By Paul Verkuylen
The Australian road and time trial candidates came one step closer to realising their Olympic dreams today, as they were each measured up and fitted for clothing, asked all the important questions like what their favorite colours are and the music that they most listen too, for their athlete bio, of course.
Each rider was fitted for casual, formal and competitive wear, but the actual designs were no where to be seen as they tried on Adidas clothing adorned with the British national squads design. All the necessary paper work was completed and signed, while they watched a DVD of the course profile.
Although none of the riders are assured a place on the squad, and indeed more riders can be added if they meet the selection criteria and are considered a chance by selectors, each has a realistic chance of making the team. The next six months are all important as the Olympics squad will be selected by the July 4.
In total, there are five places available for the men's road race and three for the women, meaning that places on the squad will be hard fought and should see Australia line up with one of the strongest road teams yet.
Shayne Bannan, Australia's head coach, believes that the course for the Games plays into the strengths of the Australian squad and seemed confident of a strong performance. "If the course was similar to the Sydney Olympics, we would struggle to field a competitive team, but I think that the type of course that is in Beijing we will be around the mark," he said.
The riders also benefited from medical testing as well as a briefing relating to the particular challenges involved in competing in the Beijing summer. "There is no doubt our cyclists in Beijing will face challenges as far as air quality, heat and humidity and general traveller's health," said Cycling Australia Team Doctor, Mark Fisher. "We don't want to alarm the athletes but we strongly believe the more prepared they are for the challenges, the better they will perform. We also want to ensure we identify well in advance any respiratory problems that might be aggravated by the air quality in Beijing so we can provide the appropriate support."
Tour de France runner-up and 2007 ProTour Champion, Cadel Evans, has already experienced racing in Beijing in August after winning the time trial at last year's test event.
"There is really not much you can do to combat the heat and humidity but we will be preparing in the European summer so that will help," said Evans, who will race the Tour de France that finishes two weeks before the first Olympic Games road cycling event. "It's a case of being cautious to make sure you don't get sick and to look after yourself in terms of the way you train and how you recover in the hot, humid conditions."
The shadow squad for the Beijing Olympics include: Alan Davis (Unattached), Ben Day (Toyota-United), Matt Lloyd (Silenc-Lotto), Michael Rogers (Team High Road), Adam Hansen(Team High Road), William Walker (Rabobank), Matt Hayman (Rabobank), Baden Cooke (Barloworld), Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricol), Oenone Wood (Team High Road), Sara Carrigan (Lotto-Belisol), Olivia Gollan (Menikini Gysko), Bridie O'Donnell (Unattached) and Rochelle Gilmore (Menikini Gysko).