Brown, Matthews boost cycling worlds hopes

·3-min read

Key Australian team members Grace Brown and Michael Matthews have shown their form with strong results ahead of the world road cycling championships in Wollongong.

Brown, the Commonwealth Games time trial gold medallist, won stage three of the Ceratizit Challenge, run in conjunction with the Vuelta a Espana.

Matthews finished runner-up to Benoit Cosnefroy of France at the one-day Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec.

Brown and Matthews will be key medal hopes at the Wollongong worlds, south of Sydney.

But the conroversial decision to leave Caleb Ewan out of the team is certain to fester, with his camp fuming at the sprint ace's omission.

For now, Ewan has kept his comments to obvious disappointment at not making the team for the worlds, a key objective for him this year.

The lack of further comment from his camp may or may not change, with the men's elite road race to end the worlds from September 18-25.

Ewan's non-selection and the withdrawal of time trial medal favourite Rohan Dennis for family reasons were the eyebrow-raising features of the team, announced on August 26.

Instead of basing the men's road race team around Ewan, selectors essentially have gone for a two-pronged strategy that reflects the hilly classics nature of the course.

Giro d'Italia winner Jai Hindley and "puncheur" Michael Matthews will be their key medal hopes, with Ben O'Connor, Lucas Plapp and Nick Schultz also potential podium options depending on how the race unfolds.

Matthews has had a dearth of race wins - only two since 2020, but the most recent was a major return to form in July when he took out stage 14 of the Tour de France.

By contrast, for all his injury and form problems, Ewans has had 12 wins in the last two years and was a runner-up last year at the Milan-Sanremo classic.

There were two unnamed selection appeals before the Australian team was made public. It is understood Ewan was not one of them.

Brown is one of the key riders in a powerful Australian women's team that showed its cohesion by dominating the women's road race at the Commonwealth Games road race with faultless teamwork.

Georgia Baker won the road race and fellow Games team members Brodie Chapman, Alex Manly and Sarah Roy will also join her and Brown in Wollongong.

The only member of the Games team not racing in Wollongong is Ruby Roseman-Gannon.

Amanda Spratt joins the team to add considerable firepower, having twice finished on the worlds road race podium, and Josie Talbot will make her worlds debut.

The worlds should attract a strong international field, although some riders are not coming because of cost.

Another issue is professional teams needing riders to stay in Europe and earn points to try and avoid relegation from the World Tour.

In-form Dane Mads Pedersen, the 2019 world road race champion, will not travel to Wollongong and he cited the need to rest after a hectic season.