McEwen pleased with nationals development

Two-time national champ backs Aussie-only race

Robbie McEwen has expressed his satisfaction with the decision by Columbia-HTC directeur sportif Allan Peiper not to enter German riders André Greipel and Bert Grabsch in next weekend's Scody Australian Open Road Championships.

Championships director John Craven advised Cyclingnews that Greipel and Grabsch were not entered into the men's road race due to contractual obligations with Santos Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur. Those arrangements stipulate that riders can't compete in races other than the one they have been flown to Australia in which to participate - namely, the Santos Tour Down Under.

McEwen had earlier stated that he believes the decision to enter foreign riders in the men's national championship road race was a poor one, and called on organisers to rectify the situation. He told Cyclingnews recently: "I have had support from riders, team directors and coaching staff who are also 100 percent for an Aussie only title race.

He won the 1995 Australian open professional title as an amateur before taking the national champ's jersey in 2002 and '05. He recently made his comeback at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, with a view to performing well in this month's Santos Tour Down Under.

The announcement by Columbia-HTC management to include Greipel and Grabsch was designed to aid the team's experienced Australian, Michael Rogers, in his bid to take the road race national championship after winning the national time trial title in 2009.

It was met with criticism from McEwen who said late last month, "I just find it so disappointing that our federation finds it necessary to include foreigners in our national championship who can and will change the course of the race, thus influencing [for better or worse] the result."

The decision not to enter the powerful German duo opens up the field for the showcase event, which boasts a multitude of possible winners, including Rogers and McEwen, plus European professionals Allan Davis, Matt Goss, Baden Cooke and Leigh Howard.

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