Selectors for the Australian world championship road race team have caused a small stir by not selecting Robbie McEwen or Mark Renshaw in the host nation’s line-up.
Instead Allan Davis and Matt Goss occupy the main sprinters’ roles in the team with the rest of the nine man squad comprising all-rounders, workhorses and climbers.
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The road race takes place on October 3 between Melbourne and the City of Geelong. Although the urban finishing circuit in Geelong features a climb midway through each lap, a sprint finish is a realistic prospect.
Renshaw has shown his worth in the bunch sprints this year, leading out Mark Cavendish for three of his victories in the Tour de France. In August’s Tour of Denmark he took a win for himself – his first in two years.
Commentating on his non selection, Renshaw posted on Twitter: “Very disappointed to not race on home turf and a little surprised at their selection.”
In a following post he added: “Looking forward to racing and trying to win Comm Games RR. Next yrs objective to be the sprinter [at the world road race championships] in Denmark. Promising more results in 2011.”
Whether this means he’ll be less committed to leading out Mark Cavendish next year, we’ll have to wait and see. Suggestions that he might have had split loyalties at the World Championship was perhaps a factor in his non selection.
Robbie McEwen’s non-selection was equally disappointing for the rider.
“I don’t think there are 9 Aussies better suited to Geelong course than myself,” he tweeted. “Proving to be a bitter pill this one.”
Although McEwen is now 38 and has been slow to get going this year, he has recently found form. On the first stage of the Eneco Tour last week, he took victory in an uphill gallop ahead of Davis in third place. The finish in Geelong is similarly on a rising slope.
However, if McEwen feels the selectors are missing a trick by including Davis or Baden Cooke -who’ve not won races this year- over him, they are bang on the money in naming Goss in the squad.
The HTC rider has emerged as a good candidate for the World title, following up stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and Tour of Denmark with victory on Sunday in the Grand Prix of Plouay.
At 248km and on an undulating circuit used for the World Championships in 2000, there are obvious parallels to be drawn with this year’s Worlds.
What the Aussie team haven’t done is put all their eggs in one basket and banked on the race only coming down to a sprint. Plucky all-rounders Simon Gerrans and Michael Rogers are also named in the squad, as of course is defending World Champion Cadel Evans.
Stuart O’Grady, Matt Hayman and Wesley Sulzberger complete the nine man line-up, while an injured Heinrich Haussler -who recently switched from a German to Australian licence with the Melbourne championships in mind- is another notable absentee from the list.
Rogers and Richie Porte will represent Australia in the time trial.