Jason Christie will appeal his non selection for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The Elite Men’s Road National Champion was overlooked for one of the six road spots taken up for the Games; including the reserve position.
The men’s road team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast consists of Shane Archbold of Aqua Blue Sport, Jack Bauer of Mitchelton-Scott, Alex Frame of Trek-Segafredo, James Oram of ONE Pro Cycling with teammate Hayden McCormick acting as a reserve; with Hamish Bond taking the time trial spot. The road race team will take on 168km of racing over 9 laps of an 18.7km course. The course will lead the field through Currumbin, Currumbin Waters and Elanora and finish right on the coast. It’s said to be a sprinter-friendly course which will be music to the ears of the fast finishers who were denied a chance in Glasgow in what was much more a war of attrition; where Jack Bauer took a famous silver medal.
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But Jason Christie was overlooked for a spot in the team despite taking his second national championship title in three years. Over the past three seasons Christie has made the national championships his own, winning the national title in 2016, taking second place in both road race and time trial in 2017, then 3rd against the clock and victorious in the road race this year. His pedigree is undeniable; although one notable difference between Christie and those selected for the road race is that he has had no UCI racing since his national championship win and is not currently signed up for a professional team.
Christie told Radio New Zealand that he will be appealing his non-selection for the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team for the Gold Coast. His non-selection was met by a strong reaction from many in the cycling community, with many reacting to RoadCycling’s publication of the team selection with frustration that Christie – a proven New Zealand champion – had been overlooked; querying what the reigning national champion needed to do to get selected.
There are a couple of things that may stand in his way though if he is to get through and gain a spot.
The team as it stands for Gold Coast
First of all looking at the team for the Games it’s hard to see a rider on the line up who doesn’t deserve to be there. Alex Frame has displayed an impressive level of consistency in the bunch sprints of the Abu Dhabi Tour for Trek-Segafredo as well as his strong performance in the Herald Sun Tour prologue. The prospect of Frame and Archbold linking up is a mouth watering one to say the least, with the Aqua Blue Sport fast man performing lead out duties on behalf of Adam Blythe and Mark Christian.
Jack Bauer and James Oram share a work rate that sets an extremely high bar. Bauer’s command of the peloton was as valuable last year at the Tour de France for Quick-Step Floors as it has proven this year with Mitchelton-Scott at the Santos Tour Down Under. James Oram played the role of super domestique at the New Zealand Cycle Classic and has been consistent throughout the summer from the the National Championship road race and time trial where he was 5th and 7th respectively, to the Cycle Classic where he placed 6th overall including two top 6 finishes, to the Gravel and Tar Classic where he finished 5th.
Then there is reserve Hayden McCormick, who has had a near dream summer. Second place in the Elite Men’s Road Race behind Christie, victory in the New Zealand Cycle Classic, and 3rd place in the Gravel & Tar Classic were nothing short of just desserts for the Te Awamutu rider who will race alongside Oram at ONE Pro Cycling this season.
The problem of statistics
Secondly the statistics do not lend themselves favourably to Christie earning a major championship start. It seems to be the trend in New Zealand cycling that national title success in no way guarantees a major championship berth. In the road race no reigning national champion has been selected for a World Championship or Commonwealth Games team since Jack Bauer in 2010. That was the year he was crowned national champion, and from there he went on to ride for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi; finishing 8th in the time trial and 10th in the road race.
The World Championships-National Championships correlation makes for even more grim reading as far as statistics go. Julian Dean was the last rider to win the national title and gain world championship selection in the same year back in 2008. Since then Gordon McCauley, Jack Bauer, Hayden Roulston (three times), Michael Vink, Joseph Cooper (twice) and Jason Christie have all won the national title but not been selected for the World Championship team.
Finally, between 2003 and 2017 the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand has heard 36 cases of athletes or coaches appealing non-selection or non-nomination for a New Zealand team or squad. 6 appeals were made against non-selection for the Commonwealth Games, but none of them met with success. 2 of the Tribunal’s appeals against World Championship non-selection were met with success.
We will wait with eager anticipation to see whether Jason Christie can finally break the trend in recent years and become the first rider since 2010 to be selected for a major championship as the reigning road race champion. Watch this space for more.