Third Edition News for November 22, 1997

The reply to the bureaucrats from Heiko

This is the official reply from Australian Institute of Sport Head Road Cycling Coach, Heiko Salzwedel to his sacking by Cycling Australia as the National Road Coach on Thursday. It also follows public comments by the President of Cycling Australia, Ray Godkin, who was critical of Heiko. I published those comments this morning.

At least this Press Release puts some perspective and facts into the debate that has been missing in recent years due to a singular failure by the Australian Cycling Federation (now Cycling Australia) to adequately promote the sport in Australia. The fact I still have not received and won't receive the full results of the National Championships from Cycling Australia is testimony to their reluctance to pursue communication means that will promote our sport. I could say more about that but maybe another time.

This press release will allow the cycling public to gain some appreciation about what has been happening in road cycling in Australia since Heiko has been National Coach and also what has been happening behind closed doors over that time to undermine his position.

As an anecdote about the way Cycling is organised in Australia we cast our mind back to the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Western Australia's Tony Davis by winning the National Championships qualified under the rules that were set down to represent Australia in the individual pursuit. The other big pursuiter of the day was Dean Woods and he had not gained qualification. This was contrary to ad hocery and the ACF believed Dean Woods was the best chance for a medal. Maybe he was but Davis had won the right to represent Australia. You may recall the farce that ensued. Davis was forced into a ride-off against Woods a few days before the event was to be raced in Seoul. Davis lost and Woods took his place and failed to win the Gold.

Why is this an illustration of the point? Well while Woods was hammering himself to beat Tony Davis in the ride-off just days before the pursuit was to begin, rival coaches from other countries including Germany, our big track rivals, were sitting in the shade of the Grandstand with their stop watches getting as much data about Woods as they needed to plan their attacks against him in the days to come. They knew how much form he had, his lap times and the rest of it.

The problem is that this sort of mess up is common and goes back in my memory to the early 1970s when the powers that be sacked Danny Clark's father as Coach and Danny refused to ride for Australia in the next Olympics. We lost our greatest track rider in that fiasco (although maybe Russell Mockridge fans might disagree). Most recently has been the Kathy Watt and Lucy Tyler-Sharman fiasco, largely generated by ridiculous selection rules and the bending of them by the powers that be. And now our National Road Coach has been sacked.

Anyway, read on and make up your own minds.

24/11/1997 - MEDIA RELEASE

The following Media Release includes the response from AIS Head Road Cycling Coach HEIKO SALZWEDEL to comments, made by the President of Cycling Australia, Ray Godkin, with regard to his non-reappointment for the position of the National Road Cycling Coach.

Heiko held the position as the Australian National Road Coach over the last seven years. Five years ago, he was appointed as the AIS Head Coach, Road Cycling.

"The most disappointing thing personally is I have given seven years of my life and energy into the growth of Road Cycling and now, when we are starting to have a profile, I've been shut out," he said.

The program has delivered the results and provided Australia's best Road Cyclists a career path within our own system. Professional riders such as Patrick Jonker (12th place at the Tour de France'96), Henk Vogels (Australia's Cyclist of the Year 1997), Robbie McEwen (7th Points Classification, Tour de France'97), Jay Sweet (11 International wins in 1997), MarceI Gono (5 wins in 1997, 4th U23 World Championships'96), Jonothan Hall (8th Elite World Championships'97) Matt White (2nd Giro del Capo, South Africa'97), Peter Rogers (2nd Tour of Japan'97), Nick Gates (Australian Road Champion; Winner, Commmonwealth Bank Cycle Classic'96) and many others emerged from this program to succeed in the Professional ranks.

They all know that the AIS program has developed them to be in the position they are today. "But it is best for them to tell you that," said Salzwedel.

The best compliment for Salzwedel came from Henk Vogels, voted Australian Cyclist of the Year, when he identified Salzwedel as the major influence in progressing him to a stunning professional career and a person that he still confides in. Heiko took pride that five Cyclists had been nominated for the 1997 Road Cyclist of the Year Awards when other disciplines were struggling to nominate three athletes.

