Rachel Neylan has refrained from criticizing Cycling Australia after a successful appeal to compete at the UCI Road World Championships.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
15 Sep 2017 - 1:13 PM 

Neylan and sprinter Chloe Hosking this week won an appeal to compete at the titles in Bergen, Norway, a board decision that effectively defied a revised high-performance strategy new director Simon Jones has outlined.

“I stuck up for what I believed in. It was important for me to do it respectfully and with dignity toward Cycling Australia,” Neylan said from Lucca, Italy.

“I started my season late, which meant that it was challenging to get runs on the board earlier for selection.

“The last month I’ve proven that I’m in good condition. My performances in stage three of the Tour of Norway and Plouay were positive signs that my form is there; That coupled with my capability and strengths as a rider suit the course, which entails 2000 metres of climbing and 150km.”

The 2017 UCI Road World Championships will be held in Bergen, Norway from 167-24 September and will be broadcast on SBS Viceland and streamed online.

Cycling Australia initially announced a five-rider squad for the women’s road race, two places short of the seven it had qualified for.

Speaking to Cycling Central before the initial selection announcement, Jones openly stated that may be the case, adding it was part of a broader strategy designed to return the nation to gold medal glory that it has stopped short of when it counts - in Olympic years.

The decision nevertheless sparked uproar with Hosking accusing Cycling Australia of issuing a gag order on riders that were selected, and other pundits going so far as to label the move “sexist”.

According to Jones, Australia doesn’t have an obvious gold medal contender for the women’s road race. The Englishman also firmly believes that on the Bergen course, and at road world titles in general, man power isn’t always imperative to a result.

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However, Neylan has countered that Australia’s women’s road race squad “can challenge for gold” in Norway, especially now with a full complement of riders.

“I wouldn’t have stood-up … with the [appeal] action I took last week if I didn’t believe a seven-rider outfit wasn’t going to be in our favour,” she said.

“With a full seven rider line-up now we definitely have some strong cards to play. I’m excited and ready to put my best foot forward in a support role.

“With that amount of accumulative altitude metres, the technical aspects and also the fact it’s a World Championships, so people have designated roles and clear objectives, it all points in the direction of it being quite a selective race.”

The 35-year-old on Thursday was diplomatic and generally avoided speaking about politics, instead focused on her form and the imminent job at hand. The former world champion silver medalist is due to join the national team on Tuesday, ahead of next Saturday’s 152.8km title event that the Dutch and Great Britain are favoured for.

“I’m committed, ready and focused to give everything as I always do for this team,” she said.

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