Emotions high, and milestones broken, Australian cycling has never been in a better place. But, writes Michael Tomalaris from France, without the endlessly generous support of Gerry Ryan, the rosy picture would look very different.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

Gentle, driven, passionate, and generous beyond belief. Gerry Ryan has been a shining light for Australian cycling for more than two decades, leading the sport from humble beginnings, and cradling careers of its biggest stars. To where we are now, Ryan's influence cannot be understated.

The success enjoyed by the lads at Orica-GreenEDGE in the first week of the Tour de France is just the last chapter in Ryan's long association with the sport. A man who was introduced to bike racing more than 20 years ago, he now reigns supreme as the most powerful, and influential, individual in Australian cycling. Sorry Klaus Mueller, it's true.

Ryan has been labelled the "Messiah" of the sport in this country which, for decades, had dreams of entering a team on the UCI World Tour and ultimately, the Tour de France. Against the odds, those dreams have become a realities.

As one of Australia's most prominent and influential businessmen, it seems everything Gerry touches turns to gold.

He made his name as a caravan tycoon who has capitalised that success to several international business interests, most of which are not sport related.

A Melbourne Cup winner with the race horse Americain, Gerry also has a huge interest in NRL premiers Melbourne Storm, while stage productions he has bankrolled have been taken to Broadway.

But to see Gerry's eyes water up when being interviewed in the post-stage hysterics, to watch him roar with unashamed excitement when the team raced across the finish line, and to jump with joy when celebrating with and staff, underlined his passion and commitment to cycling.

Gerry is a pioneer who has opened many doors - his success at the Tour is bound to follow a wave of Aussie interest keen on following in his footsteps.

Already, there are several Australian teams competing at levels below the World Tour.
Some say it won't be long before a second Australian team will grace the roads of Le Tour in the near future.

I'm not so sure that is such a good idea just yet, as it would drain the top talent from the domestic Subaru National Road Series.

The local cycling seen needs as much support and encouragement as possible - that being the case the first step is to invite an Aussie-registered Pro Continental outfit such as Huon Salmon-Genesys or Drapac to the Santos Tour Down Under.

For now, all praise should be directed to Gerry Ryan and his love for the team he fondly calls, the "Green Machine". And Ryan dreams on, a happy week, but his quest not just to claim the yellow jersey for a stage, or two, but to hold it one day in Paris is ongoing.

Having committed to the team until 2016 only recently, what's not to say, that final box won't one day down the road be ticked. The man after all has a Midas touch.