Roger Vaughan / AAP News
Australia’s best cyclists and ready to be bold, brave and brilliant in Birmingham.
Having weathered his Giro from hell, Australian cycling star Caleb Ewan is banking on the Commonwealth Games providing some gold medal heaven.
Ewan, Grace Brown, Rohan Dennis and Matthew Glaetzer headline the Australian cycling team of 34 riders for the Birmingham Games.
While there are plenty of familiar names and obvious gold medal prospects, such as Ewan in the road race, the squad also features 23 Commonwealth Games debutants.
The track squad, in particular, is in a major reset among riders and coaching staff after the barren Tokyo Olympics campaign.
Ewan will compete in the road race on August 7, the second-last day of the Games, and this will give him plenty of time to freshen up after the July 1-July 24 Tour de France.
The sprint ace will go into the Tour determined to make amends after disastrous ends to his most recent Grand Tour starts.
Ewan crashed out of the Tour last year with a badly-broken collarbone and a crash early in last month’s Giro d’Italia also cruelled his chances.
He eventually pulled out as planned midway through the Giro, famously won by compatriot Jai Hindley, but without any stage wins for himself.
Just before leaving the race, Ewan posted that it had been a “Giro from hell” for him.
Ewan will lead a powerful men’s road team that also feature medal prospects Kaden Groves and Michael Matthews, meaning Australia will have plenty of tactical cards to play.
The same applies to the women’s road team, led by Brown, with Alex Manly also boasting strong European form.
Brown and Dennis will be among the favourites as well in the time trials.
In-form mountain biker Rebecca McConnell is a notable absentee, but she is concentrating on the World Cup circuit and will be unavailable.
While Dan McConnell will compete at his third Games in the cross-country event.
Hindley and Tour de France contender Ben O’Connor also do not feature in the road team.
But, as Ewan’s selection indicates, the road course at Birmingham is more suited to sprinters or classics specialists than climbers such as Hindley and O’Connor.
Another notable non-selection was road star Amanda Spratt, who is still regaining form after major surgery on a leg artery late last year.
Australia has been the top-ranked nation in cycling at the last seven Commonwealth Games.
Birmingham offers the chance for a reset, especially at the velodrome, after Australia only managed one bronze on the track at the Tokyo Olympics.
Apart from road, track and mountain bike, there will also be tandem Para-cycling events at the Games.
Jess Gallagher, the first Australian to win medals at a summer and winter Paralympics, will compete in Birmingham and she will form a powerful combination with pilot Caitlin Ward.
Road – Men: Rohan Dennis, Caleb Ewan, Kaden Groves, Michael Matthews, Miles Scotson. Women: Grace Brown, Brodie Chapman, Alex Manly, Ruby Roseman-Gannon, Sarah Roy.
Track – Men: Tom Cornish, Josh Duffy, Graeme Frislie, Matt Glaetzer, Leigh Hoffman, Conor Leahy, James Moriarty, Luke Plapp, Matthew Richardson. Women: Georgia Baker, Kristina Clonan, Sophie Edwards, Breanna Hargrave, Alessia McCaig, Chloe Moran, Maeve Plouffe, Alyssa Polites.
Mountain bike – Men: Sam Fox and Dan McConnell. Women: Zoe Cuthbert
Para-cycling, tandem – Beau Wootton and pilot Luke Zaccaria, Jess Gallagher and pilot Caitlin Ward.