigger, National coach for the Dutch juniors, will leave the KNWU at the end of this year for personal reasons.

    Changes in Switzerland as well

    Tony Rominger has taken over from Stephen Hodge at IMG. Hodge resigned on October 23 and is looking for work back home in Australia.

    Changes in NZ as well

    One of New Zealandís greatest cyclists, Brian Fowler, has announced he is no longer available for international competition.

    Fowler, 35, who has dominated the sport in New Zealand for more than a decade and ranks among the best from any era, said today he had withdrawn from the Oceania championships next month and would no longer be available for national teams.

    He cited increasing work commitments at the Christchurch electrical company he owns and a young family as reasons he could not afford to devote a sufficient amount of time to cycling.

    "I love riding my bike so much Iíll never say Iím stopping," he said, "but from now on Iíll just ride in Canterbury and maybe a bit beyond. I canít afford the time to race competitively overseas."

    Cycling New Zealandís director of coaching, Eddie Bright, described Fowlerís retirement as the end of an era. "He has been one of New Zealandís outstanding sportsmen from any sport," he said, "and he has been an example and a standard-bearer in cycling."

    Fowler has ridden at four Olympic and four Commonwealth Games, with a best Olympic placing of seventh in the points race in Los Angeles in 1984. He has won six Commonwealth medals, including a hat-trick of silvers in the road race.

    His string of victories in New Zealand include the North Island tour, numerous national titles including two in a row in the senior menís road race, and an unprecedented and probably unmatchable eight wins in the Tour of Southland. He has also won tours in Germany and Canada. Fowlerís prowess has also been acknowledged outside the sport. He was chosen as the national flagbearer for the team marchpast at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994 and the same year, he won the Hillary Commissionís Fair Play Award.

    Bright said it was not just for his skill and talent on a bike for which Fowler would be remembered. "The whole country felt for him in 1990 when he rode in the Commonwealth Games road race, and still finished second, just days after the tragic death of his father," he said.

    Fowler decided to quit after this yearís Tour of Southland, in which he was third, a fortnight ago. He raced in support of teammate Graeme Miller with whom he had first teamed up at the Los Angeles Olympics in the points race and said he realised he did not have the same edge anymore as Miller and other riders such as Glen Thomson, who had been racing overseas.

    "To be really competitive youíve got to race overseas more often than I can afford to do," he said.

    For further information, contact Eddie Bright at 04-8018752 or 021-531 019

    And finally ... Stevo is on his way back home

    Neil Stephens, Australian Cyclist of the Year despite what other awards might indicate, has had an operation back in Spain on his injured tendons (during Tour of Spain). He is returning to Australia in the next week and will be a featured rider in the big Criterium in Brisbane in December. Entry details soon.