Based on the dubious form of Australia’s best hope for a medal, Anthony Tan already wonders if the decision to exclude Mark Renshaw will be one that will keep selectors awake at night long into the future.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


Regrets keep me up at night so I do everything not to have them. Asked by Tour of Britain host Ned Boulting how he thought Mark Renshaw
would fare next year at Rabobank, Mark Cavendish replied with a grin:
"He's going to have to get used to coming second..."

On the final
stage of the race in Dumfries, and with the help of Renshaw once again,
the Manx Express notched his second win Sunday; the boy from Bathurst
did indeed finish second, but for obvious reasons.

It may well be the last time the pair ride together as team-mates.

You
have to hand it to Renshaw, who, a month shy of his 29th birthday, has
decided to go for broke and take on a mercurial talent many regard as
unbeatable when he's on song.

Being paired with someone almost
everyone regards as the world's finest lead-out man has much to do with
Cav's truckload of wins the past three years. But what I'm readily
awaiting is not just how Renshaw will fare against Cavendish, but how
much Cavendish will miss Renshaw, to better understand just how
influential the latter was.

Will Cavendish be as prolific? Will he be as fast? Or will Renshaw, Greipel, Farrar et al be faster?

Renshaw,
courtesy of his omission from the Australian men's road team to contest
the world championships this coming Sunday, has already set the 2012
Tour Down Under as a target. My feeling is that it will take him a while
to get going; to become accustomed to being a leader, and get his
sprint train sorted.

* * *

So much has already been said
on the subject of his elision by the selectors – namely, Kevin Tabotta,
Matt White, Rik Fulcher and Brian Stephens. But the subject is far from
being trite.

For many including myself, it was an oversight so
egregious, it's worth asking whether a completely independent panel
should be created, so that in future, we can all be assured no trade
team interests came into play.

If such a panel were to exist, one person I'd like to see on there is former professional Stephen Hodge.

An
upstanding citizen of the Australian cycling community and board member
of Cycling Australia since 1999, Hodge currently holds one of three
vice-presidential roles at CA (below president Klaus Mueller and senior
vice president Mark Fulcher), and sits on their high performance
management committee.

Another is Phil Anderson. While he may not
have won a road world championship, I'm sure Anderson, the first
non-European to wear the Tour de France maillot jaune and
arguably Australia's finest one-day rider, has the experience and
intuition to know what it would take to win the Worlds, and the best
composition of riders to advance such an objective.

A member – or
two – of the selection panel not part of Cycling Australia? I think
that would be a good thing, simply because the man behind CA's main
sponsor, Jayco Caravans – Gerry Ryan – is also the primary benefactor of
the GreenEDGE project.

* * *

I would also like to see
more transparency among the selection panel; if not for the
media/general public then at least for the riders themselves, so those
left out – as well as those chosen – can be guaranteed the decision
making process is not just objective, but completely thorough.

For
example, does each of the four panel members carry equal weight with
regard to their choices, and in terms of the selection process, what
sort of structure – if any – do they follow?

Renshaw told RIDE Cycling Review's
publisher, Rob Arnold, last week: "To tell you the truth I don't know
the exact roles of everyone in the selection criteria, and I'll be
sending some emails around [to] ask for some clarification on who is
picking the team and why it's been picked like it has been.

"I'll
see what they have to say," he said. "Basically I'd like to know who is
making the decisions and maybe ask them personally why they haven't
given me a shot."

Asked how keen he was to ride, Renshaw said
that over the past two months, he chased up CA officials and made
"numerous calls" to discuss the topic because "I already had the feeling
that they weren't confident or really didn't want to take me".

* * *

As
for Australia's main man to get the job done, Matt Goss, whose last
victory was on 22 May at the Tour of California, White said he would
have to "show a little bit in one of these races on Friday or Sunday,"
referring last week's Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen and Grand Prix
d'Isbergues, "just because he needs that confidence back in himself.

"[Goss] needs to show the team that if we're going to put a team around him on Sunday week, that he's back," said White.

Well,
Friday at the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, Robbie McEwen – like
Renshaw, on the 'long-list', but another exclusion from the nine-man
squad to contest the Worlds – was our best-place finisher in the 196
kilometre race, placing fourth to winner, German Marcel Kittel. Goss was
126th, 3:09 back.

Sunday at the GP Isbergues, Stuart O'Grady
demonstrated that finishing the Vuelta has put him in good nick, where
30km from the finish of the 204km race, he eventually found himself in a
two-man break with Dane Jonas Aaen Jorgensen from Saxo Bank-SunGard,
only to fall victim to a flat tire and cramps at the end. Goss was a
DNF; Baden Cooke was the only other Aussie to finish, 83rd @ 0'53.

It
could well be Plan B, then: Simon Gerrans or Heinrich Haussler, who
last saw the podium on 9 February, when he won the third stage of the
Tour of Qatar.

It's unlikely our other fast finisher, Stage 2
Vuelta a España winner Chris Sutton, has the physical maturity to be
there in the final of a road world championship – and O'Grady is
supposed to be captain rather than leader – meaning there is no Plan C.

I
keep wondering whether the omission of Renshaw, McEwen and Michael
Matthews will be a decision that will keep our selectors awake at night
long into the future.

A week from now, we'll know the answer.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan