South Africa’s Daryl Impey has won the ninth stage of the Tour de France, beating Belgian rider Tiesj Benoot in a two-man sprint.
Many of Australian cycling’s greatest names are contenders for a Tour de France team of the century.
Cycling Australia will announce the nine-rider combination at its annual awards function on November 21 in Melbourne.
Stars such as Cadel Evans, Phil Anderson and Robbie McEwen are certainties to feature in the all-Australian honorary team.
Stuart O’Grady would also be an automatic inclusion, but Cycling Australia has announced that any rider who has served a doping suspension or made a doping confession is ineligible.
O’Grady, one of Australia’s greatest Tour riders, retired after last year’s race and days later admitted he had doped in 1998.
It is 100 years since Don Kirkham and “Snowy” Munro became the first Australians to ride in the Tour.
The six-person selection panel will pick a proper Tour lineup – two riders for the general classification, two domestiques, one sprinter, two leadout riders, an all-rounder and a team captain.
Evans, the only Australian to win the Tour three years ago, and Anderson are locks for the two GC roles.
But there will be several tough decisions for the selectors.
For example, while McEwen is the obvious choice for the sprinter’s role, only having one designated fast man on the team potentially rules out other worthy contenders.
Australia’s ongoing golden era in the Tour started with sprinters such as McEwen and fellow green jersey winner Baden Cooke.
And O’Grady would have been the obvious choice for team captain.
Selection panel chairman Peter Bartels said it would be particularly tough to compare generations.
“It’s so hard to measure the quality of a rider like Russell Mockridge, who was arguably the best of his generation, but we sadly didn’t get to see his best,” Bartels said.
“Unfortunately, with just nine spots on a Tour de France team, there’ll be world-class riders, who have done wonderful things for Australian cycling, who will miss out.”