By Greg Johnson
Peter McDonald (Drapac Porsche) took his first ride in the Australian National Champion colours on Tuesday, and true to the sport's culture, it was down to the local coffee shop. McDonald was training in his new kit two days after out-sprinting Team Columbia duo Michael Rogers and Adam Hansen to become the 2009 Australian Open Road Champion.
"They gave me the kit so I went out training in the national kit today, which was pretty cool," he said. "It was good going down to the coffee shop."
McDonald is taking the success in his stride. After discovering the sport later in life, the 30-year-old says he's not actively pursuing a ride in Europe for 2010.
"I'm not really thinking down those lines, to tell you the truth, I'm happy with where I am," he said. "I have a business here, so I'm not really looking to move. I'd never say no, but it would have to be a good offer."
McDonald will head to Europe throughout 2009 with Drapac Porsche for a block of racing while based in Belgium. The new champion will then return to racing in the Asia Pacific region for the remainder of 2009.
"We'll head over there for a couple of months, we're trying to get into some races there like the Tour de Wallonie and a few more UCI races which should be cool…and having the jersey won't hurt," said McDonald.
Instead of contesting next week's Tour Down Under as a part of the Uni SA national team, a position that was his for the taking, McDonald will contest New Zealand's Tour of Wellington. It will be the second time in three years Australia's national champion hasn't appeared in the peloton at Tour Down Under. In 2007 the Uni SA team was selected prior to the national championships, including two Drapac Porsche riders Mitch Docker and Rob McLachlan, leaving no spot for their Drapac Porsche teammate and new national champion Darren Lapthorne after he beat the more favoured riders to the title.
McDonald has forgone a spot in the national team in protest that no Australian teams are invited to take part in the ProTour race - despite Continental teams being ineligible for ProTour events under UCI regulations. It's a point that angered Drapac Porsche owner Michael Drapac so much that in 2007 he threatened legal action against the race's organiser.
"The spot was mine for the taking if I wanted it, but the way it works with our team is if you want me to come then you have to bring the whole team, not just me," he said. "The whole team helped me win the race, so there's no way I can accept and the others miss out. They need to bring all of Drapac, which they should have done years ago."
In 2008 the Uni SA slot was awarded to Richie Porte - who had a solid finish in the ProTour event - after Matthew Lloyd won the national championship race. Lloyd was already riding Tour Down Under with his Silence-Lotto, which meant the spot was offered to Porte under revised selection criteria.