A further indication, what a healthy state Australia's Road Cycling enjoys, is the non-inclusion of Jay Sweet, the latest star of Heiko's program, to make the final five selection for the Road Cyclist of the Year.

Responding to Godkin's statements Heiko was not responsible for the performances of Australia's leading road cyclists he said: "I've always used the World Class facilities of the AIS to develop Road Cycling in Australia. To maximize the standard of Australia's best Road Cyclists was always my priority, if they are members of the AIS or not. It did not make a difference to me as the National Road Coach which funds have been used to finance the operations of the Australian National Team."

Significant savings of $70,000 at the end of the Financial Year 1994/95 and additional sponsorship allowed us to transform the Elite group of the GIANT-AIS Cycling Program into the "GIANT Australian Institute of Sport Pro Cycling Team".

The financial records, managed by the AIS Finance section, showed another significant savings of $50,000 at the end of the Financial Year 1995/96.

In December 1996 the Australian Sports Commission downgraded Road Cycling to a Category 2 sport halfway through the financial year. As an indirect result of this downgrading, combined with some further loss of Sponsorship the Program slide into financial difficulties. Several meeting have been held to reduce the shortfalls over the next financial year.

"At no time I have been warned or made aware of the possibility to close down the AIS Road Program with its "Giant-AIS Pro Team". In addition, it has never been put to my attention, that the direction the Road Program was heading, was a major concern for Cycling Australia nor that my position as the Australian National Road Coach have been under review."

To offset the shortfalls in 1997 Heiko negotiated with the American based Saturn Cycling Team, a division of General Motors. The result was a realistic model, which would allow us to continue to race in 1998 as an Australian/American joint venture: the Saturn-Australian Institute of Sport Cycling Team.

This proposal would permit five Aussies to race a similar racing program than in 1997 with less than 1/3 of the cost from 1997. Saturn would cover the cost of M. White, P. Rogers and N. Gates from January 1, 1998 and two more riders (e.g. J. Hall) later on in the year. They also would pay the salary of Assistant Coach Brian Stephens.

Further negotiations include the AIS Women's Team as well some more MTB riders in addition to the top Aussie Cadel Evans. Cadel will race in 1998 with the American Volvo-Cannondale MTB Team, which is operated by the same organization.

Cycling Australia blocked this proposal, Ray Godkin said: "It is not our duty to buy jobs", misjudging the real benefit of an Australian sub-section in this high ranked professional team.

A major concern is how Cycling Australia has handled this and many other cases.

"Through the media I learned about my sacking. On the top of that, I have found out through a television interview, made with the President of Cycling Australia, Ray Godkin, that this decision has been made by his Executive twelve months ago and since that time, my position was under probation."

Salzwedel reflected on the development and progress of Australian Road Cyclists since his first appointment to the National Coach in 1991 as proof of his contribution to Road Cycling.

He said: "During the seven years I have had not been involved in any scandal, not one of my riders has been involved in drugs and the progression of Road Cycling has been on the upward curve since the very first year".

"Australia moved from nowhere to the number six Amateur Road Cycling country in 1994 and fifth in the Amateur World Cup in 1995."

"Since the "unification" of Professional and Amateur Cycling by the end of 1995 through the UCI, we went again from nowhere to 13th in 1996 and to 10th in 1997. The Giant-AIS Cycling Team won 18 races in 1997, eleven wins went to the 22 years old Jay Sweet, only four Pro riders in the World had more wins in 1997 than Jay. These riders are Erik Zabel (Ger/18 wins), Laurant Jalabert (Fra/17), Jan Svorada (Czech R/16) and Italian Megastar Mario Cipollini(Ita/15). The youngest Team in the professional Peloton (average age: 24 years) won more races then Cofidis (Fra/16), Lotto (Bel/16), US Postal (US/15) etc."

