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The wait is over. Cycling Australia today announced its final roster for the Olympic Games in Rio next month, revealing its women’s road team after a failed appeal.
The women’s road squad will be led by national road race champion Amanda Spratt who will be joined by her Orica-AIS teammates Gracie Elvin and Rachel Neylan. Rounding out the team is Katrin Garfoot, Australian time trial champion and fourth place finisher in the time trial at the 2016 World Championships, who will represent Australia in the race against the clock.
The Aussie quartet have high hopes for a podium finish in the hilly 130 kilometre road race and the time trial.
“I believe we have a strong, smart and committed team capable of a medal if we race with smart tactics,” said Neylan, who will be making her Olympic debut, along with Garfoot and Elvin.
Australia is one of only three countries with multiple Olympic champions in women’s road cycling, which was introduced to the Olympics in 1984. Kathryn Watt won gold in 1992 and Sara Carrigan in 2004.
While the Australian track, BMX and men’s road teams were announced earlier this week, Cycling Australia delayed the announcement of the women’s road team until an appeal was settled. A Cycling Australia spokesperson said that they would not be commenting on who launched the appeal.
Four-time Australian national time trial champion and 2012 Olympian Shara Gillow along with Canyon-SRAM’s Tiffany Cromwell are two of the notable riders who missed out. Cromwell may be disappointed, but she certainly will not be surprised.
“I know how my season has gone, and the [Australian] girls have really stepped up this year,” she told Ella CyclingTips last week. “It’s a credit to them that the selection will be tough. We have seen a lot of great performances and it’s good to see. It’s a reflection of our world ranking and there are a lot of other deserving athletes, too.”
Cromwell has been outspoken about her Olympic goals ever since she narrowly missed the Olympics selection for London 2012 games. She even attended the official Olympic road cycling test event last year to scope out the courses in Rio. She’s disappointed, but not heart broken. “It’s not the end of the world…It’s still a long season; there is still a rainbow jersey at the end of the year and other goals to strive for.”
“Rio obviously was a big goal of mine but I’m in a much better frame of mind than I was earlier in the year,” she said.
The formulation of multi-level team selection process began two years ago and is anchored around one key objective – the demonstrated potential to win medals for Australia.
“It is a very involved process for an Olympic campaign, across five selection panels and a nominations committee over weeks of meetings and performance analysis to make the decisions and get our team down to the final names,” said Kevin Tabotta, Cycling Australia’s National Performance Director and Chair of the Selection Committee.
“Selectors take their role very seriously. They are acutely aware how important it is to the athletes that these decisions are made with the fullest consideration and rigour.”
In determining an athlete’s selection to the team, the selection panels applied the published criteria, which considered the level of a performance, the level of competition it was achieved in, the athlete’s consistency, field depth, course suitability, athlete’s potential and progression rates within a time period spanning nearly 18 months.
“We started with broad shadow team, but as we moved through the selection period, a number of athletes really stepped it up and put their hand up for selection with world-class performances,” added Tabotta.
“Of course, there will be heartbreak for some, that’s a natural consequence of the process. There a number of excellent athletes that won’t make the plane to Rio yet many have played such a critical role for Australia in camps and competitions, helping get the final team to the line in Rio and we acknowledge them on this important day.”
Come August, the yellow-and-green squad will be headlined by dual Olympic gold medallist and flag bearer Anna Meares who will become just the third female cyclist in Olympic history to compete in four Games on the track.
2016 Australian Olympic Cycling Team
Katrin Garfoot – Time Trial
Ashlee Ankudinoff – Women Team Pursuit Debut
Georgia Baker – Women Team Pursuit Debut
Amy Cure – Women Team Pursuit 2nd Games
Annette Edmondson – Women Omnium & Team Pursuit 2nd Games
Melissa Hoskins – Women Team Pursuit 2nd Games
Anna Meares – Women Sprint, Keirin and Team Sprint 4th Games
Stephanie Morton – Women Sprint, Keirin and Team Sprint Debut