Looking for a spot on the Aussie worlds team? I would say your best bet is to avoid winning a stage at the ENECO Tour. Robbie McEwen—wins stage one, not invited. Jack Bobridge—wins Stage 5, not invited. Granted, McEwen’s been having the worst season of his long career with just one other win, and that’s still one more than Bobridge had notched (before yesterday) since turning pro.
With the official selection just hours away, some fairly serious brain cells are being burnt in pursuit of diving the home team’s startlist at the over-a-month-away World Championships—which is kind of amazing. It wasn’t too long ago that this part of the season was a wasteland, people begging for the Vuelta to bring something back into the headlines, with the World Title as something of an afterthought.
In 2005, I even attributed part of the Rainbow Curse to the falling stature of Worlds among cyclists—even the great one-day riders seemed focused on the Tour, and only the historically-snubbed made a concerted effort for lArc-en-Ciel. Safe to say things have turned around a bit since then.
While my thoughts on competition along national lines remains unchanged, I have to say I do enjoy the additional wrinkle national squads add to the UCI’s big event. We could very likely see three riders from the same squad on the podium at Melbourne this October; certainly Matt Goss made a convincing case for team leadership at GP Plouay, Greipel has already been tabbed as the German hope, and an anemic British squad has no choice but the rockstar himself.
If the HTC boys can pull it off, it would be the second time in a decade that Australian soil has played host to such a spectacle—though given the animosity between Cav and Greipel, it would almost certain have to be honestly contested this time around.