Posted by Editoress on 01/20/06
Kris Westwood's comments are in quotations
Kris Westwood, Director of National Programs at the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) spoke with us a few days after the preliminary team was announced for the Commonwealth Games (seeDaily News: January 13th) to discuss the selections and the process used to decide who would be named to the team.
"First of all, it was the High Performance Committee that decided, based on coaches recommendations. If we go through the team, in mountain bike we are allowed up to three riders in each event (men and women), out of our maximum team allotment of 19. We based the decision on medal potential, and decided that we would give three spots to women and two to men.
"We looked at top World Cup performers, for the highest level of competition, so that was Marie-Helene (Premont), Alison (Sydor) and Kiara (Bisaro) for the women, and Geoff (Kabush) and Seamus (McGrath) for the men. Roland (Green) was also included, but of course he retired. When Alison declined, we opted for two (women) athletes."
After Alison declined, why not go to the next rider on the list - Trish Sinclair? Sinclair has not finished in the world Cups at the same level as the other three (with the exception of Mont Ste Anne), but compared to other Commonwealth countries she is certainly competitive?
"The decision was made to opt for top performers, and there is a big gap to the next rider. The rules allow technical assistance between athletes, so we wanted to bring a minimum number (ie, two), but because of the performance gap look at adding to the road athletes instead. It's a juggling exercise ... there's a distant possibility that we could bring in another mountain bike athlete."
"On the road we are allowed a maximum of six athletes each (men and women), and we selected four each. Our priority was to ensure medal chances. Melbourne is relatively flat, so you have to have sprinters available. the ProTour riders (Hesjedal and Barry) are not available, and there is definitely a question mark beside (Charles) Dionne - chances are that Phonak won't allow him to race, so we had to put together a team that would be able to support Gord. If Charles cannot go, then Dominique (Perras) has shown in the past couple of years that he has progressed to the point where he will be a real asset."
"The women's team is straightforward - these are the top women internationally, with the experience and results." (Note: this interview was conducted before the news came out concerning Genevieve Jeanson's positive for EPO and subsequent ban, but Jeanson had already declined - for obvious reasons as it turned out)
"On the track, the three (Team) Sprint athletes have really proven themselves - they qualified for the Worlds and are putting in good times. I think it is realistic to say that we will be competing for the bronze against New Zealand. Mandy (Poitras) and Gina (Grain) have also put in solid performances at the international level. The final selection will come after next weekend, after the (Los Angeles) Track World Cup where, depending on results, we could select two endurance men (Martin Gilbert and/or Zach Bell), or put the spots towards road or mountain."
"Each team was selected with a view towards medals, and I think that all (mountain, road, track) have a realistic chance for medals."
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