Caleb Ewan had made a major target of the World Championships road race on his home soil but he could miss out in a shock non-selection by the Australian team.
According to reports in Belgian newspapers, the 28-year-old sprinter was not part of Rory Sutherland's selection for the elite men's road race, which takes place on a hilly Wollongong circuit on September 25.
Australia's full line-up was expected to have been announced by now but has been held up by appeals from two non-selected riders. The identity of those riders was not disclosed.
Ewan has reportedly been told he will not be able to target the rainbow jersey, nor play any part whatsoever. The Lotto Soudal rider has endured a difficult season, winning five races in the opening months but failing to raise his arms since April, notably going luckless and winless at both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.
That absence of demonstrable form may have contributed to doubts over his chances at Worlds. The other question mark surrounds the parcours in Wollongong and whether the 12 ascents of the steep 1.1km climb of Mount Pleasant, helping towards a total of almost 4000 metres of elevation gain, will prove too much for a pure sprinter.
Ewan has proven himself capable on punchy inclines in recent years and his hopes of victory at Milan-San Remo earlier this year - another of his major season targets - may have solidified his place, but he was ruled out of the Italian Classic by illness.
"If I’m honest, it’s harder than I’d want, but I think it’s definitely something within my capabilities. I’ll have to be going very, very good to be able to win there, but that’s my plan," Ewan said of the Worlds course during the off-season.
"I did hear the UCI wanted a sprint, but Wollongong didn’t because it would suit an Australian, so I’m a bit disappointed in that. I’ll prove them wrong and try to win anyway. I’m up for a challenge and if there’s a sprinter who can do it, then it’s me."
Michael Matthews, who won a hilly stage to Mende at the recent Tour de France, is expected to play a leading role for Australia at Worlds, where he has twice finished on the podium.
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Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist, and former deputy editor of Cyclingnews, who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.