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Caleb Ewan kicked to an emphatic victory in stage 1 of the Tour of Germany and landed a stinging rebuke to his Australian national federation.
Lotto Soudal speedster Ewan surged to his first win in four months Thursday, just days after he learned he’d been bypassed by selectors for the road worlds in Wollongong.
“This one felt really good! Especially after the bad news that I won’t be at my home world championships this year,” Ewan wrote on social media.
“To be honest I don’t have much to say on the matter other than I’m heartbroken I won’t be there to represent my country and that I believe I deserved to be there. Anyways, sob story over.”
- Ewan to miss selection for world road championships
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AusCycling pulled the handbrake hard on Ewan’s season-long ambition to race for rainbows on home soil in September.
The 28-year-old held the race in his scopes since courses were confirmed and saw salvation from a winless Giro d’Italia and Tour de France on a hilly course that would stretch his skillset to near snapping point.
Ewan learned from officials earlier this week that a bleak season studded with illness and injury would see him sitting out road worlds.
Full confirmation of Australia’s men’s eight was subsequently delayed as two unnamed riders launched appeals against the team’s initial selection.
Australia road worlds team: Matthews, Hindley, Spratt lead selections
AusCycling finally confirmed Friday its men’s road race team would be headlined by Michael Matthews, Jai Hindley, Luke Plapp, and Ben O’Connor.
Ewan’s name was notable in its absence.
“This was a very difficult selection as we have such a big and talented pool of athletes to select from,” Rory Sutherland, Australian team road coordinator, said Friday.
“Athletes are always proud to race in the green and gold; doing so on home soil is a dream that probably comes once in a lifetime. I’m excited for the group that has been assembled.”
Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Nick Schultz and Heinrich Haussler complete the Australia crew. Rohan Dennis was unavailable for selection due to family reasons.
Matthews could be Australia’s best chance in Wollongong. The 31-year-old sizzled all summer and scored a stunning stage victory at the Tour de France. The puncheur’s course in New South Wales suits the Canberra native nicely.
“Winning the U23 world title on home soil was really a dream come true coming into the pros. Now, having it back in Australia again when I’m really at the top of my game is a dream come true,” Matthews said.
“We have a great team for a course like this. This course suits Australians really well, for the races that we grew up doing. I think it was quite difficult for the selectors to put it down to a group of eight guys, but they’ve done a great job and I think the team’s going to be super strong.”
The women’s team will be led by former world bronze and silver medallist Amanda Spratt.
“It’s always an honor and privilege to wear the green and gold, so I am so excited to be named in the team for my 10th world championships,’’ she said.
“Even more special is that it is a home World Championships that covers roads I grew up training on. My first ever senior worlds were in Geelong, so I know how amazing it is to have this event on home soil and the impact it can have.”
The team also brings recently crowned Commonwealth Games road race champion Georgia Baker, as well as the in-form Alex Manly. Both will be good options if it comes down to any kind of bunch sprint, with Sarah Roy providing another alternative as well as a strong lead-out.
FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope riders Brodie Chapman and Grace Brown were two of the stars of the spring and give the team plenty of attacking options on the hilly course. Continental champion Josie Talbot rounds out the women’s selection.
Ewan: ‘I kept believing in myself’
The 28-year-old will keep hunting victories and invaluable UCI points as Lotto Soudal looks to secure its future in the WorldTour.
“I am really happy to finish it off here after a long period without victories,” Ewan said in Germany on Thursday.
“This stage win tastes really sweet following some pretty average months. I kept believing in myself and also my team always supported me. So I am happy to be back to winning ways and give the team this Deutschland Tour stage victory.”
Australia women’s team for road worlds:
Georgia Baker (Northern Districts Cycling Club, TAS – debut*)
Grace Brown (St Kilda CC, VIC – 3rd appearance)
Brodie Chapman (University of Queensland CC, QLD – 4th appearance)
Alexandra Manly (Central Districts CC, SA – debut)
Sarah Roy (Parklife CC, NSW – 6th appearance)
Amanda Spratt (Penrith CC, NSW – 10th appearance)
Josie Talbot (Camden CC, NSW – debut)
Australia men’s team for road worlds:
Simon Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield CC, VIC – 11th appearance*)
Luke Durbridge (Midland CC, WA – 8th appearance)
Heinrich Haussler (Inverell CC, NSW – 6th appearance)
Jai Hindley (Midland CC, WA – 2nd appearance)
Michael Matthews (Vikings CC, ACT – 10th appearance)
Ben O’Connor (Peel District CC, WA – debut)
Lucas Plapp (Brunswick CC, VIC – debut)
Nicholas Schultz (Sunshine Coast CC, QLD – 4th appearance)