Cycling as an Australian Sport?

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby greyhoundtom » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:46 pm

All sports involving closely knit teams stationed in specific locations will to a certain extent have an avid following simply because of the tribal aspect stirring up the “my team is better than your team” scenario, and it does for that reason also attract a lot of youngsters that aspire to then play for “their” team.

The overnight circuses that involves the visit of a particular sports champion to play against the locals, or the once a year “spectacles” that involve a group of top sports men and women competing in a specific event may temporarily stir interest and a following, and may even again cause some youngsters to join that particular sport, but never to the extent that “local” teams will.

Most other sports that have a strong following have this due to the betting that takes place on that particular “sport” via the TAB’s or corporate bookmakers, but there again do not really stir anyone to drop everything else and become involved in that sport.

As far as cycling is concerned it falls into the once a year spectacle for most Australians who only become interested in such events such as the Tour the France.

If cycling is ever going to gain a wide following amongst the average Australian as a competitive sport to either follow or become involved in, it is going to take a huge effort, such as every cycling club holding at least a monthly coaching session at every school in Australia, and much more financial involvement by every bicycle importer and every LBS in such an endeavour.

Then maybe in ten or fifteen years time, cycling as an Australian sport may actually achieve real National recognition.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby wombatK » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:30 pm

brentono wrote:Il Padrone,
Your team loyalties thing is a point, and granted, but
you are now contradicting yourself, from your point about Tiger,
with a following in Australia, he's one individual and a yank..?

+1 totally with IlPadrone. The most popular Aussie sports are team sports that most of us have participated in as kids. While cycling has some team events, and many Aussie's cycle, not many have partipated in cycling team events. Outside the Olympics, there is very little promotion of cycling events and even less of cycling teams. And we are too far from Europe to get excited by the professional cycling teams and only notice it when a gifted Aussie like Cadel turns up on the winners dias.

<flamebait>As for Tiger, golf is not a sport.</flamebait> :P
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby herzog » Sat Nov 21, 2009 6:41 pm

greyhoundtom wrote:All sports involving closely knit teams stationed in specific locations will to a certain extent have an avid following simply because of the tribal aspect stirring up the “my team is better than your team” scenario, and it does for that reason also attract a lot of youngsters that aspire to then play for “their” team.



Couple of other issues we face here in Oz:

It's hard to get the locals excited about teams named after obscure European sponsors (who or what is a Gerolsteiner?) as opposed to the Parramatta Eels or the Essendon Bombers.

Plus the next generation today find sports like swimming, athletics and traditional cycling to be "daggy". Road cycling is seen as the new golf - something middle aged dentists and accountants do on Sunday mornings.

The kids are into "alternative sports" such as Snowboarding, Surfing, Skateboarding, Freeride/Downhill MTB, Freestyle Skiing and so on. Their sporting heroes are Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater, Sam Hill, Travis Pastrana.

Back to the teams thing, I actually think the TDF, and pro road cycling would work better without the teams, as a purely individual sport. Every guy going for himself. Look at how the team time trial ruined this year's tour so early on in the race.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby wombatK » Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:08 pm

herzog wrote:Back to the teams thing, I actually think the TDF, and pro road cycling would work better without the teams, as a purely individual sport. Every guy going for himself. Look at how the team time trial ruined this year's tour so early on in the race.

Agree ! My comments were meant to refer to teams as in teams-pursuit, team-sprint, and even a team time-trial. The cruel thing about the TDF is that insufficient team depth in just one day's event could put an otherwise very good rider in such a lousy position. Nowhere else in the race was that depth (5 top-notch time-trial riders) essential

But that's the way it is with team sports - the team is only as strong as its weakest link. That's a large part of what makes it interesting for spectators. The downside is that in some sports the weakest link can be the guy who's betting against his team or tanking because he's got a different agenda to the team plan. we then feel dudded, not interested :(

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby didge » Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:16 pm

herzog wrote:[

Back to the teams thing, I actually think the TDF, and pro road cycling would work better without the teams, as a purely individual sport. Every guy going for himself. Look at how the team time trial ruined this year's tour so early on in the race.


