There’s a very short roll call for Australian riders competing at the UCI track world championships this week. With travel restrictions severely impacting national team representation, only five riders will wear the green and gold jersey in Roubaix.


“Due to the ongoing nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions, AusCycling will not be sending riders from Australia to participate in national team campaigns or projects outside of Australia before 31 January 2022.”


That statement was included in the release about which Australian riders will be contesting the worlds in Roubaix, France. Since early in 2020, we have grown accustomed to such news and although it’s a shame that so many world-class riders remain in Australia while there’s racing for gold medals and rainbow jerseys, we understand the logic.


The fab five who will ride on the boards of the indoor velodrome in Roubaix are Georgia Baker (TAS), Nettie Edmondson (SA), Alex Manly (SA), Kelland O’Brien (VIC) and Luke Plapp (VIC). And that is the end of the roll call.


Five endurance riders, zero sprinters. And a mix of youth and experience from ‘our’ quintet who have been based in Europe since they concluded their Olympic campaign earlier this year.


It’s a far cry from how it used to be in an Olympic year, when the track worlds have traditionally preceded the Games and therefore been a major priority for national teams in advance of the quadrennial sports carnival. In 2021, it’s something of an ad-hoc approach without the possibility of lining up for events like the team pursuit, which has long been a focal point of the Australian Cycling Team.


Still, track cycling offers great entertainment and the worlds always conjure quality racing, and there’s no reason for it to be any different in 2021 even if there are only five Aussies in the mix.


Be sure to tune in to SBS On Demand to follow the action live from Roubaix, starting from tomorrow evening (in France). Coverage on SBS is from 21-25 October. For more, see:



– By Rob Arnold