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Australian cyclist Mathew Hayman says Michael Matthews is one of the favourites for world championship

Michael Matthews is one of the favourites for the world title. Photo: Chris GraythenAustralian road captain Mathew Hayman says fellow Canberran Michael Matthews is one of the favourites to claim the world title, but admits it’s “borderline” whether they should even be racing.
Nanjing Night Net

There’s been talk the brutal conditions would cause the 257-kilometre course to be shortened, but Hayman feels too much “face” would be lost if that occurred.

Matthews got his Tour de France monkey off his back this year, winning his first stage in the famous race after a couple of injury-ruined editions, and Hayman felt he was good enough to go one better than the silver medal he won at the worlds last year.

But Hayman said those chances depended on how the anticipated tough weather affected the race.

With 35-degree heat and strong crosswinds expected, it could see the field get whittled down to a reduced-bunch sprint despite the flat course – something that would suit Matthews to a tea.

Hayman said Matthews was their plan A – reassuring for “Bling”, who thought he could’ve won the title last year if he wasn’t racing against fellow Aussie Simon Gerrans – while young-gun Caleb Ewan was another option.

Defending champion Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, Nacer Bouhanni and Andre Greipel will also be looking to claim the rainbow jersey.

“We’ve got a strong team here. After his season that he’s had and last year Michael Matthews is probably one of the favourites, but there’s some stiff competition out there,” Hayman said.

“Michael’s got the full support of the team, as he did last year, and we’ve also got Caleb Ewan in the team – a young guy who is very, very fast, but hasn’t probably performed at this level over these distances.”

Already there’s been cases of riders crashing at the worlds due to heat exhaustion, raising questions why the event has been held in a country where the small crowds indicate little interest in the sport.

There’s been talk the men’s race could get reduced to make it less taxing.

“I can’t see that happening, too many people have invested in having this race. I think it would be a bit of a loss of face if they tried to shorten the race,” Hayman said.

“It’s very extreme conditions and it’s going to be very, very testing and trying for everybody … [but] I think it would’ve had to be quite a bit hotter to [change the race].

“That being said I think it’s borderline on something we should or shouldn’t be doing.”

UCI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 

Sunday: Men’s road race in Doha, Qatar, from 6.30pm. Live on SBS2 from 10.20pm.

Australian team: Zak Dempster, Luke Durbridge, Mitchell Docker, Caleb Ewan, Steele von Hoff, Heinrich Haussler, Mathew Hayman, Michael Matthews, Mark Renshaw.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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