Taking teams of out pro cycling would greatly reduce the tactics and strategies used in the races...and hence remove alot of the enjoyment of the sport for some people. Ever watched a marathon or ironman? Endurance sports are boring. The tactics and strategies that come from the teams in pro cycling make it satisfying to watch.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby herzog » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:21 am

wombatK wrote:
<flamebait>As for Tiger, golf is not a sport.</flamebait> :P


If anyone EVER tries to claim Golf is a sport, show them this:
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby hartleymartin » Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:04 am

BMX racing seems to be becoming more popular. It seems to be mostly Dads who remember the first BMX craze, getting bikes for their sons and riding them down at some local BMX tracks. I think that this sort of thing is excellent. Kids riding bikes, and spending time with their parents (Dad racing, Mum acting as nurse/paramedic :lol: ) can only be good for our community.

I've been reading about different types of bicycle races. 4-man pursuit sounds interesting, and I like the idea of team-racing.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby il padrone » Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:17 am

hartleymartin wrote:I've been reading about different types of bicycle races. 4-man pursuit sounds interesting, and I like the idea of team-racing.

Not only that, Australia just won the gold medal for this at the World Track Champs here in Melbourne :D . Beating the 'unbeatables' - the UK pursuit team.

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby Mulger bill » Sun Nov 22, 2009 3:44 pm

OK then, so exactly how do we define sport then?

My take is a competetive activity between people or teams that has as objective scoring system.
Hence, speed skating is a sport, figure skating is not.

I'm open to more definitions. :wink:

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby il padrone » Sun Nov 22, 2009 3:48 pm

All diving is not sport? Competitive surfing is not? Freestyle skiing? :wink:
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby Mulger bill » Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:02 pm

Not saying they aint high level competion. :P

After seeing that frog bloke win hands down, I'm not so sure about round football any more.

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby wombatK » Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:24 pm

Mulger bill wrote:OK then, so exactly how do we define sport then?

My take is a competetive activity between people or teams that has as objective scoring system.
Hence, speed skating is a sport, figure skating is not.

I'm open to more definitions. :wink:

Shaun

So Bridge, Billiards and tiddlywinks would be sports. Sitting an exam (HSC, Uni etc.,.) would also qualify. I think not.

To be a sport, you've got to raise a sweat and be moving energetically - not just ambling along and occasionally giving a stationary ball a bit of a whack. As well, there has to be some risk of injury - it's blood, sweat and tears we want to see in our sports.

Don't care about objectivity of the scoring system. A sport has got to have rules, and their interpretation is inevitably subjective - as the soccer hand-balling proved.

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby brentono » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:51 pm

Thanks everyone for making some valid points,
and we seem to be beginning to agree on some things...
defining sport can be difficult, and some minimal effort sports,
and even some questionable sports receive massive finacial input,
that they may not deserve and tip the scale in their favour.
(my point on "degree of difficulty and commitment")
Team sports, are interesting, but often the best team does not
win, because of weak links in the team... an individuals success,
in solo sports, is mainly due to his personal efforts.
Bad image and weak promotion seem to be a problem for cycling
and major sponsorship, here in Oz, seems non-existant.
There is a wealth of talent, here and in NZ, but no outlet.
If you want to take a look (do some research) at madison
and 6-day racing on the track, you will see a spectacle, by
teams of two riders, and you could make several teams of pairs,
National, then even have a Cup between Nations, Aus V's NZ,
as in Union. Asia has many up and coming riders, bring them in..?
Then later with promotion, with International squads and you
would certainly end up with a spectacle and TV coverage,
major sponsors, and facilities, it would all be possible,
with the will. Think that I have covered most points,
hope to hear if others have further thoughts.
As all recent World Championships/Cups have shown,
and with the AIS, we are producing the goods, and there
must be many sub-levels, but we not giving them the outlet,
to show off their talents, more talents than most "sports"...
With the will, not 10-15 years, more like 10-15 months?
Thanks,
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby Mulger bill » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:56 pm

I thought the only drugs going in Walters day was beer and tobacco :shock:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I reckon the more tests yer do the more chance you've got of getting positives.
If other sports -supposedly clean- were tested as much as in cycling I think the results would be scary.

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby rustychisel » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:59 pm

il padrone wrote:
hartleymartin wrote:I've been reading about different types of bicycle races. 4-man pursuit sounds interesting, and I like the idea of team-racing.

