If 2011 continues like this, it will no doubt become known as “The Year Australia Dominated”, or something like that. It seems unlikely that it could continue in this fashion, but then again, I would have deemed what’s happened so far pretty unlikely too if you’d asked me before it all began. So, when exactly did it begin? Well, fittingly, the Tour Down Under. Not only did Cameron Meyer secure the Ochre jersey of overall victor, but two other Aussies, Matthew Goss and Michael Matthews slotted into the top five. What’s even more exciting is that the combined age of these three riders is 67 years (if your numeracy skills are lacking, that means they’re very young). So we should be seeing this trio at the pointy end of things for at least another decade.
The Tour of Qatar was also dominated by the Aussies. Heinrich Haussler won two stages and wore the leader's jersey before Mark Renshaw took both stage 4 line honours and the overall. Renshaw held onto the number one spot while Haussler finished second.
Then there was the Tour of Oman. While this wasn't dominated by Aussies, Matty Goss still managed to come away with some silver. He was strong enough to make the selection over a steep pinch midway through stage 2 and then go on to outsprint Daniele Bennati and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Very impressive.
At the Belgian race Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Chris Sutton won a sprint finish over the likes of André Greipel and Tyler Farrar. The fact that he was led out by teamates Juan Antonio Flecha and Edvald Boasson Hagen shows that Sky have great faith in him.
While Greg Henderson is from New Zealand, he’s also pretty Australian (see this CyclingTips post as to why). The Sky rider outsprinted the peloton in a show of strength on stage 2 of Paris-Nice. The next day, Matty Goss won (again!) and got himself a short stint in the leader’s jersey.
Then there was the Tirreno-Adriatico. It’s as if no one has told Cadel Evans that he is no longer the world champion. He’s still riding with the confidence and winning-ways with which the rainbow stripes seem to bless their bearer. The chorus of naysayers who have previously chided Evans for being a boring whiner are swiftly and quietly leaving the room. Not only is he now winning, he is winning in style. He is winning with panache! His stage 6 victory, when he already had the leader’s blue jersey, was a result of smarts and pure strength. Evans was able to outgrind some elite companions including Michel Scarponi, Vincenzo Nibali, Ivan Basso, Philippe Gilbert and Robert Gesink. Watching Cadel climb isn’t beautiful but it is classy and you know he’s climbing. He backed up the win with a strong time trial the next day to take overall victory and win a ridiculous looking trophy.
Most recently, the first of the five monuments, the Milan-San Remo was taken out by Matty Goss who, like the Australian contingent in general, is having the most incredible start to his season. His win on the weekend was all about poise, first conserving his energy, then strength, backing himself from 500 metres out to explode across the line ahead of his seven companions comprising Fabian Cancellara (who managed an excellent sprint by his standards), Philippe Gilbert, Yoann Offredo and a bevy of big name Italians.
So, for how long can this continue? I have no idea but while it does it’s heaps of fun to watch and can only be doing great things for the future of Australian cycling.