Blunder costs local cyclists TDU starts

Roger Vaughan

Bureaucratic bungling at Cycling Australia has cost rising stars Chris Harper and Cyrus Monk starts at the Tour Down Under.

Harper and Monk would have been certain starters in the composite UniSA team for the WorldTour race in Adelaide, which starts next week.

Their outstanding rides at the national road championships should have earned them selection in the UniSA team, which is picked by CA.

But instead mystery surrounds why the national body failed to follow up on a directive last March from cycling's world governing body, the UCI.

The directive outlined stricter guidelines for anti-doping rules.

By the time CA officials realised the oversight, it was too late for riders such as Harper and Monk.

They had not been in the sport's international testing regime for the required six weeks.

CA chief executive Nick Green acknowledged the oversight in a statement.

"CA is required to be up to date with all the UCI regulations and there is a gap here that we have to rectify," he said.

"The lines of communication between CA and UCI on this are now clear and we are continuing to discuss the matter with the UCI."

While CA would not confirm which riders were affected by the issue, Harper and Monk are obvious victims.

Harper, who rides for the domestic Bennelong Swiss Wellness team, finished third on Sunday in the elite men's road race.

The day before, Monk won the under-23 road race.

Monk was already furious at CA after the race was shortened because of extreme weather conditions.

There is an added curiosity about Monk not fulfilling the new UCI drug testing rules.

While Harper rides for a domestic team, Monk is already a stagiare, or development rider, at WorldTour team Drapac.

CA announced the UniSA team on Wednesday.

It was originally meant to feature five riders from Bennelong, because they were the top team in last year's national road series.

Instead there are four - Steele von Hoff, Rio Olympics mountain biker Scott Bowden, Alex Porter and Tim Roe - plus Sam Welsford, Zak Dempster and Nathan Earle.

Bennelong team boss Andrew Christie-Johnson will manage the UniSA team at the Tour Down Under.

"The team selected is a quality team and we look forward to seeing them represent the green and gold," Green said.