Cycling Australia has bowed to pressure and will now fill its female selection quota for the upcoming road world championships. Only five female riders had initially been selected despite seven available places.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan successfully appealed their omissions to an independent panel on Wednesday.
Hosking – Australia’s top-ranked rider – said: "The only thing you can appeal is the process and the independent review panel found there was a flaw in process of selecting a team of five and because of that they had to go back and re-select.
"The whole idea behind the appeal wasn't because I was angry that I wasn't in the five, it was the principal that they weren't filling a full team. When I found out the appeal had been allowed and selectors would have to go back and fill the team, for me that was enough, but luckily I didn't stop training.
"It's not a process I would wish upon anyone, it's really quite stressful and definitely not geared towards optimal performances for athletes but I have a great team around me."
Australian Sports Commission (ASC) boss Kate Palmer said she believed the original decision had not been gender based but performance based. This was despite Australia’s women having earned the right to select seven riders through being ranked third in the world. The men’s team, in contrast, included Heinrich Haussler despite his only having raced eight race days this year due to a knee injury.
Cycling Australia gets funding from the ASC and Palmer did say that this would be affected if there were concerns around inequality.
Hosking welcomed the review panel’s decision, but said: "There's still more money going into men's sport, but there are big moves being made and accessibility to women's sport is becoming more readily available and that's what we need."
Cycling Australia has also recently pulled support for the Orica-AIS women's pro team as well as the men’s under-23 Mitchelton-Scott development team. Cycling Tips reports that the teams’ management company, GreenEdge Cycling, will make up the shortfall.
Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green explained: “From next year, Cycling Australia will focus on individual athletes, domestic development of road cycling and our role in the Australian Cycling Team at World Championships and Olympic Games. This is an amicable ending to a long and successful partnership and we look forward to working with GreenEdge in the future.”
GreenEdge Cycling owner, Gerry Ryan, said that the women’s team had been “one of our shining lights this year.”
He added: “The decision of others is out of our hands but we believe [the riders] deserve our support, and a lot more.”