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Report: Caleb Ewan to miss out on selection for world road championships

Former pro Robbie McEwen: ‘Stick him in there to see how he gets on, just in case he can survive.’

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Caleb Ewan may have long viewed the world championships on home soil as a target for him but it appears the Lotto Soudal rider will not be selected for the Australian team for the event.

Belgian publication Het Nieuwsblad is reporting that national team selector Rory Sutherland has informed the sprinter that he will not be part of the team, nor indeed on the list of substitutions. Instead, Michael Matthews appears set to be one of the leaders.

Ewan is one of the best Australian riders in the peloton and was part of the promotion for the race. He appeared in a social media post during last year’s world championships in Belgium, talking about the chance of racing in Australia.

“It is something that I have been thinking about for years now,” he said then. “I am happy I am here in Flanders to get some experience and race the world championships with the team here. Hopefully next year I will be a bit more experienced in it.

“Like I said, it is something that I have been thinking about for a few years now, ever since they announced it was going to be in Wollongong. I haven’t seen the course yet but I’m hoping it is something that will suit me.”

Aside from the chance to try to take the rainbow jersey, he said he had an additional reason to feel an emotional draw to the race.

“Wollongong is right near where I grew up. So I have trained on a lot of those roads before. It will be so special, so close to where I grew up and racing one of the biggest races in the world.”

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The course was originally thought to be suited to sprinters, but over time this has changed. Ewan expressed disappointment with this in January, but reaffirmed his intention to compete in the race and to perform strongly.

“I did hear that the UCI wanted a sprint. Wollongong didn’t want a sprint, because it would suit an Australian, so I’m a bit disappointed in that,” he told the Australian news agency AAP. “I will prove them wrong anyway and I will try to win anyway.”

“It’s not too hard – I can definitely do it – but it’s not going to be as straightforward as if it was a bit easier. I’m up for the challenge and if there’s a sprinter who can do it, I think it’s me. I have (more) motivation than anyone else, so I will be ready and hopefully, win.”

Since then things haven’t gone to plan for the rider. He clocked up wins in Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour of Turkey, the Saudi Tour, and the Tour des Alpes Maritimes de du Var, and was also second in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and Elfstedenronde Brugge.

However, he had a bad crash on stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia and was affected by injury during the race. He also fell twice during the Tour de France and had a similarly frustrating experience there. His best placing was eighth on the final stage on Champs Élysées.

He has competed twice since the Tour. He pulled out of the Circuit Franco-Belge before the finish and then netted 88th in the Bemer Cyclassics last week. He is due to start the Deutschland Tour on Tuesday.

Speaking on Eurosport, former Australian pro Robbie McEwen said that he saw merit in allowing Ewan to line out at the worlds.

“On one side, I can look at it in terms of form throughout this season and buildup toward the worlds and say maybe it’s not surprising that he hasn’t been put in the team,” he said Tuesday. “But then, on the other hand, he is a quality rider, he still has a few weeks. He’s had a lot of bad luck this season. He was involved in a crash again just the other day in the race in Hamburg, so didn’t get to put his best foot forward.

“I found it pretty strange that he didn’t make the selection at all. It is even stranger he didn’t even make the reserves list. It begs the question of who do you put in that is capable of shaping the race that would warrant not putting Caleb in? Just stick him in there to see how he gets on, just in case he can survive.”

However, it is possible that more is to come on the matter. National federation AusCycling has announced that there is an appeals process currently in place. It did not name the riders in question.

“Confirmation of Australia’s team for the 2022 UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong will be delayed while two selection appeals are heard,” it said in a statement. “The appeals – which are a normal part of the selection process – will be considered by an independent arbitrator over the next few days.

“Once the result of the appeals is known, Australian selectors will meet to determine the final team for the Championships, which will begin on September 18.”

The federation’s Executive General Manager of Performance Jesse Korf said that an announcement on the team is expected to be made next week.