Cycling Australia has announced the team that will represent Australia at the world championships in Madrid, Spain, September 21-25.
The men's road team will be very much centered around sprinter Robbie McEwen. McEwen is considered Australia's best chance for the win on the Madrid course which is relatively flat and has what Italian team coach Franco Ballerini describes as "a 'McEwen corner' with 600 metres to go."
Meanwhile, McEwen himself has been doling out cheeky advice to Belgian national team coach José De Cauwer, advising him to select more of McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto team-mates for the Belgian team. "They know better than anyone else how to guide a sprinter to the finish line. And the Belgians do want Tom to become World Champion, don't they?" said McEwen after Sunday's Paris-Brussels.
While McEwen is the team favourite to contend for victory in Madrid, Australia will also field two other sprinters in Allan Davis and Baden Cooke. Davis has shown flashes of brilliance this year, while Cooke signaled a return to form yesterday when he won the first stage of the Tour of Poland.
In the time trial, world champion Michael Rogers will defend his title, while Bradley McGee and Ben Day will also tackle the TT.
World Cup champion Oenone Wood will head the women's team and, along with Sara Carrigan, will also ride the time trial. A slightly surprising omission is top sprinter Rochelle Gilmore, who was second ahead of Wood at Sunday's World Cup final in Nurnberg, but who has been named only as a reserve. Gilmore has had a season dogged by injury, but Sunday's ride indicates the form that won her the first round of the women's World Cup back in February has returned.
However, it seems Gilmore's return to form was just too late for her to make the team. Cycling Australia spokeperson Gennie Sheer told Cyclingnews, "The cut off date for selection performances was originally August 24 but this was extended to September 4 to provide further opportunity for riders pushing for selection to meet the criteria. The cut off date for nomination of the team to the UCI was September 6. Any results after the September 4 are not eligible for consideration in selection."
Australian 'Cyclones' team for Road World Championships
Elite Men: Baden Cooke (RR), Allan Davis (RR), Ben Day (TT only), Cadel Evans (RR), Matthew Hayman (RR), Robbie McEwen (RR)
Brad McGee (RR & TT), Michael Rogers (RR & TT), Rory Sutherland (RR), Henk Vogels (RR). Reserves: Nick Gates, Simon Gerrans, Aaron Kemps, Brett Lancaster, Matthew Wilson
Elite Women: Katherine Bates (RR), Natalie Bates (RR), Sara Carrigan (RR & TT), Olivia Gollan (RR), Helen Kelly (RR), Oenone Wood (RR & TT). Reserves: Rochelle Gilmore, Emma Rickards.
U23 Men: Mark Jamieson (TT), James Meadley (RR), Nicolas Sanderson (RR), Christopher Sutton (RR), William Walker (RR & TT) . Reserves: Jonathon Clarke, Joel Pearson, David Tanner.