Team CSC duo Stuart O'Grady and Matthew Goss are late withdrawals from the Australian Open Road Championships' Elite Men's road race in Ballarat, Melbourne today, with the pair deciding to focus their efforts on this year's Tour Down Under. It's believed the the pair's Team CSC team-mates will be arriving in Adelaide at some point today, where they will meet up and start preparations for the ProTour's opening round which starts in a week's time.
"Last night both Stuart and Matt decided not to participate. It is too early season for them and it would interfere with their preparation for the TDU and the classics," team sport director Scott Sunderland said.
Sunderland, himself a former professional from Australia, believes that the timing of the Australian nationals always presents an issue for the nation's top riders, as its far too early in the season for the riders to be at the top of their game. "In this part of the season it's much more important to train than race," Sunderland said recently. "It will always be a problem with the Australian championships and I felt the same way back when I was racing myself. Last year they skipped the championships and they were happy about that afterwards."
While the absence of Goss and the 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner will undoubtedly be a blow for the Australian nationals race, it will still feature a quality field of some 110 riders. The 163.2 kilometre championship race will start at 11 AM local time today.