• Big Kev

    These approaches to recruiting and managing sporting talent are very cyclical in their trendiness. In five years time it will all change. Barras and co will be justifying why their new ‘Inclusive Team Selection and Retention’ philosophy, modeled after studying honey bees in the hive, is far better than the outdated “Weeding out the weak” approach of the SAS. There will be a cute green & gold honey bee logo on the cycling kit and all CA coaches will get a complimentary jar of honey with their new coaching contracts.

    • jules

      when you think about it the peloton is like a swarm of bees. and the water carriers are like worker bees. the only difference is that in the bee world, the queen bee is bigger than the others, whereas in cycling they would get dropped on the hills.

    • Dave

      And best of all, the honey would come in handy when things start to come unstuck.

  • Neil

    I’d be interested in Martin’s viewpoint on how their model compares to men’s road and Aust track team recruitment. As an observer, I’d say that the only consideration is the size of the engine. Gerrans never made it into any AIS programs nor Simon Clarke. Yet Bobridge was projected to have the world at his feet and for a range of reasons, didn’t deliver.
    Should the womens road model be applied more widely?

    • Gavin Adkins

      Pedant alert. Perhaps Bobridge’s career on the road has not (yet) hit the heights many people have hoped for, but he has won several world titles (including the U23 road TT title) and holds the world record for the individual pursuit having beaten the mark set by Boardman in the superman position that stood for 15 years. I do not think it is fair to say that the lad has not delivered.

      • Neil

        Settle down. The selection process is to find ‘great racers, instead of great riders’. Bobridge’s achievements (which are significant) have all been made when he has been a part of an AIS setup in his hometown where everything is geared towards producing a great rider. The guys physiology marked him as a star of the road, yet the results weren’t there (probably for a whole heap of reasons). If you think they were, you’re deluded.

  • Peter Clifford

    great article and a great insight. I am also involved in this process in my sport and camps are a proven method of selection. If this is a stepping stone to a future and even better way then it was a success.

  • Señor Burns

    Let’s see in 5 years how many champions this process produces. Null hypothesis is of course none, as personally I agree with a comment below that suggests this may produce great racers, or solid professionals, but no great riders. As Seymour Skinner once said “prove me wrong children, prove me wrong”.

  • Derek Maher

    I guess time will tell regarding getting some ladies to the top of their sport with this innovation.
    I just hope the girls who are let go from the course dont get to depressed with the whole business and pack in.

    • Robert Merkel

      To be fair to Barras and the AIS, all the articles and comments from riders who have participated (and didn’t succeed) on here and elsewhere I’ve read have been surprisingly positive about the experience.

      However, if a rider was peeved about the process, their opportunity to say so publicly is limited by the fact that the people that run the camp are so closely tied with Orica-AIS, Wiggle-Honda, and the national team selection.

      FWIW, I don’t think Chloe Hosking is the only current or former elite rider with reservations about both the selection camp and more broadly the way the women’s program is run.

  • Tim Johnson

    On all the articles about this program on Ella/CyclingTips, most of the comments arguing against it seem to boil down to something along the lines that it won’t really pick a champion, and that the best riders in the world or that Australia has produced haven’t gone through a program like this. That may well be true, but effectively that’s an argument against the AIS model itself, rather than against its selection methods.

    But if you assume that we want an AIS program to support women’s cycling at all, then something like this is effectively essential. As a public servant, I can well understand the issue facing the AIS: you have a limited bucket of public money and you have to decide how to maximise it. How do you do that?

    And the best answer is: you look at the data. You look at the data about that it takes to make it in the pro-peloton and you evaluate your previous programs to find out why they haven’t been successful in producing riders (or racers, to adopt Martin’s terminology) who could make it stick over in Europe. And that’s what this approach seems to be doing. It may not be perfect, but it certainly seems to be a data-driven and appropriate approach to spending the very limited bucket of public money that is available to support women’s cycling at the AIS. Sure, in the future they may change tack. They may evaluate this and figure out why it didn’t work and completely change tack and hopefully that too will be an evidence-driven approach that takes into account the factors that make such a program work and eliminates the methods that don’t work.

    Or, of course, another answer might be that no AIS program will ever be effective, in which case we should abandon it altogether. That would also depend on the aims of the program, which isn’t really spelt out in any of these articles: is the aim to find the next world champion or Olympic gold medalist, or just to field a team of Australians who are well above average and can mix it up at the higher levels of the pro ranks? I’m still not clear on what the ultimate aim is even after reading all these articles.

    • Robert Merkel

      The aim of the AIS is Olympic medals and world championships. Nothing else matters; not Tour (or Giro Rosa) wins, not participation levels, nothing.

      Which is, incidentally, why we throw millions at track cycling and SFA at MTB despite far more participants in MTB disciplines.

      • Derek Maher

        You raise a valid point regarding the focus of these training courses Robert.
        To my mind the Olympics is the last target a roadracer should have in their mind if they want to be a success as a pro roadracer.
        To many people in management of national teams are still stuck in amatuer mode.

        • Dave

          The point is that those who sign the cheques – the Australian Sports Commission – will direct the money to where they’ll get the ROI they are looking for.

          If you disagree, you can always start up a team (or sponsor an existing one) aimed at developing riders for the big races contested by private sector teams.

  • Mad Panda

    Big Kev has a point. One cannot deny the innovation though. If its never been done before – maybe give it a crack! These are desperate times. Cycling, as a sport in Australia couldn’t have done better at complete self destruction over the last 6 or so years. Womens cycling in particular, with major funding cuts, has to (without CA’s clumsy input) lift its profile. I’m very suspicious of anything with a military basis to its thinking, but willing to concede that an innovative – never been done thing – might be worth a try.

  • At first glance this selection process seems very extreme but we must remember that everyone is there under their own free will!
    I personally find it inspiring to see and hear about girls who are really pushing themselves to achieve and get what they want out of life. It has certainly given me the drive to train harder and this weekend’s regional championships I will hold their dedication in front of me when my legs are tired and my will power starts to waver.

    • Derek Maher

      Best of luck Alice,Stay out of the wind as much as possible.


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