Matthews retraces steps to claim more cycling ‘bling’ on home turf

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“There are some very strong bike riders out there, I am not going to lie. The two favourites for the day, I think, are probably Wout [van Aert] and Tadej [Pogacar], they’re very strong at the moment. They’ll be the key guys trying to make the race and I will just be doing my thing, to make sure I can try and get on top.”

Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley also confirmed he would line up with the Australian team despite having COVID last week.

Meanwhile, leaders in the Australian women’s team say wet weather forecast for Saturday’s elite road race will change the nature of the race, but won’t dampen their confidence of putting a rider onto the podium.

Heavy rain fell throughout the under-19 and under-23 road races in Wollongong on Friday, leading to a number of falls and crashes. More rain is expected on Saturday before clearing for Sunday’s men’s race, but on a gruelling course, the weather is likely to make the women’s race even more “energy-sapping” and attritional, according to Brodie Chapman.

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“Everyone will just be a bit more cautious … and obviously there is a higher risk of crashing, that’s just how it is,” Chapman said.

“Slippery roads and unpredictable surfaces, there is a higher risk of crashing. But the professional peloton, we race in the rain a lot. We often race in the spring and when it is bucketing from start to finish. Hopefully, we know how to handle ourselves, but maybe just a bit slower in some sections.

Michael Matthews after winning stage 14 of the Tour de France this year.

Michael Matthews after winning stage 14 of the Tour de France this year.Credit:AP

“It certainly makes it a bit more attritional, because you do have to focus a lot more. Also, you use a bit more energy. It just saps your energy and, in a race like this, you want to conserve energy.”

The Australian team won the Commonwealth Games road race gold medal with sprinter Georgia Baker, but say the World Championships will be less about controlling the race with a fixed plan, and more about reacting to moves made by others. The team will look to put the in-form Grace Brown into medal contention, just six days after she won a silver in the time trial.

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