Not only that, Australia just won the gold medal for this at the World Track Champs here in Melbourne :D . Beating the 'unbeatables' - the UK pursuit team.

Image




What a f**king great photo, let's see it again!! Good thread too, and this photo tells you a lot about why cycling isn't mainstream.... the precision, the dedication, the commitment, the determination... it's all there in the photo. To the general public (whoever and wherever they are) these 4 guys are - might as well be - alien life forms.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby Chris249 » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:00 pm

herzog wrote:Plus the next generation today find sports like swimming, athletics and traditional cycling to be "daggy". Road cycling is seen as the new golf - something middle aged dentists and accountants do on Sunday mornings.

The kids are into "alternative sports" such as Snowboarding, Surfing, Skateboarding, Freeride/Downhill MTB, Freestyle Skiing and so on. Their sporting heroes are Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater, Sam Hill, Travis Pastrana.


Errrr, is there any evidence about that? Not among my 4 teenagers or their friends, or on the statistics.

More kids still ride bikes than skateboards, rollerblades or scooters (source - current ABS survey).
Swimming, soccer, netball and gymnastics and AFL are still the dominant junior competitive sports (again, ABS survey).

Sk8ing has always had a boom and bust cycle, and kids still seem to drop out of it when they get older. It remains a fairly small sport. Surfing has been around for eons, and went through its own boom and bust cycle once or twice.

If kids find Thorpe etc to be daggy, why are they such popular role models still? Why do all the kids at my club (in my other sport) check out my old TT bike with such interest?

And finally, even if (say) 60% of kids prefer Tony Hawke etc, then that leaves 40% of kids who are interested in finding their own lesser-known heroes and heroines so that they can stand out from the crowd and do their own thing. I'm involved in a very small sport's junior organisation, and the kids are very receptive. The only issue is the lack of a big sporting body behind us, and cycling could have enough cash (AFAIK) to do a lot for kids on bikes.

It's a bit like Scouting. Sure, it may be seen as daggy, but there's 60,000 kids who do it.... why worry about the cool kids when there are lots of daggy kids that not many sports are chasing? Oh, and in the end, as the net and other aspects of IT shows, those nerds can create their own world in which they become the heroes.
There are many types of racing cyclists. There is the sprinter, the rouleur, the stagiaire, the danser, the descender.... sadly, I'm a mediocre. :-(

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby brentono » Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:28 pm

Mulger bill,
They were prohibiting alcohol and tobacco in those days,
(doesn't that sound familiar)
and Cocaine and Heroin were the buzz back then... the roaring 20's
Not saying Walter had anything to do with it, don't think it would
have helped him much, anyway... The new wave players I was
banging on about, the new boys, and the new steadying drugs, FYI.
Rustychisel,
"alien life forms" as I mentioned in my initial post, is it so?
Chris249,
Thanks for giving us the personal touch, it's refreshing, and I'm with you,
they're out there, the kids just need the spark, the direction and the encouragement.
And, out in the rest of the World, Cycling is actually cool.
You might be surprised, in my day, very few Yanks raced, with limited focus in
the USA, and it was only when they realised the money that could be made,
that they pushed their way into it, and still now, have limited sucess. (pre-Lance era)
I've been out in the real World for quite a period, and have lost touch
with the ground levels here, thanks for bringing us up to date.
Nerds fight back.
Cheers,
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby herzog » Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:25 am

rustychisel wrote:To the general public (whoever and wherever they are) these 4 guys are - might as well be - alien life forms.


This touches on another important point.

Whether we like this or not, the sports with the broadest public appeal, are those which are simple to watch and understand.

Look at soccer, probably the simplest of all the big sports, and has the widest appeal of all. On a domestic front, there's AFL, which doesn't appear to have any rules at all.

There's the V8 "Super"cars. It's been dumbed down to Ford v Holden, and look how popular it is.

Some of cycling's track events, are pretty esoteric, with highly complex rules. To the general public, these are one of those sports that pops up every 4 years and they watch it for the novelty value. Like Ski Jumping.

On the other hand you've got stuff like the 1km time trial, which are simple as, but maybe less exciting than some of the other events.

