Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Tom Palmer

Road, AUS, Tom Palmer, Drapac, doping, drugs
Tom Palmer won the final stage of the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic in January (Adrian Rumney)

With last week’s sport headlines it appears the Australian community is set to join battle-hardened cycling fans in the trenches in the war against doping.

Fans of cycling can take heart knowing we are closer to a new era of clean, credible sport than those who are only now being pushed by legislators to begin the task of eradicating dopers.

Armstrong mania, once the sport’s greatest asset, has turned toxic. But one bloke’s stain on the sport’s reputation is not irreversible. Everyone is replaceable and Australia is producing the best alternatives.

Australia harbors a surging current of awesome bike riders. Every year our talent travels the world in droves searching for races to win, and win they do. If you want to see the future look at young rider classifications of pro races, results of UCI semi-pro races, under-23 and under-19 world championship podiums and WorldTour feeder teams, and what you will see is Aussie lads and ladies quietly killing it on the world stage. This is a generation of talented and diverse bike riders, thrashing their way across the globe, leaving a trail of spectacular, clean wins and stories to boot.

We’ve also given birth to the next generation of global and local racing. In Asia and the Americas organisers are struggling to emulate the success of our Santos Tour Down Under. The resurrection of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour this year also signifies the consolidation of an Aussie season of cycling. This summer season roused us riders and hopefully fans alike to the conviction that Australia has a racing culture and tradition that runs far deeper than the TDU.

Despite our geographic handicap we have perhaps the most exciting new teams in the world. Globally, there is a new generation backed by innovation and modern global values. In the WorldTour Orica-GreenEDGE is riding the front of that wave. Further down the ladder it is followed by an exploding number of ambitious squads back home. 

When it comes to the future of cycling, Australians have a lot to look forward to. We should not mourn the loss of the dinosaurs of the cycling world, instead observe, learn from them and move past them and their mistakes. Take a moment to watch the new talent budding and sprouting, chiefly from Australian soil.

This January I saw firsthand the Australian cycling rebirth. Opening the year was the Mitchelton Bay Criterium Series, where I watched 19-year-old Caleb Ewan claim the country’s biggest pro scalps. Follow that with the Sun Tour where the Australian domestic racing scene stood up and beat its chest. With kids on the top step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Garmin-Sharp, Lotto-Belisol and Saxo-Tinkoff superstars were relegated to the minor placings by the domestic National Road Series teams.

At the road national championships I saw GreenEDGE at its best, producing some of the youngest ever national champions. Domestic Aussie racing in January was a foreshadowing of the future of cycling.

As last week's news shows, we shouldn’t fear the short-term consequences of scandal, rather the long-term consequences of inaction. Reform will create the credibility our generation needs and as those rusty wheels of change turn, Australia is first in line to benefit.

We are poised, ready to reign in the new era. In my blog I hope to portray the emergence of the sport’s future, from the (Australian) ground up to the Tour de France. Follow me as I follow the other burgeoning Aussie riders, teams and races.

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