Aussie Graeme Brown has the legs and the heart to win bunch sprints in any peloton. So why have his fans had to endure such frustration following his career, asks Michael Tomalaris.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Australian cyclists have won the accolades of Europeans fans since the arrival of Phil Anderson in the early 1980s.

To leave behind a wonderful lifestyle and pursue a professional career on the other side of the world, as many Aussie riders have done, has always been a source of admiration for Europe's cycling fraternity.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise to read harsh criticism of the performance of Graeme Brown at this year's Giro by none other than his own team director Erik Bruekink.

Rabobank's boss was scathing in his public outburst of his Australian sprinter who has been disappointing - his best finish in the bunch sprints has been no better than 14th in stage nine.

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Brown's hard-luck has been hampered by crashes he's been involved in since the sprints of Sicily two weeks ago.
But I must confess as one of his long-time admirers, and one who has followed his career since the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic during the mid-late 1990s, I've also been a left a little frustrated by the failure to challenge his elite rivals.
When you think of sprinters in cycling you generally think of the likes of Hushovd, Pettachi, McEwen, Zabel, Bennati and more recently, Cavendish.
Unfortunately Brown doesn't make the list.
Shame really because he was taught by the best in NSWIS mentor Gary Sutton who has nurtured his pupil from a very young age.
When Brown first moved to Rabobank in 2002, it appeared he would make a fist of his new life on the pro-circuit.
The impact he made in the Giro in his debut appearance that year was remarkable.
He challenged Mario Cipollini more than once in the first week of racing.
The duels between he and McEwen at the Tour Down Under, around the same time, are legendary.
But it's been hard yakka for the Sydneysider ever since.
To stay as long as he has at Rabobank - Brown has done very well.
His selection to race this Giro was on the strength of his victory in the Tour of Murcia earlier in the year.
He has never competed in the Tour de France and isn't likely to either given his boss's latest criticisms.
Thankfully, Brown will probably be remembered as a better track champion than a rider who ruled the roads - his dual Olympic gold medals on the velodrome at the Athens Games is testament to that.
There's every chance he'll enjoy more Olympic success in Beijing when he's lilkely to represent Australia in the team pursuit.
Will he stay in Europe as professional?
More than likely as he has much to offer and has the top-end power that can win big races on any given day.
As for signing another contract with Rabobank, I'd be very surprised if he's wearing the famous colours after the end of this season.