The announcement of the Australian team for the upcoming world championships in Wollongong which was due yesterday has been delayed because of appeals by two riders but the elite men’s selection is apparently unaffected…


– By Rob Arnold


Local interest in the 2022 UCI Road World Championships is building but appeals by two riders in contention for selection for the Australian team have forced a delay in the official announcement of who will wear the green and gold jersey in Wollongong when racing begins in 25 days.

Riders in contention for a spot on the ‘home’ team for the championships were advised of their selection last week, allowing time for appeals in advance of the formal announcement which is now slated for some time “next week”.

RIDE Media understands that the original list of nominations for Australia’s men’s team will remain unchanged, with several obvious candidates expected to line up for the final event on the 11-race program, the 266.9km elite men’s road race on Sunday 25 September.

Rory Sutherland, the former rider who is now Road Coordinator for AusCycling was contacted late yesterday but he is currently on a family holiday and declined to comment. There has, however, been correspondence with some riders to confirm that their selection is not under threat and they should continue with their planned preparations for the championships (18-25 September).

Michael Matthews wins the under-23 road race of the 2010 world championships in Geelong. (Photo: Jeff Crow)

Matthews set for a 10th elite road race start

There are likely to be a few surprise omissions for the elite men’s road race, which is normal for a country that is stacked with cycling talent. Still, the nature of the course – which includes almost 4,000 metres of climbing and 12 laps of the ‘city circuit’ – has prompted careful consideration of who is most likely to prosper for the Australian team.

Michael Matthews, a stage winner in this year’s Tour de France, is said to be confident of a place in the Australian team. Twice a medallist in the elite road race (silver in 2015, and bronze in 2017), Matthews was also the only local winner when the road worlds were first contested in Australia.

In 2010, five days after his 20th birthday, Matthews claimed gold in the under-23 road race in Geelong. He has since competed for Australia in the elite road race at the worlds nine times in the last 11 seasons, finishing in the top 10 four times (including two podiums) and not finishing the race twice, in 2012 of 2013.

Matthews will start the Maryland Cycling Classic (4 September) in the United States before going to Canada for the GP de Québec (9 September) and GP de Montréal (11 September).

“My last race in the United States was at the world championship (Richmond 2015), and I am looking forward to meeting our American fans again,” said the 31-year-old from Team BikeExchange-Jayco in a press release from the race organisers on the day the national team for the worlds was meant to be announced.

“We have a strong team going there and, looking at the course, it seems to be set up for a different type of racing.”

Ben O’Connor is expected to be part of the Australian team for the elite road race, the final event of the 2022 world championships in Wollongong. (Photo: Charly Lopez, via ASO)

Hindley and O’Connor expected to race in Wollongong

Baring injuries or illness in the coming weeks, Jai Hindley and Ben O’Connor are two other riders who Australian fans can expect to see on the start line in Helensburgh on 25 September. Both are currently contesting the Vuelta a España, with O’Connor placing sixth in stage four when racing resumed in Spain after a Dutch start for the opening weekend of the final Grand Tour of 2022.

“I felt super good today,” explained O’Connor in the AG2R Team Citroën’s stage summary.

“I was happy to make the sprint… I just need to take a bit more confidence and commit to the line because sometimes I just get a bit caught back.”

Australia’s first Giro d’Italia champion, Jai Hindley, is expected to start the worlds in Wollongong. (Photo: Sprint Cycling, via Bora-Hansgrohe)

Hindley, the first Australian winner of the Giro d’Italia, also showed himself in the first hilltop finish of La Vuelta. He finished 10th in stage four at Laguardia, won by the Vuelta’s defending champion Primoz Roglic who also inherited the red leader’s jersey with his victory.

Racing his second Grand Tour of the season for Bora-Hansgrohe, Hindley is one of a trio of GC riders for the German-registered team that has already won two of the first four Vuelta stages (thanks to the sprint successes of Irishman Sam Bennett).

“Sergio [Higuita] was not at his best today,” said Hindley of his Colombian team-mate after stage four. “Normally such a finale would have suited him very well.

“On the finishing straight, I tried to help Wilco [Kelderman] as much as possible and, in the end, we were both in the top 10.”

Heinrich Haussler first raced the worlds as a junior back in 2001. He is said to be one of the eight starters for the Australian team in the elite men’s road race on 25 September. (Photo: Zac Williams)

Haussler expected to start as ‘road captain’

Another Australian rider we can expect to see racing at the worlds in 2022 is Heinrich Haussler, the 38-year-old veteran of 18 seasons in the elite ranks. He competed in the BEMER Cyclassics on the weekend, finishing 38th in the race won by Austria’s Marco Haller of Bora-Hansgrohe. The runner-up in the German race is a title favourite for #Wollongong2022, Wout van Aert of Belgium.

Haussler will be a strong asset on the Australian team. He hasn’t had the best results in 2022 but he is always motivated when he puts on the green and gold jersey. His role is likely to be ‘road captain’, a job he has excelled at in the past – both with trade teams and national teams.

Born in Inverell, Haussler originally competed internationally with a German racing licence because of his family heritage. One of two Australians on the 2022 Bahrain-Victorious roster, he made his world championship debut as a junior 21 years ago in Portugal back in 2001.

Haussler contested three world championships for Germany (in the junior and under-23 ranks) before switching national team allegiances and making his debut for Australia as an elite rider in 2011, when he played a pivotal role in the lead-out for the silver medallist in Copenhagen, Matt Goss.

Jack Haig would have been a candidate for the worlds in 2022 but he is still impacted by a complex wrist fracture sustained in a crash at the TDF this July. (Photo: Aurelien Vialatte, via ASO)

Haig still hindered by injury

Had the season played out as planned, Jack Haig would have been an obvious candidate for the Australian team for the world championships. A climber of repute, he is one of the current generation of GC riders from Australia but he is still recovering from “multiple non-displaced wrist fractures” sustained in a nasty crash in stage five of the Tour de France this July.

Haig hasn’t returned to Australia since the start of the 2016 season when he finished fifth overall in the Jayco-Herald Sun Tour won by Chris Froome. That was the last race he contested on Australian soil and Wollongong would have provided a fine opportunity for a homecoming, but his injury from the Tour is complex and he still needs time to recover.

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While it would have been ideal for AusCycling to have announced the national teams for the world championships as planned, the two appeals – which RIDE Media understands both relate to the women’s team selection – mean we still must wait for the full rider roster to be made public.

It’ll be a few more days before we know the composition of the Australian team and one thing is certain: there will be riders for all circumstances in the mix, and the selectors seem to be banking on the climbs of the city circuit reducing the likelihood of the elite road races finishing with a bunch sprint.

We wait for news about the appeals and, in the meantime, echo the message sent by Rory Sutherland to riders who have been advised that they will not be impacted by the appeals: “Full steam ahead! Good luck with the racing and training.”

– By Rob Arnold