"It is a major disappointment that the Cycling Australia's College of Coaches have no trust in my work. Not once have I been invited to attend a Coaches Meeting in the past four years. The last two meetings with the State Coaches since Atlanta I have been precluded deliberately. Most of them have shown little interest in Road Cycling until now. It appears that they want a full blooded Australian in this position."

"The decision, made by Cycling Australia to appoint Shane Bannan as the National Road Coach will have no effect on my good relationship with Shane and with my riders who will continue to work with me as the AIS Head Coach, Road Cycling. Besides coaching, I will spend the next couple of months negotiating with potential sponsors to re-vitalize the abandoned "AIS Pro Team" in 1999".

"The re-establishment of a link from National and State Cycling to lucrative professional careers is necessary to ensure that Australia has the best possible chances for Sydney 2000."

End of Release.

If cycling fans want to comment, I am happy to be publish replies as long as they are within the limits of legality.

Rominger To Take Up Marathon

Swiss cyclist Tony Rominger, who has just retired from the Cofidis team, is to take up marathon running for the pleasure and challenge of it. The 36-year old one-time Giro and three-time Vuelta winner is in serious training for the event with his masseur Marcelino Torronegui (who will be in charge of Alex Zulle's legs in 1998) and has asked Dr Michele Ferrari to draw up a preparation plan. Rominger and Torronegui have in mind a debut in the Barcelona marathon next October and have a target of a sub three-hour time for the 42.195km event.

Erwan Mentheour to Riso Scotti

French rider Erwan Mentheour, 24, whose contract with La Francaise des Jeux has not been renewed is to join the Emmanuele Bombini's Riso Scotti team (the successor to Batik) on an initial one-year contract where he will join, among others, Fabio Baldato, Nicola Minali and Vladislav Bobrik.

Madiot Completes La Francaise des Jeux Team

Marc Madiot has now completed his 22-man team (the maximum allowed by the UCI) for 1998. In addition to signings and re-signings already noted in these pages, Madiot has hired two young French "amateurs": Franck Perque (VC Cote Picarde), a bronze medallist in this year's Perth track Worlds in the team pursuit, and Jimmy Casper, 19 (VC Saint-Quentin). An older "amateur", Franck Morelle (33), is also to join the team from CC Nogent-sur-Oise. Morelle, who had a brief pro career in 1992 in the short-lived Eurotel team, is seen by Madiot as a seasoned rider who will be well-suited to looking after the less experienced youngsters in his team. Madiot has also signed Belgian Patrick D'Hondt, described by Madiot as "a good Flemish rider with a good mentality who will make a good cowboy [sic]".

Gianetti Wins in Mauritius, Longo Fifteenth

A dozen pros vacationing in Mauritius joined local riders last week in a pair of criteriums. In one of the races, won by Mauro Gianetti, Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli also took part, finishing 15th. Longo apparently did not contest the sprint, having just attempted a breakaway. Also taking part were Stephane Barthe, Herve Broussard, Jean-Philippe Dojwa, Jacky Durand, Fabrice Gougot, Thierry Laurent, Frderic Moncassin, Christophe Moreau, Davide Rebellin and Francisque Teyssier. In the second race, won by Stephane Barthe, Longo pulled out on the third lap, but appeared on the podium that day as a result of a third place in the two-up "gentleman" (a "pro" plus an amateur) time trial.

Big Lance Bash

There is to be a big ride in Tuscon on Saturday November 22 that is dedicated to Lance Armstrong. There are also tons of other's that are going to be here, including: Chris Horner, Kent Bostict, Patrick Eyk (who is sponsored by Mostowy Cycles who also sponsor this site), Clara Hughes, Maynard Herschon, a bunch of Saturn riders, the Carney brothers and more.

It is a charity ride, but it will be ridden like a race. Most people race it anyway. Lance has said he wants to win, so it should be interesting. And with all these other people, it could be interesting. I hope to get a report and results tomorrow from a Sean Kneale (Team CDS)