Colliding Interests?

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By now you will have heard Australia’s final roster for the World Championships in Copenhagen this weekend. Matt White (Professional Men’s Road Coordinator for our High Performance Program) was responsible for the selection and couldn’t have dreamed for a better pool of Aussie riders to pick from. With the firepower that Australia has, we have a good shot of winning the rainbow jersey.

There is one noticeable absentee on this list though: Mark Renshaw. The best and most consistent leadout man on Earth. Why would he have been left out?

Do I sense a bit of sarcasm?

This is where I begin to wonder if our national ambitions collide with trade team interests. It’s no secret that there’s a close relationship between Cycling Australia and GreenEDGE. Of course GreenEDGE wants to wear the rainbow stripes in 2012. Who doesn’t? I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Matt White and Neil Stephens talk about things such as the World Champs roster since Stephens previously held the same position.

In this article White justifies Renshaw’s exclusion from the team because of his concerns about his ability to be there at the end of the 266km and that a grand tour is different from a one-day race.

“I picked a team that best suits the characteristics of a world championships and on this course and I’m pretty confident with that,”

“It’s a big consideration I’ve taken into account for all the nine and getting the job done with that nine, is definitely the distance.”

By the same logic, if Renshaw can’t finish off 266km’s then Cavendish shouldn’t be able to either (since Renshaw is responsible for most of Cav’s wins) and a completely different type of rider will win this race. Sure, anything can happen in bike racing, but most nations are building their teams around the assumption that this will come down to a sprint finish and Cavendish is one of the favorites.

This doesn’t make sense. There is less than 200m 105m of climbing per lap (1700m total over 266km – remember, that’s much different that 1700m over 100km). It basically flat and if Renshaw can’t hide in a bunch saving himself for Gossy for 265.5kms, then he should be back here racing with us at O2 instead of leading Rabobank next season. If the strategy is to win with a sprinter (i.e. Goss), then selecting the best lead out man in the world is an obvious choice.

But just hold on a second. Could Renshaw perhaps, maybe, be capable of winning the World Championships for himself? Is that a worry for GreenEDGE? Would we want to chance the jersey being worn by a Rabobank rider? With Renshaw’s exclusion, Gossy is the only one named on Australia’s World Champs roster who is realistically capable of winning if the finish comes down to a bunch kick. Has the team been picked to ensure that a GreenEDGE rider is the undisputed leader of the team? Okay, it’s maybe a stretch to say that. I don’t think Renshaw’s loyalty can be questioned, but he certainly has the ability to throw the leadership into question.

Elite Men Road Race Team:

Matthew GOSS GreenEDGE
Heinrich HAUSSLER Garmin Cervelo
Mathew HAYMAN Team Sky
Michael ROGERS Team Sky
Chris SUTTON Team Sky

* Adam Hansen
* Mark Renshaw

We already know that Renshaw was in talks with GreenEDGE but it didn’t come to fruition. To me, Renshaw’s exclusion from the Worlds team sounds like sour grapes and I hope we’re not beginning to see a pattern of favortism and politics being played by GreenEDGE and CA.

I have to ask the question: Would Renshaw have been picked for the World’s team if he had been signed by GreenEDGE?

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