Evans urges ongoing government funding18 November 2009
World champion cyclist Cadel Evans is amazed at the number of people who have taken up the sport because of him.
In the wake of the controversial Crawford Report, Evans said it is important that government funding for sport continues.
The newly-crowned world road champion and two-time Tour de France runner up is on a national tour to promote his autobiography.
Evans continues to find that elite athletes such as himself have a major effect at the grass-roots level. One of the major debating points of the Crawford Report is the link between elite sport and competition at lower levels.
"At the book launches, I don't know how many people have come up to me and said 'only because of you and thanks to you I've taken up riding my bike'," Evans said.
"Whether they're 40 or 50 or 60 or 20, it's been really quite overwhelming, I'm quite surprised."
While Evans is now a cycling millionaire, he received extensive Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) support early in his career while he was a mountain bike.
"If Australia have any hopes to perform at the Olympics, not just in London but beyond, unfortunately we have to invest in young talent," Evans said.
"I don't know if I would have made it as a professional athlete if I hadn't had the help from the AIS and Cycling Australia earlier in my career."
Top Australian track rider Anna Meares has also urged the government not to reduce funding ahead of the London Olympics.
"We have business to do in London, we have a lot of business to take to the Poms in the Olympic Games," she said.
"We do need the funding to get us there."
Cycling Australia's (CA) board will go over the report at their meeting in Melbourne this weekend.
"It's great the report is finally out and we can move the sport debate on," said chief executive Graham Fredericks.
"It's laying a few questions fairly and squarely at the Government as well in terms of where they want to go with the elite end of sport and how they want to integrate more investment in the grass roots.
"(For cycling) it's critical what comes out of this report and it's critical how the Government reacts to it."
Australian cycling only won one silver medal at the Beijing Games, but Fredericks said results such as Evans' world title in September showed the sport had rebounded.
"If we're going to be called a disaster one year, then you'd have to say we've fought back and we're a success now," he said.
"I'm very confident we have a good team of people who are going to ensure the result will be vastly improved in London."