New Zealand's most experienced and successful road cyclist, Julian Dean, has hit out at Bike NZ's selections for the Olympic Games.
The selectors chose yesterday to overlook Dean and Canterbury's Hayden Roulston for the men's road race, which is on July 28, and instead go with Greg Henderson and Jack Bauer.
Dean had been in a race against time to be ready for the Olympics after breaking his leg in the Tour of Catalunya in March.
He believes he would have been ready for the Olympics and is scheduled to ride the Tour of Poland in a fortnight's time, a race many of the other leading riders for the London Games will be at.
But Dean and Roulston's selection battles were not helped by the fact that Bike NZ has said that those riders who will be at the Tour de France will have an advantage over those who won't.
Henderson will start in his first Tour de France on Saturday night and although Bauer isn't in that event, he did complete the Tour of Italy in May.
"I understand Bike NZ's point of view in not selecting me, but I do struggle with the selection criteria they used. For example, going to the Tour de France," Dean said from Spain.
"A lot of the other favourites for the Olympics aren't riding the tour and I can guarantee you that all of the Olympic contenders at the tour will only be riding two weeks of it.
"Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Oscar Freire, those sorts of guys won't ride more than two weeks so that they can prepare for the Olympics."
Last week Henderson told Fairfax Media he intended to ride the whole of the Tour de France, where he'll be the lead-out man for his team's sprinter, Andre Greipel. When informed of this, Dean said: "His commitment to the Olympics probably isn't 100 per cent.
"They have got no experience between them, either," he said. "I thought they might have gone with someone with more experience; neither of them have ever ridden an Olympic Games road race.
"They have got no results in big one-day races between them, either.
"The Olympics is a very different race, too. Because there is only a maximum of five riders per country, you've got to know how to race in that. It has a really different feel to what we normally do."
Dean's broken leg always meant it was going to be a battle to persuade the selectors that he should go, but Roulston's omission is more of a surprise. Although he has been ill this year and narrowly missed out on a spot at Le Tour for his RadioShack Nissan Trek team, he has consistently been a strong rider in one-day races.
"I would have thought that Hayden would have gone. He has certainly got more experience than Jack," Dean said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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