Early Seasons and Open Championships

Jan 3 2010

Is it the season already? Certainly feels that way with all the results coming out of Australia—though any result with Graeme Brown at the top makes me wonder just a bit. Nothing against Brownie, really—I just seem to know him better for his talking than his riding.

Speaking of talking, Robbie McEwen has been making noise recently, both about his comeback and about foreign infiltrators in the Australian national championships.

I’ll pass on commenting on the first item until McEwen ramps it up in Europe, but I think the complaint about foreign riders is an interesting one, especially to a US audience. Until ’06, the American race was open to foreigners, and—with the exception of Freddy Rodrguez—was dominated by domestic pros.

The closing of the race to foreign riders, along with its relocation to a slower period in the calendar (and George Hincapie’s backyard) finally put top-level American competitors back into the Stars and Stripes. But excluding foreigners from Australia’s national title seems highly unlikely to attract the best Aussies in peak condition, simply because it occurs two-and-a-half months before the start of the European season.

While I can certainly relate to McEwen’s distress at seeing foreign riders on the podium at his National Championship event, unless he can rally enough countrymen make a mid-season flight halfway around the world, into the middle of winter, an Aussies-only championship would offer little in terms of quality over the existing race format.

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