On the Tour De France side, many of the general public will take an interest in the "main" race, because it's pretty easy to "get" that "Lance is leading by 17 seconds". When you tell them Cavendish is leading the points race by 23 points, or Helmut Pumpernickel is leading the climbers race, you've already lost them.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby brentono » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:47 am

Herzog,
I understand the limited attention span, of the average aussies
and as stated, "have lost touch with the ground levels here"
But the two most interesting and promotable track events are
the madison and the six-day.

From the popular Wiki...
And true (granted) as stated here,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_(cycling ) (link here)
"The official rules of the madison, traditionally regarded as being hard to follow,
are stated as follows by British Cycling, the British Governing Body of Cycling"
But when you read through them, are they that hard to follow..?
The six-day is mostly the same, but the event goes for longer... 6-Days (sessions)

Also from Wiki, regarding six-day, a great piece of aussie history...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-day_racing (link here)
"The historian Raymond Dickow said of riders in the post-1898 races:
The highest paid was Alfred Goullet of Australia. He earned $1,000 a day in addition to cash prizes won during sprints.
Top riders like Bobby Walthour, US; Franco Giorgetti, Italy; Gérard Debaets, Belgium; and Alfred Letourneur, France,
were making from $500 to $750 a day. Amateurs who had just turned pro, and still had to prove their worth,
were paid the beginners' rate of $100 a day."

Alfred Goullet (Aus)-Pretty amazing for 1898, which is now 111 years ago, so it worked then, eh!
So why couldn't it work, it's just needs some positive media attention, promotion
and better organisation.
We just had a major Track event, Perth Grand Prix, opened by Cadel Evans,
and even here in the West, the after press/media, was non-existant? What's that about?
Thanks
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby herzog » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:10 pm

brentono wrote:But the two most interesting and promotable track events are
the madison and the six-day.


I reckon the pursuit is a good shot at getting mass appeal. It is pretty clear what's going on, and it plays out well on TV, especially in the split screen mode. Possibly the sprint too. Some of the other events, are truly for the tragics.

To be honest, I think road cycling is more promotable though. It's more "real" in that it doesn't require a special facility, which are not terribly common (unlike say Squash courts). Although there may be millions of Australians who ride a bike, what proportion of cyclists have ever ridden in a velodrome? 1%?

This is what puts track cycling in that category with Ski Jumping and Speed Skating (to use extreme examples).

We just had a major Track event, Perth Grand Prix, opened by Cadel Evans,
and even here in the West, the after press/media, was non-existant? What's that about?
Thanks
BrentonO


What can I say, sport is a crowded market. Around Melbourne Cup it's hard to get noticed.

Lastly, something else cycling could really use is a few genuinely likeble characters at high levels in the sport. Most of them come across as deadpan, surly or agrro, or in some cases under a cloud of suspicion.

Look at what Valentino Rossi alone has done to lift the profile of MotoGP. Cycling needs someone like that.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby shadow42 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:41 pm

Excellent topic Brentono. :)

I have been ting this same thing for some time now. I noticed many posters cited that it was because Cycling is not as team-orientated as most of the ball sports or that it's hard for spectators get involved. If that's so how do you explain the popularity of motor sport (ie, World Rally, V8 Supercars, etc...)?

I personally think there are two issues as to why Australia hasn't embraced cycling as a national sport:
  1. Lack of media coverage. The only time the average Australian gets to listen to Phil Ligget is during the Tour de France. And that's only the odd 30-sec snippet at the end of the sports section of the news (if you're lucky). Yes, SBS provide good coverage of the Tour, but it's not prime-time viewing. We need prime-time, commercial-TV coverage to get sort of recognition in the eye's of your typical Aussie bloke.
  2. Attitudes of your typical Aussie bloke. For most "typical Aussie blokes" the idea of men who shave/wax their legs and wear lycra screams one thing: GAY!!! This is strange as it's OK for our top swimmers to do basically the same thing... Whilst this mis-conception (that cyclists are gay) remains, cycling will never get the recognition it deserves in the eyes of the Australian public. And with out that, we won't get the media coverage.

