The fictional character said he “never knew what you’re going to get” and neither did McGee in a career that brought ultimate highs and devastating lows for 20 years.
One of Australia’s most decorated cyclists will add another chapter when he is inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame at a gala dinner on Thursday.
There’s the Olympic Gold medal on the track and four Grand Tour stage wins on the road, but there’s also a devastating Tour de France DNF (did not finish) and a lingering ‘what if’ given his best years clashed with the Lance Armstrong EPO era.
But McGee is among the latest inductees to the Hall of Fame because the positives overwhelmingly outweighed the negatives for a humble man more interested in giving than receiving.
Brad McGee now spends his time coaching. Picture: Sarah Reed.Source:News Corp Australia
McGee at home on the bike in Bowral.Source:News Limited
A family man who lives in New South Wales’ southern highlands, McGee is coach of the Australian national road team, NSW Institute of Sport and an ambassador for the MS Foundation.
“This is a little bit weird because I thought these days were done,” McGee said of his induction.
“The challenge for me is that I’m in the coaching space, so it’s all about giving and enabling and working with young athletes. I deliberately stop myself from saying things like, ‘when I was a boy’, ‘in my day’ or ‘when I did it’.
“I’ve sort of dropped all that.”
So the Herald Sun recently set about reminding him.
Asked for his biggest highlight, McGee takes us under the Athens velodrome at the 2004 Olympics.
“The team pursuit gold medal … we had been trying to win that thing for a long time and it’s obviously something you can’t do yourself and you need to connect with your mates,” he said.
McGee celebrates his gold medal win in Athens.Source:Supplied
McGee with daughter Tahlia after winning gold in the men’s 4000m team pursuit in Athens.Source:News Limited
“Everything needs to be in-line together and that’s a higher level than any individual success you’re going to have.
“I remember the warm up. We were in this little room under the velodrome and we were only 10-20 minutes away from starting. I took a little look around the room at the guys — (Brett) Lancaster, (Graeme) Brown, (Luke) Roberts and you could tell there and then that we were connected and we were ‘on’.
“There was just a high level of trust and respect and a little bit of fear. You’re warming up with three blokes who can essentially rip your legs completely to pieces.
“But the realisation we were connected and about to go out there and do something pretty special was an awesome feeling.”
The low point came in the same year on the same continent and only a month earlier when McGee was forced to walk away early from a Tour de France he was in career-best shape for.
“That year was such a rollercoaster. I came out of the Giro (d’Italia) where I finished top 10, which was just amazing,” he said.
Bradley McGee wins a stage of the Tour de France in 2002.Source:AP
And he donned the leader’s yellow jersey at the Tour de France in 2003.Source:News Limited
“I went into a small French race (Route du Sud) which I won. The Tour was only a couple of weeks away and everything just went south really quick.
“I actually buggered my back doing something stupid. I was lifting a pot plant and I limped into the Tour with that, virtually in denial, and of course four or five days in I dropped and just had to go home.
“That was tough.”
He said his foray into coaching was a labour of love.
“It’s not a job that’s for sure. It’s something I’m passionate about and I’m constantly wondering ‘Am I doing enough? Can I do it better?” McGee said.
“As far as our Olympic status and success as a nation, we’ve hit rock bottom. We’re not denying anything anymore, we’re accepting it for what it is and working to get out of that hole.
“The talent has never stopped coming through. I think by Tokyo we’ll be back strong, competitive and hopefully we can get back to the top.”