BikeNZ high performance director Mark Elliott says Julian Dean and Hayden Roulston might not like the fact they've been overlooked for the London Olympics, but they ''respect'' the decision to go with Greg Henderson and Jack Bauer.
Henderson will head a three-strong Kiwi road cycling team for London, it was announced today, with the former world track champion to be joined by fellow European-based professional Bauer.
They will compete in the men's road race on July 28, the opening day of the Olympics, while Linda Villumsen will make her Olympic debut on the road for New Zealand after competing for Denmark at Beijing in 2008.
There was strong competition for the two spots for the men, with four-time Olympian Julian Dean and Beijing track double medallist Hayden Roulston selected as reserves.
Elliott said selecting the two men's representatives was a ''difficult decision'' with four World Tour pro riders to choose from, but in the selectors' eyes Henderson and Bauer had the consistency of form and were better suited to the Olympic course.
''We could've run the permutations either way but it comes down to Greg having a fantastic season,'' Elliott said. ''We look at how this race is going to pan out, there are so many countries that have a desire for a bunch sprint finish. We see Greg at the forefront in that situation.''
Bauer was the ideal support for Henderson and would also be capable of a top-15 finish in the men's time trial.
Dean's chances were essentially scuppered by a dreadful crash on the Tour of Catalunya in March; despite a remarkable comeback he just hasn't had the preparation.
''And it was tough to leave Rolly out, too,'' Elliott said, ''knowing that both those guys have got the strength to support, but Jack's had a fantastic year.
''He's got a Grand Tour (Tour of Italy) behind him, when you've got a Grand Tour in your legs you go to another level. We do know that Jack has got something special to offer in the time trial as well, so it was one of those factors.''
Dean and Roulston have been named as Olympic reserves and with Henderson still to complete the Tour de France, anything could happen.
Elliott said it was ''never easy'' leaving riders of their calibre out of an Olympic team.
''Unfortuantely we've had a run of that already with our track programme, given the quality of riders we've got there and ability to select a full team, but certainly when you know the calibre of those two riders and how much they've committed to performing for New Zealand, it's a really tough call.
''I guess the positive side is we've got the depth of riders to make those calls tough.''
Elliott said they had taken the news ''as expected''.
''It was difficult. They respect the decision but quite rightly they wanted to be there and would love to be in that position. Julian, the leadup with his breakage was not optimal, but also they're well aware of the quality of performance that both Greg and Jack have put in and they respect the decision we've made.''
Elliott said the fact Henderson was the only Kiwi riding the Tour de France this year was a ''bonus'' but not the determining factor in his selection.
''For him to have that ability to go and race hard is a factor but really it was how well Greg had been going before that, how he'd been building through the season and the consistency that he'd shown.
''It was not the factor, but one which was certainly going to work in his favour.''