William Walker will replace former Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady in Australia's line-up for this weekend's UCI World Championship road race. O'Grady has withdrawn from the event after feeling "a bit flat" following the Olympic Games, according to national performance director Shayne Bannan.
"Stuey headed back to Australia after the Olympic Games for a short break and since returning to Europe has ridden a couple of races but has been feeling a bit flat," said Bannan. "He doesn't think he's in the form he needs to be to do the job for Australia this weekend and rather than let down the team he's decided not to compete."
Walker, who rides for Dutch squad Rabobank, lives and trains in Varese during the season and is very familiar with the course. He was also on the Australian team for last year's World Championship race in Stuttgart, Germany.
"I'm very, very happy about rejoining the team because it's a special honour to ride for Australia at the World Championships," said Walker. "The fact that it's a few kilometres from my house makes it even better.
"I've had a really hard year what with a virus that laid me low and then I was hit by a few cars which slowed me down a bit," he added. "I've been riding resonably well for the past couple of months though and when you ride for Australia you always ride above yourself and find something extra so I'm really motivated for Sunday."