High hopes for Aussie men at road World Championships
23 September 2015
CYCLING: Eleven of Australia's best will line up on the Richmond start line this week at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships being held in the Virginian capital from September 20-27.
2014 silver medallist Simon Gerrans (VIC) and 2010 under-23 World Champion Michael Matthews (ACT) headline the road race team that includes returning team members Simon Clarke (VIC), Adam Hansen (QLD), Mathew Hayman (ACT), and reigning Australian Champion Heinrich Haussler (NSW).
Former under 23 representatives Mitchell Docker (VIC/Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jay McCarthy (QLD/Tinkoff-Saxo) will make their debut in the elite men's team.
Luke Durbridge (WA/Orica-GreenEDGE) will ride both the road race and time trial, while Rohan Dennis (SA/BMC) and Michael Hepburn (QLD/Orica-GreenEDGE) line up in the battle against the clock.
The elite men will don their national colours firstly on Wednesday with the 53-kilometre individual time trial.
Dennis, Durbridge and Hepburn have all stood on the podium in the discipline in the under 23 ranks. Dennis the winner of the only individual time trial at the Tour de France this year, Oceania Champion Hepburn and former under 23 World champion Durbridge will be hoping to continue their development against the clock.
"Rohan Dennis is riding a wave of momentum this year and it is our aim, as the national team, to fully support him in the best way possible," said Elite Men's Road Director Bradley McGee of Australia's time trial ambitions.
"I am also impressed that both Heppy and Durbo have presented themselves in great condition, with hands held high for participation noting that there are no free rides in a world championships and their performance will be closely analysed."
2015 has been a stand out season for Dennis, who claimed overall honours at the Tour Down under in January, before setting a new UCI Hour Record of 52.491 kilometres the following month. In July Dennis took out the opening time trial stage at the Tour de France, becoming just the seventh Australian to wear the famed yellow jersey in the process.
"Winning the opening time trial at the Tour de France, which put me in the yellow is the biggest achievement on the bike, in my career to date," Dennis revealed to Cycling Australia. "Winning a stage of the biggest cycling race in the world is huge but leading it even for a day is something most only dream of."
Dennis has spent the past month racing and training in the United States, winning two stages and taking the overall victory at the USA Pro Challenge. "It's a big bonus already being in America for a month before the race. It means no problems with jet lag or a different climate.
"I usually don't have a problem with these things but eliminating that possibility eliminates the chance of it actually being an issue.
"My preparation for worlds has been a little different to other years. I've had a big altitude training block and only a 7-day tour in there. We are trying to find what the best prep is for myself leading into a big TT."
The men's road race, the final event of the championships on Sunday September 27, covers 259 kilometres, sixteen laps of the 16.2 kilometre Downtown Richmond inner-city. The final four kilometres includes three cobbled climbs.
First the 200 metre cobbled Libby Hill Park climb, followed by a descent heading in to a 100 metre cobbled climb up 23rd Street. Over the top riders descend to Governor Street and a 300 climb before a final false flat section of around 700 metres to the finish.
"The road race course will be deceptive in difficulty in comparison to how the profile reads and will, once again, be somewhat a race of attrition as the kilometres slide past 220," explained McGee. "We are in a very fortunate era to not only have experienced and battle ready athletes, but to have these athletes willing and eager to ride for their country.
"Each of our nine riders in the road race will have essential roles and it will be how well they can combine that will decide our overall success.
"I look forward to our fresh faces in McCarthy and Docker absorbing as much learning as possible from their elders in anticipation for future campaign successes.
"I am also looking forward to getting the whole team together next week and putting the strategies together with the guys," explained McGee.