Egan Bernal and Vincenzo Nibali have made late decisions not to ride the Road World Championships in Yorkshire, both doubting they have the end of season-form to deserve a place in the Colombia and Italy national teams for the elite men's road race.
Bernal was named in the eight-rider roster for the Colombian team on Monday but the Colombian Federation was forced to change it's line-up when Bernal declined selection, with Carlos Betancur called up to replace him.
The Colombian Federation was understandably keen to have the Tour de France winner in its line-up for the world championships but Bernal had already warned that he would turn down selection if he felt he was not at his best and another rider could do better.
"I want to clarify that I am still not sure about going to the World Championships this year," Bernal wrote on Twitter on September 4. "I am training in Colombia to prepare the end of the season well, but if I feel that I am not fit to represent my country in the best way, I prefer that they give the opportunity to another person."
Despite that message, the Colombian Federation selected him, only to make an embarrassing back track within 24 hours.
"Bernal had been included by coach Carlos Mario Jaramillo among the eight riders selected along with Nairo Quintana, Fernando Gaviria, Álvaro Hodeg, Sebastián Molano, Sebastián Henao, Esteban Chaves and Daniel Martínez," said the Colombian Federation in a statement.
"However on Monday, the closing day of the registrations with the UCI, the talented Team Ineos rider decided to decline selection, which is why Betancur, entered in the pre-selection, took his place."
Bernal travelled to Europe last week and will race for the first time since the Clasica San Sebastian at the Giro della Toscana one-day race on Wednesday. On Monday he caught up with friends in northern Italy where he was based before joining Team Ineos and moving to Andorra.
He is expected to also ride the Coppa Sabatini race in Tuscany on Thursday and the Memorial Marco Pantani at the weekend. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Bernal will also race the Giro dell'Emilia, GP Bruno Beghelli, Tre Valli Varesine and Milano-Torino before ending his season with Il Lombardia on October 12.
Nibali: 'I'm not on top form'
Vincenzo Nibali opted out of selection for the Italian team after returning from the Canadian WorldTour races in Québec and Montréal on Monday.
The Italian won a stage of the 2014 Tour de France in Sheffield to spark his overall victory that year but has put aside any sense of nostalgia, admitting he does not have the form to deserve even a supporting role in the eight-rider Italian team for a World Championships suited to Classics riders.
"The Italian Azzurra jersey is sacred for me, you have to show respect. I'm not on top form and so it's not right I take someone else's place," Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Italy is expected to build its team around Matteo Trentin, with Sonny Colbrelli and Diego Ulissi as alternative leaders. Colbrelli did not stand out in the Canada races but is suited to the rolling Yorkshire course and likes to race in the rain.
Ulissi finished fourth in Québec and second in Montréal, raising his leadership status in the Squadra Azzurra. Italian national coach Davide Cassani will name his final eight riders next Monday after the Memorial Marco Pantani.
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