Maybe we are Aliens; we dress in body hugging lycra, wear funny shoes that you can't walk in, shave/wax our legs (and arms?), spend thousands of $$$ on a machine that weighs less than a carton of beer and has a tiny seat that cuts you in half, and choose to punish ourselves mentally and physically for hours on end. Oh and the focus required to achieve success means that we come across as arrogant and elitist (you have to believe you'll win or you'll never have a chance). The entire sport, and the people who participate in it, is foreign to your typical Aussie sports lover. They can't relate and don't understand it. We have to bridge this gulf if we even have a chance... :(

If we think out it, every major sport in this country is one that were all participated (or had friends who did) whist we were growing up. Football, Soccer, Rugby, Tennis, Basketball, Netball, Swimming, etc... These are all sports that were/are part of going to school and growing up in this country. Cycling (as a sport) doesn't get a look in, so will always be the outsider... Maybe THAT's the nut we have to crack to get the recognition? :?
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby Baldy » Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:37 pm

On the lycra=gayness point I think its a valid one. Not that I think its true of course just that its a stereotype that is out there with non cyclists and even casual riders...mtb'ers ect ect :lol: I'd even count myself as part guilty when I was younger and sillier[if possible] I didnt actually think all lycra clad cyclists were gay, just that it might be an attractive thing for gay people to do and wear, idiotic I know but doesnt mean theres not a smidgen of truth in it :? I guess it depends on your perspective...

Personally, since I started wearing it on the bike if I do get any looks at all[usually awe at my stickman like body :P ] Its usually from women, dare I say...yummy mummys :mrgreen: I will concede thats most likely because they are the only ones I notice looking or catch them having a sneaky perve :lol: I reckon in this case ignorance is bliss!!

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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby herzog » Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:57 pm

shadow42 wrote:
I have been ting this same thing for some time now. I noticed many posters cited that it was because Cycling is not as team-orientated as most of the ball sports or that it's hard for spectators get involved. If that's so how do you explain the popularity of motor sport (ie, World Rally, V8 Supercars, etc...)?


Motorsport is a little different.

Many people attend big motorsport events for the same reason people go to airshows.

The noise, the machinery, the spectacle, the sense of occasion. Probably 75% of the Crowd at the F1 or Indy are not what you'd call hardcore fans of the sport. And at a guess, 99% of them do not participate in any form of motorsport.
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby shadow42 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:11 pm

Baldy wrote:...Personally, since I started wearing it on the bike if I do get any looks at all[usually awe at my stickman like body :P ] Its usually from women, dare I say...yummy mummys :mrgreen: I will concede thats most likely because they are the only ones I notice looking or catch them having a sneaky perve :lol: I reckon in this case ignorance is bliss!!...


If there's one thing cycling is great for...it's toning up the buttocks. And what's one of the most popular parts of a man's anatomy that a woman looks at? My GF may not fully understand why I love cycling, but for some reason she can't keep her hands off my rear... :mrgreen: Oh and like Baldy, I've noticed the odd "yummy mummy" sneaking a perve as I'm stopped at the traffic lights or ride past. Good for the ego that one. :)

As for the "others" who yell out various derogative comments, I suspect they may be jealous they can't pull off the "Lycra Look". ;)

Oh and for those who missed it... Melbourne hosted the UCI World Track Championships last week. And the Australians kicked some serious a$$!
I don't watch much mainstream news media any more, so can't comment about this event getting any coverage. I doubt it got much, if any.
It's lucky we aren't constrained by what mainstream media choose to broadcast with the advent of the Internet.
From "Cycling Tips": UCI Track World Cup Recap

herzog wrote:...Motorsport is a little different...

Agreed. It was more to demonstrate that not all popular sports are that way due to the "ease of spectating with beer in hand". Australians have a love affair with the car (anything with a motor really), so the popularity of motor sports makes sense from this base emotion.

Hmmm, I think that's the point of why Australian's get behind a particular sport: LOVE!

So that's the answer to the question: "Why isn't Cycling considered a sport in Australia?" We, as a nation, don't love it. :(
This then raises another question: "How can we change that and get the country to love it; just like they do in Europe?" I don't know how to answer that...
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Re: Cycling as an Australian Sport?

Postby im_no_pro » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:15 pm

shadow42 wrote:For most "typical Aussie blokes" the idea of men who shave/wax their legs and wear lycra screams one thing: GAY!!! This is strange as it's OK for our top swimmers to do basically the same thing... Whilst this mis-conception (that cyclists are gay) remains, cycling will never get the recognition it deserves in the eyes of the Australian public. And with out that, we won't get the media coverage.[/list]


Hrm.....
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