Thursday, August 16, 2007

Aussie ProTour pipedream?

There's been talk but little action. Now we see Yahoo and CN are reporting some pretty weak but hyped news, though: " has shed some light on its ProTour intensions, after announcing earlier this week it would throw $20 million dollars behind an Australian ProTour team. The Australian company, owned by former Australian Rules footballer turned businessmen Tony Smith, has revealed its eight figure pledge will be made over a period of five years, meaning another estimated $15 million in additional funding is required to make the plan viable."


Roamfree is an online accommodation service, so we can see the links here. An Aussie ProTour team would certainly need to roam around a bit. And the travel links nicely into tourism and government support. But do we need this? Why an Aussie team? What's wrong with just a Aussie corporate ProTour team of mixed nationality? Why not beef up one of the existing Aussie-based Continental pro teams? I'm all for giving Australians a chance to race as pro cyclists, and I like the idea of improving the image of cycling in Australia, but I really think that national teams are a side issue and a distraction.

National squads are a convenient label that we have become used to, especially at the Olympics, but they attract as much flag-waving-nutter hypocrisy as genuine support. It could become just another political lever for a government. A lever that is as easy to push to "off" as it is to "on". Instead let's distance ourselves from politics and nationalism and ground our professional cycling teams on rock, not shifting sands. If there is some bedrock under this suggestion, let's see that commitment.