Scott McGrory was there at the end in Paris to see Cadel Evans become the first Australian to win the coveted world stopping cycling event The Tour de France. Scott along with life time friend Brett Aitken were there at the end some 11 years ago to win Gold for Australia at the Sydney Olympic Games. A first and an end he will never forget when life had seemed to have placed a weight that was almost debilitating of the spirit, yet gaining courage and reason to give their best. Scott’s victory came only 2 months after his son Alexander passed away.
While Australians stayed up to watch Cadel there would be many that have the same memory for Scott and Brett winning the Madison in the 2000 along with Stuart O’Grady winning the 2007 Paris-Roubaix. Scott himself is a sports fan in general and has always been excited about the Tour de France, and to actually be on the ground at the Tour every year is certainly a privilege, but of course this year with Cadel Evans’ victory it was extra special.
Scott recollects he tweeted from Grenoble just before the final time trial where Cadel rode into the lead, please let this be one of those ‘where were you when’ moments. And well it certainly has become one of those very special moments in Australian Sporting history.
The final four days of racing was as good as anything Scott has ever seen. The tactical twists and turns and plot changes throughout the final two mountain stages, and that amazing ride by Cadel in the Stage 20 Time Trial made it fantastic to watch. Combine that with the spectacle of seeing an Aussie in yellow riding onto the Champs Elysees in Paris, well it was awesome! ”
In comparison Scott’s victory at the Sydney Olympics was different to watching Cadel win. Firstly it’s different from the inside, as the athlete, compared to watching if from a distance. It starts off simply trying to be a professional athlete trying to finish a job, you don’t really think about whether you’re making history. The day of the event you’re thinking about all the hard work that brought you to that point, and that you need to finish off what you started and focus on beating your opponents. Then when you cross the line you get a rush of adrenaline that’s almost overwhelming, which comes from achieving a personal goal over coming self doubt and it hits you with a rush! Scott felt a great sense of national pride.
It will be some time, a few days or maybe weeks, before Cadel will fully understand what he has done. Perhaps when he sees the thousands of supporters lining the streets of Melbourne this Friday, to welcome him home, he’ll start to comprehend it more.
The world of professional cycling has for a number of years been giving enormous respect to Australian riders. Twenty years ago Aussies were a novelty, with great riders like Phil Anderson and Alan Pieper. The Australian Institute of Sport program, combined with the State Institutes where Scott is a coach, have developed a new breed of Aussie riders. European Team’s now seek young Australian riders that’s come through the Institute system.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon