The 84th UCI Road World Championships (the 'road worlds') kicked off last Sunday 17 September in the picturesque Norwegian town of Bergen. Once again, Australia has sent a strong team with a number of genuine podium prospects – 24 riders spread across the elite, under 23, and under 19 categories.
Catch all the action of the UCI Road World Championships tonight with the junior men first up at 5.30pm AEST then the women's road race at 9.30pm AEST streaming here. You can also watch the women's race on SBS Viceland from 10.40pm AEST.
The Cycling Australia (CA) team selection wasn't without controversy however. Commentators and fans alike puzzled over the inclusion of the lightly raced Heinrich Haussler (returning from knee surgery) in the men’s elite team. And there was widespread disappointment at the initial CA selection of a women’s elite team of only five, instead of the full team of seven allowed according to world rankings – CA selectors later decided to include Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan, after successful appeals by those riders.
The results of the remaining elite road races this weekend will give one measure of CA’s selection decisions for this year’s worlds. All eyes will be on the elite men’s and women’s road results, and there is sure to be additional criticism and questions asked of CA if the Australian teams underperform.
Australian riders have already made a strong showing in Bergen, through results which have so far included bronze medals for Madeleine Fasnacht (women’s junior ITT) and Katrin Garfoot (women’s elite ITT), Callum Scotson’s 5th (U23 ITT), and Rohan Dennis’ 8th in the men's elite ITT even after a crash.
Fasnacht was also sprinting for a medal in the junior women's road race until she was felled by another rider's wheel in the finale.
Australian cycling has a long and successful history on the Road World Championships stage. Indeed, it wasn't that long after the first UCI Road World Championships in 1927 (Nürburgring, Germany) Australian riders began to make their mark on the event.
The first Australian ‘road worlds’ riders
The first Australian competitors at the worlds was a group of three riders including Hubert ‘Oppy’ Opperman, Ernie Milliken, and Hefty Stuart, who raced the 216km ninth edition in 1935 (Florette, Belgium). Oppy had also been invited by the governing body of German cycling to enter the 1934 Worlds race in Leipzig. But it wasn't until the following year that he lined up against the world’s best (including 1934 World Champion Karl Kaeis, and French all-rounder Charles Pelassior) as one of three members of the Australian Malvern Star B.S.A. team.
Newspaper reports of the 1935 race reveal how it went for the Australian trio.
The race from the start was made fast by the powerful French team who at every opportunity tried to stampede the field. But the Belgium riders were not to be shaken off. At the half way mark and feeding station the whole field were still together, the three Australians riding with great dash and staying with the leader. At 80 miles, Ern Milliken punctured and fell which forced him to retire, leaving Stuart and Opperman to battle on. The powerful team work and sprinting ability of the French and Belgian riders was more than the two Australians could stand. And when the final sprint was over. Joseph Aerts (Belgium) proved the winner on points, Opperman eighth in six hours, six minutes and nine seconds while Stuart finished 10th in six hours and twelve minutes.
The Australians' performance was a promising debut.
Oppy’s own words in his 1977 Autobiography ‘Pedals, Politics, & People’ are interesting too:
“…we had entered for the World’s Championship of 135 mile at Florette, in Belgium. Some 335,000 people packed the inner and outer perimeter of the 8 ½-mile tough undulating circuit. I finished 8th with the second bunch of six. On return to England the roads were faster and my morale higher. I knew if I could hold the top Continentals in my first massed start I must have returned to top standard.”
Taking account of all road worlds races and categories, Australian cyclists have performed remarkably well over the years.
Our road race world champions include Jack Hoobin, the first Australian to win in 1950 (in the amateur race), and Cadel Evans in 2009. Other road world champions have included:
- Michael Rogers (TT 2003, 2004, 2005 )(U23 RR 2005)
- Jack Bobridge (U23 TT 2009)
- Michael Matthews (U23 RR 2009)
- Luke Durbridge (U23 TT 2011)
- Jessica Allen (Jnr TT 2011)
- Damien Howson (U23 TT 2013)
- Campbell Flakemore (U23 TT 2014
- Macey Stewart (Jr TT 2014)
Liz Tadich was the first Australian woman to win a worlds medal (silver) in 1997. Australia’s most successful female road worlds rider so far is Anna Wilson (silver in 1999 road race and time trial). Wilson was also the UCI world number one female rider in 1999 and 2001. Other women’s podiums include Oenone Wood (3rd 2005), and Rachel Neylan (2nd 2012).
Australian men’s road race podiums have included Simon Gerrans (2nd 2014), Michael Matthews (2nd 2015), Robbie McEwen (2nd 2002), Allan Davis (3rd 2010), and Matthew Goss (2nd 2011).
