As one of the top-ranked nations in the World, Australia was afforded a full quota of seven riders for the women's race. However, Cycling Australia's head performance, Simon Jones, has chosen to select just five riders and has also not selected Australia's top-ranked rider this year, Chloe Hosking. The rider is currently appealing that decision, but the call to not fill the quota of riders has led to criticism. Two-time national champion, Kimberly Well's called it 'high sexist', comparing the decision with the fact that the men's allocation of nine has been met.
Cromwell, who has raced in the green and gold at several World Championships and at the Commonwealth refrained from labelling the decision as outright sexist but did raise concerns over the management at Cycling Australia, their lack of communication with female riders and their commitment to women's cycling in general. Cromwell was left out of the five-women team but added that she had no problems with the riders who were chosen ahead of her.
"It wasn't a surprise at all because there had been some information floating around that as part of the new structure at Cycling Australia they would send a smaller team," she told Cyclingnews after wrapping up her season last week.
"We've been threatened with it before due to poor performances but they've always gone and taken full teams in the end. This year the threat seemed more serious and I know that after Plouay that the team would probably be smaller."
"I was a little disappointed not to be picked, if I'm honest. I knew it was going to be hard to make the team if they only took five because the start of the season wasn't great for me. It took a while before I started coming up and getting results. I also know that the team jersey that I wear makes it a bit more challenging to make the team these days but I think I've developed my form and showed that in several races. Everyone who has been selected deserves their spot, but the whole situation is frustrating in terms of Cycling Australia's outlook on things."
Cycling Australia has yet to comment on the allegation of sexism and they will hear Hosking's appeal on Tuesday. For Cromwell, who admits that she had no communication with Jones all year until finding out she wasn't selected, the issue centres around staff-athlete channels of communication and possible mismanagement.
"I don't know if sexism is the right term for it. From the women's side I've had very little communication from the women's coach," she said.
"I've not spoken to Simon Jones since he's come in at the start of the year. I know that this is a hard subject. I think it's more miss management than sexist but do I feel like they believe in the women's road programme? No I don't. I know now that it's all about track. It's all about medals and the most available come from the track. Do we still deserve support, yes but I don't think it's there. Not when you see the loss of the development pathways, and not when you think about how they're going to develop a future crop of riders once we all retire."
And for Cromwell, another issue lies in strategy and simple numbers on the road. As a veteran of several World Championships, she has seen how numbers on the ground can help and harm a nation's chances of picking up a medal. She believes that more than the chosen five had done enough to earn a spot in this year's race.
"I think across the board we've stepped up and in the right race, I think we can do something. Are we an outright favourite for the rainbow jersey? no, but can we do something if we had numbers to play with, yes? We've shown that in the races we've done when going up against the likes of the Dutch and the Italians. I've done races this year when we've not had a full team and I can tell you first hand how much harder it is to play against full teams when you don't have the cards to play. Cycling Australia say that winning is about performance but to play to our strengths, you need numbers."
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