Australia finished equal third with Germany on the medal tally at the recent UCI Road World Championships in what was an indication that the shake-up spearheaded by high-performance director Simon Jones has merit.
Rohan Dennis won gold in the elite men’s time trial, Amanda Spratt claimed silver in the elite women’s road race while Lucas Plapp finished second in the junior men’s time trial.
The results were certainly cause for celebration but McGee, who was in Yorkshire, England days later to inspect courses for the 2019 titles, was measured in his overall assessment.
“We could have done better, things we will improve on. Happy? Maybe. There’s work to be done,” the road technical director said. “As far as the Australian side of things go we can come out with our heads high, we flew the flag really well. In general, we achieved on par if not a bit more of what was likely, and what the goals were.”
Dennis finished top 10 in four consecutive time trial World Championships before he cracked the podium last month in what was an all-or-nothing effort.
“No one has ever had a doubt that Rohan would one day stand on top of the podium for TT and most people inside the camp realised it wouldn’t be getting a medal, the next step was winning,” McGee said.
“Amanda had her hand up for this one a long time ago – as soon as the course was released. That was only strengthened and encouraged through the season with her performances. It was never in doubt that this was a big one for the year and she really backed herself, stood up and said I’m ready to perform,” he continued.
Australia in recent times has led the charge through Olympic cycles but fallen short on the fourth and final year when its counted. Jones’s initial reforms in regard to team selection were met with hostility last year but now seem to have been accepted.
The appointment of Richie Porte as leader of the men’s road team for the World Championships albeit went against a pre-planned and ruthless approach the body has adopted. Porte, not originally on the long list, was added as designated leader after crashing out of the Tour de France. He withdrew before the titles due to illness.
“I stepped off the plane from Australia to Europe with a message from Richie to please call. Over the next couple of days, it became evident it was all over. Richie removed himself from the team and we were a week out from Worlds. It’s not ideal,” McGee said. “Guys like Richie aren’t replaceable. There was no question that he needed to pull himself out.”
Cycling Australia management is due to properly debrief on the World Championships this week, with Yorkshire and Tokyo 2020 close to the forefront of minds.
McGee spent two days in Yorkshire with logistics manager Rik Fulcher last week, taking notes.
“It’s really valuable, I pretty much lock it in every year now,” he said of the recon. “I’m not giving too much away. The organisers have obviously undertaken a set of courses that will reflect the tough and hardy nature of Yorkshire. Let’s just leave it there.”
In this special edition of the Zwift Cycling Central Podcast, Sophie Smith and Christophe Mallet speak to World Championship silver medal winner Amanda Spratt.