The process of assembling a Tour de France 'Team of the Century" featuring Australian only riders is not so easy, writes Mike Tomalaris.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Australia's links with the world's most famous cycle race dates back to 1914 when Victorian pair Don Kirkham and Snowy Munro were the first from our shores to take the challenge.

Cycling Australia launch Tour de France 'Team of the Century'

The tradition continued through the Depression years with Hubert Opperman, while the post-war era attracted the likes of Russell Mockridge and John Beasley.

Fast forward to the 1970s where Don Allan made in-roads on the world circuit without receiving any fanfare or mainstream acknowledgment.

Each of these cyclists was talented in their own way - some are Australian sporting legends.

But their true qualities are difficult to assess at a time when regular media coverage was exclusively through newspapers.

It wasn't until a decade later when television took the Tour to a whole new level – a time when Phil Anderson created records by becoming the first Aussie to wear the Tour's yellow jersey.

Still, the historic achievements by the man dubbed "Le Skippy" by the French, were recognised in small doses only.

Editors of the capital city daily papers opted to bury the reports deep inside the back pages of the sports section and usually tucked away in a corner with no more than a dozen lines.

Up to 50 Aussies have etched their name in Tour de France folklore but in collating my personal team of the century I've opted to focus my nine riders on the "golden period."

It's the period that started in 1997 and has continued to this day when a new generation of young, brash and exciting Australians decided to make a career from their respective cycling talents.

A worldwide television audience loved them and they weren't afraid to show the world how good Australian cycling really was.

The nine nominations listed are riders I have had the privilege to follow and cover as a reporter and presenter in my 19 years covering the Tour de France for SBS.

These are athletes who epitomise the Aussie sporting psyche. Each portrays a never-say-die attitude, each has had a hunger for success and is responsible for taking Aussie cycling to the heights it enjoys to this day.

General classification
Cadel Evans
Michael Rogers

Super domestique
Adam Hansen
Henk Vogels

Sprinter
Robbie McEwen

Leadout
Mark Renshaw
Allan Davis

All-rounder
Simon Gerrans

Team captain
Brad McGee

NB: Patrick Jonker, Scott Sunderland, Baden Cooke and Richie Porte were all seriously considered in my final selection but failed to make the cut by a whisker.