Peloton Watch
  Australian National Team To Miss Tour of Chongming Island  
  May 10th 2014  
  The issue of riders not being able to obtain visas to attend races has been in the spotlight the past few weeks. The problem has come up again with the Tour of Chongming Island in China. The Australian National Team has been unable to secure a visa on time to attend the three day stage race.

Riders were initially scheduled to fly out this Sunday ahead of the start on Wednesday. While riders have now been able to secure a visa to head to China, they are now scheduled to fly out Friday, the final day of the race.

2012 winner Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) was to headline the team. "Its always disappointing when you've achieved there before and plan to try and do the same and it's taken away," said Hoskins. With the pan flat roads and almost certain bunch finishes Hoskins was one of the favourites for the race. "I had this race on my program since the start of the year and I've had better preparation than I did last year so I was really hoping to give it a good crack. Not meant to be."

The team will still fly to China and ride the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup on Sunday and the Tour of Zhoushan Island the following week. Despite the disappointment in missing the three day stage race Hoskins remains upbeat. "My race days have gone from 7 to 4. 3 less opportunities so now the big focus is the World Cup. Will be good to see who is going well during the first tour and keep an eye on those in good form."

The difficulty of racing in China is not new, with problems having occurred in past years. The popular manager of Hitec Products Karl Lima tweeted a week ago "Sending a team to China is as easy as killing an eel in a 1000 litre aquarium armed with a tea spoon".

Regardless of the difficulties Hoskins is happy with the racing in China "A World Cup is important regardless of where in the world it is. Chongming being a few days before is a good hit out and makes the long trip a bit more worth while than just a one day race."

With visa issues becoming more common, Hoskins is quick to point out she doesn’t feel anyone is to blame here. "It's not necessarily anyone's fault that we can't make the first tour. We miss getting our passport back by one day and if falls on a weekend. That's just unlucky. In saying that, the last two years we have never had an issue doing the visas the way we attempted this year and had more problems than ever."

The delay in securing a visa is similar to the recent troubles in the men's peloton. "It's difficult for us to apply for visas when not being at home (Australia) and traveling to races so much. I came to Italy on Tuesday morning and the visa paperwork and passports were taken in that same day. Why it took so long to have them approved I can't say. It's just disappointing."
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