So then. It’s now 5 weeks until the 2016 UCI World Road Championships in Doha on October 16. As has been well documented, the 257km course is pretty much flat, although often prone to pesky cross winds. Clearly it’s one for the sprinters for the first time in several years. But will team politics yet again scupper some of the top fancies?
Following last year’s ego-driven final lap debacle in Richmond, can the nine-man strong Aussies ride as a true team until the finale this year and – having filled the minor placings in 4 of the past 6 years – take that top step for just the second time in history (Cadel in 2009, if you’re wondering)?
On paper Michael Matthews and Caleb Ewan are surely Australia’s main men, with the ever-reliable Mark Renshaw no doubt the chief lead-out lieutenant in the closing kms. Problem is, as we know all too well from 2015 two leaders doesn’t tend to work very well for the green and gold.
We also know Gerro could have a key role to play in getting his Aussie/OBE team-mates to the finishing line first ahead of the likes of Cav et al. But after last year will the man from Mansfield be prepared play it? It will be fascinating to see if the Aussies even bother selecting him in their final nine-man squad. On form and talent Gerrans easily deserves to be there. But, well, you know, 2015????
Mind you, it isn’t just Australia balancing mega-egos. France will have fun juggling Demare, Bouhanni and Coquard. Arguably even trickier is the situation facing Germany. They’ve only qualified six riders, with Kittel, Greipel and Degenkolb all no doubt fancying their chances in the desert. If the Germans can park their egos and settle on a genuine team leader, they get our vote for the win. But it’s a big if.