Posted by Editoress on 06/16/08
Olympic Men's Road Selection - One Fan's Opinion
i>by Matt Hansen
So who's going to Beijing?
It will not be long before we all find out,but in the meantime, rumours are flying about the men's selection. In fact, all Spring, riders and followers have wondered who will be chosen to fill the 3-man roster that will carry the colours of Canada.
The long list was always, in most people's minds, comprised of the following:
Michael Barry, Ryder Hesjedal, Charles Dionne, Andrew Pinfold, Andrew Randell, Cam Evans, Christian Meier, Svein Tuft, Francois Parisien and Dom Rollin
Now comes the time when some riders are self-promoting, some riders allow their teams to do that for them, and some riders just ride. I read on the Forum that someone wondered why Michael Barry would still be in the running for the Olympics, what with some of the domestic riders scoring so well.
I'm hoping that the selection criteria knows and sees what I know. Barry is not only a ProTour rider - something that cannot be said of any other cyclist in Canada, but a good one. Last time at the Olympics, he even soloed ahead of the field in the final closing kilometres, on a hot, sweltering tough day, only to be caught metres before the line; he just missed fourth.
Barry - the rider who's raced several Vueltas, Giros, and possibly the Tour. A rider who has won few top ProTour-level races - don't forget his Tour of Austria win a few years ago - but has consistently finished in the top 20-30 in one days, stage races, the works. Not many Canadians can, or have, done the same.
After an injury-stricken race last year, Barry has shown that his form is back. Here's a rider who is known as an unselfish workhorse - he's thought of as a Sean Yates, who is always reliable and ready to help the squad. At the Dauphine Libere, he rode tirelessly for his High Road team, and still finished in the top-40 against finely tuned stage racers who are prepped for the Tour de France.
So, remember ... he's one of the few Canucks who's truly racing at the top, and racing well. The results never tell the full story, but ask any Euro who Michael Barry is, and they will say he's one of the stronger riders in the peloton. That means, when he is allowed to ride for himself, watch out.
Did you see any other Canadian attack off the front of the peloton in the final laps of the World Championships in 2003? Did you see any other Canadian create the final move? It's a completely different ball game, bike racing, after 250 km.
Next up. Surely Ryder Hesjedal must be factored into the mix. The current TT champ and Slipstream star has ridden consistently well this spring, and has become a well-known rider in Europe on the road after his MTB career.
Will he work well with the others? Ryder has gained a reputation in Europe as being a bit of a one-man show, but here's hoping he can focus on the team as a whole, and work together well with his other Canadian team mates for a good showing.
If Ryder gets selected for the TT as well - and it's highly possible he will - watch out for a good ride too. Ryder, like Barry, is also used to the longer Euro races. He knows the difference between 200 km and 260 km. These two riders have something that the third rider on the team does not. And the third rider (whoever it is) on the team is hardly a slouch - he just doesn't race the full Euro calendar - which is something that both Barry and Hesjedal have done for several years.
So, the third and final spot. In my opinion, it will come down to Rollin or Tuft. Maybe Parisien - who, through the media, has suddenly made himself more of a favourite than he possibly deserves. (No offense, Frank.) But, all in all, it should come down to Rollin or Tuft. Rollin is a good choice because he will satiate the Province of Quebec supporters on the selections committee. But, thankfully and more importantly, he's a damn good bike racer. Rollin has come into his own on the Toyota United team and is one of Canada's most promising riders for the future. He's fast on the hills, in the TT, and has a great kick at the end.
And what of Tuft? Here's the guy who actually earned Canada the final spot. Don't forget, the Olympic selection is also based on 2007. He was the first Canadian to ever win the UCI America Tour. And he showed his one-day prowess with the US Open win. He's a humble guy too - when asked in Beauce if he was worried about Olympic selection, he shrugged it off and just said he was here to win in Quebec. Surely his win at Beauce must be what he needs to guarantee selection over Rollin. But stranger things have happened.
If the selection is not Barry, Hesjedal, Tuft, then as a Canadian fan, I'd be pretty disappointed, when the team is announced.
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