Combination of climbers and sprinters for all outcomes
Cycling Australia's national performance director, Shayne Bannan, has indicated his team will go into its home world championships with a "flexible" tactical approach.
Bannan defended the decisions of the three-man selection panel, saying the balance of the team suits the type of course on offer. "The course does determine the type of rider selected, the composition and the balance in the team that we're after," he told reporters in a press conference.
He explained that riders who are suited to the "Ardennes Classics, and to a lesser extent, Gent-Wevelgem" were favoured, with the likes of Cadel Evans and Simon Gerrans (pictured right) chosen thanks to their track record in the likes of Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne and Liége-Bastogne-Liége.
Bannan added that the team's management expects Evans and Gerrans to "play a major role in the world championships", before adding that Heinrich Haussler would also suit the purposes of the selectors, but due to unexpected delays in his rehabilitation he was omitted from the squad.
In terms of sprinters, Bannan acknowledged the terrific form of Matthew Goss, who has risen to a higher level of international prominence in 2010 thanks to wins at the Giro d'Italia and recently the GP Ouest France-Plouay and Allan Davis, who has entered a promising vein of form during the Tour of Poland and Eneco Tour.
Asked who would therefore be the protected rider in terms of Australia's strategy going into the event, Bannan explained that the changeable nature of the race and the approach utilised during last year's championship showcase in Mendrisio could be applied on home turf.
"The race is pretty dynamic and the guys may go into the race in their various roles... [but] a lot can change. And the change is from the honesty from within the group. I saw that last year and without question I'll see that in Geelong."
Bannan will be at the centre of the team's tactical approach, partnering experienced directeur sportif Neil Stephens in the Australian team car for the race, which will take riders from the Victorian capital of Melbourne to Geelong, 75km southwest, before riding 11 laps of the 15.9km circuit around the port city.
Much has been spoken about the course, to which Bannan added: "The first 83km may or may not play a significant role in the race; if it's windy, drizzling conditions it could be similar to the first 100km of a Dutch or Belgian classic."
The McEwen factor
In recent days Robbie McEwen has made headlines with comments about his exclusion from the Australian team for the Geelong. A stalwart of the team, the 38-year-old finished second behind Mario Cipollini in the 2002 world titles in Zolder and fifth in the 2006 event in Salzburg.
Bannan defended the exclusion of the experienced sprinter, saying that the course didn't suit his characteristics. He said he had no qualms about the public airing of McEwen's frustration of his non-selection and praised his contribution to Australian teams in past world championships, explaining that the 3,076m of vertical gain throughout the race - ridden in the last 180km of the race - effectively ended McEwen's chances of riding the world championships on home soil.
"We felt at this stage that on this course Goss and Davis provided better options than Robbie," said Bannan. "Of course taking nothing away from Robbie's history with Australian cycling, which has been tremendous. It was a difficult decision but it was based on the fact that we felt that the course is too difficult for him and we had better options in Goss and Davis."
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