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Matthews and Ewan to lead Australian men's squad at World Championships

SAINTLARYSOULAN COL DU PORTET FRANCE JULY 14 Michael Matthews of Australia and Team BikeExchange and Teammates at start during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 17 a 1784km stage from Muret to SaintLarySoulan Col du Portet 2215m LeTour TDF2021 on July 14 2021 in SaintLarySoulan Col du Portet France Photo by Chris GraythenGetty Images
Michael Matthews at the Tour de France (Image credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Michael Matthews, Caleb Ewan, Amanda Spratt, Tiffany Cromwell and Chloe Hosking will lead the Australian men's and women's national teams at the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders in mid-September.

AusCycling has named a 20-rider squad that also includes Luke Plapp and Carter Turnbull for the under-23 men’s time trial and will use the September races as key build-up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Great Britain and then the 2022 UCI Road World Championships on home roads in Wollongong. 

COVID-19 travel restrictions have impacted team selection, with most riders currently racing in Europe. 

Also in the men’s squad to support Matthews and Ewan are Luke Durbridge, Miles Scotson, Nicholas Schultz, Harry Sweeny, Robert Stannard and Nathan Haas.

AusCycling did not specify if Durbridge and other riders such as Rohan Dennis will ride the elite time trials, nor if Australia will field a team in the team time mixed relay.

Hosking joins forces with Cromwell and Spratt after a difficult return to form after suffering COVID-19. However, she showed her form by winning the final stage of the Ladies Tour of Norway. Also selected for the women’s squad are Sarah Roy, Lauretta Hanson, Brodie Chapman and Jess Allen. 

Australia will send a three-rider team to the men’s under-23 road race, with Jarrad Drizners, Jensen Plowright, and Alastair MacKellar selected after all racing the recent Tour de L’Avenir or elsewhere in Europe.

The 268-kilometre men's and 156-kilometre women's road races begin in Antwerp before taking in multiple passes of several tricky circuits around the town of Leuven to the east of Brussels. The under-23 men's road race will be held on a 160.9-kilometre course, also from Antwerp to Leuven.

The twisting road races do not include the famous Flemish climbs but the series of circuits and narrow roads includes 42 climbs and 2,562 vertical metres in the men's race, and 20 climbs for 1,047m of climbing in the women's race. The time trials will be held between Knokke-Heist and Bruges. 

The elite men’s time trial kicks off the Road World Championships on Sunday September 19, with the women’s road race on Saturday September 25 and the men’s event the day after.   

"The World Championship course in the Flanders region of Belgium will provide for a challenging and exciting race," said Rory Sutherland, Australian Cycling Team’s Elite Road Coordinator.  

"The 2021 Australian team is a unique combination of experienced veterans and debutant athletes from the rising generation, and we feel confident this combination will lead to a positive outcome. 

"We are excited our talented U23 riders will now have the opportunity to compete on the world stage after a year's pause due to COVID-19. It's incredibly important to the future of AusCycling and the development of our next crop of Australian riders." 

Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Road World Championships with reports, photo galleries, news and interviews.