Lucas selected for New Zealand Worlds team after appeal

Oceania road race champion forces change of heart at Cycling NZ

After an appeal heard by Cycling New Zealand, Oceania road race champion Sharlotte Lucas (Specialized Women's Racing) has been given a place in the national team for the road race at the upcoming world championships in Innsbruck, Austria.

Before Lucas' appeal, performance director Martin Barras had told New Zealand website stuff.co.nz that her non-selection was as a result of her not being suited to what is a hilly road course at the Worlds in Austria.

"She's not the type of rider that we deem is going to perform particularly well on a course that hilly, so if you talk about Sharlotte specifically, that is the basis on why she wasn't selected," said Barras.

"It's not that we don't think very highly of her as a bike rider, it's just a little bit like selecting a sprinter for a really, really hilly course. It doesn't suit the purpose."

Lucas also successfully appealed her non-inclusion in New Zealand's Commonwealth Games road race selection for the event on the Gold Coast, Australia, in April this year, where she went on to finish fourth.

"Sharlotte was selected for the Commonwealth Games and she actually accomplished very, very well at the Commonwealth Games, and we acknowledge that," said Barras.

"We were very pleased with her performance there. But this is a very different course at the world championships, and, more importantly, she is not racing in Europe and wasn't planning to be in Europe for the final preparation."

The New Zealand case echoes the situation in Australian cycling last year, when Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan successfully appealed their non-inclusion in the road race squad for the Worlds in Bergen, Norway.

Cycling Australia initially chose to fill only five of their seven-qualified berths, but all seven spots were eventually filled after Hosking and Neylan's appeal.

Lucas' addition to the New Zealand team for this year's Worlds means that she'll join Mitchelton-Scott's Georgia Williams in the road race. US-based pair Mikayla Harvey and Grace Anderson, who both ride for Team Illuminate, are set to join Williams and Lucas, although they "will need to prove their capability in two upcoming races in Europe to be considered for selection", according to Cycling New Zealand, with Harvey also slated to ride the time trial.

However, providing Anderson and Harvey do ride the road race, and with the addition of Lucas, Cycling New Zealand will still only be fielding four of a possible six riders that the federation had qualified to send to this year's race.

"There were very few riders because very few of our girls race on teams who even participate at just a level of racing that indicates you're suited to a world championships, especially a world championships that is very, very challenging and very, very hilly," Barras told stuff.co.nz.

"That is the basis on why we didn't select a full complement as far as the women are concerned because there are just not that many women currently that are racing or will be in Europe at the tail end of the season with a racing programme that can prepare them, or at least establish that they are fit for purpose for this particular world title."

In the men's road race, meanwhile, the New Zealand squad will be headed by LottoNL-Jumbo's George Bennett, supported by Paddy Bevin (BMC), Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Sam Bewley (Mitchelton-Scott).

Bevin will also ride in the time trial, along with Oceania time trial champion Hamish Bond.

 

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