A long list of Australian’s have achieved top-10 results off the podium at the Worlds road race, including:
- Stuart O’Grady (4th 2004, 6th 2006)
- Allan Davis (5th 2004, 6th 2012)
- Simon Gerrans (10th 2009, 6th 2015)
- Kathleen Shannon (9th 1985, 9th 1987, 1989 7th, 1989 9th)
- Oenone Wood (3rd 2005, 6th 2006)
- Chloe Hosking (6th 2011, 7th 2016)
- Tiffany Cromwell (9th 2013, 5th 2014)
- Gary Clively (4th 1975 amateur)
- Don Allan (9th 1976)
- Phil Anderson (9th 1983)
- Alan Peiper (10th 1988)
- Stephen Hodge (8th 1991)
- Kathy Watt (10th 1995)
- Anna Wilson (10th 1998)
- Scott Sunderland (7th 2000)
- Baden Cooke (9th 2002)
- Robbie McEwen (5th 2006)
- Cadel Evans (5th 2007)
- Simon Clarke (7th 2013)
- Michael Matthews (4th 2016)
- Scott Sunderland (7th 2000)
- Sara Carrigan (4th 2002)
- Alison Wright (5th 2002)
- Emily Roper (4th Jnr TT 2012)
Other stand-out performers
Arguably, Australia’s best performances at the road worlds have been in the time trial races (first held in 1962) and in younger ranks. Stand-out Australian time-trial riders at the road worlds have included:
- Henk Vogels (8th 1994)
- Neil Stephens (10th 1996)
- Jonathan Hall (8th 1997)
- Nathan O’Neill (8th 2001)
- Michael Rogers (8th 2002, 1st 2003, 1st 2004, 1st 2005, 8th 2006, 5th 2010)
- Richie Porte (4th 2010, 6th 2011, 17th 2013)
- Jack Bobridge (5th 2011)
- Rohan Dennis (12th 2013, 5th 2014, 6th 2015, 6th 2017, 8th 2017)
- Kathy Watt (3rd 1995, 6th 1998, 10th 1999)
- Anna Wilson (2nd 1999, 7th 2001)
- Sara Carrigan (5th 2002)
- Katrin Garfoot (4th 2015, 3rd 2016)
Australia’s first men’s worlds team time-trial team was sent in 1974, and comprised of Dennis Shaw, Terry Stacey, Ian Chandler and Gary Clively. They finished 12th, some seven minutes behind the winning time. It would take the Australians until 1993 to break into the top ten of TTT results, when a team made up of Henk Vogels, Damian McDonald, Brett Dennis and Grant Rice placed sixth. Our first women’s worlds team time-trial team was sent in 1987 (Liz Hepple, Robyn Battison, Donna Rae-Szalinski, and Donna Gould) and finished 10th.
Significant Australian Junior and under 23 results have included:
- Nathan O’Neill 4th, Marcel Gono 5th (U23 TT 1996)
- Cadel Evans (9th U23 TT 1998)
- Michael Rogers (2nd Jnr TT 1997, 2nd U23 TT 1999, 3rd U23 TT 2000, 1st U23 TT)
- Brad Davidson 6th, Allan Davis 7th (U23 RR 2000)
- Rory Sutherland (4th Jnr TT 2000)
- Katherine Bates (6th Jnr RR 2000, 2nd Jnr TT 2000)
- Nicolas Sanderson (3rd Jnr RR 2002)
- Mark Jamieson (2nd Jnr TT 2002)
- Belinda Goss (6th Jnr RR 2002)
- Will Walker (5th Jnr TT 2003)
- Stephanie Williams (6th Jnr TT 2003)
- Candice Sullivan (6th Jnr RR 2003)
- Amanda Spratt (3rd Jr RR 2004)
- Wes Sulzberger (2nd U23 RR 2007)
- Simon Clarke (3rd U23 RR 2007)
- Cameron Meyer (3rd U23 TT 2008)
- Jack Bobridge (1st U23 TT 2009)
- Michael Matthews (1st U23 RR 2010)
- Luke Durbridge (2nd U23 TT 2010, 1st U23 TT 2011)
- Rohan Dennis (5th U23 TT 2010, 2nd U23 TT 2012)
- Michael Hepburn (3rd U23 TT 2011)
- David Edwards (3rd Jr TT 2011)
- Jessica Allen (1st Jnr TT 2011)
- Caleb Ewan (2nd Jnr RR 2012, 4th U23 RR 2013, 2nd U23 RR 2014)
- Alex Morgan (4th Jnr TT 2012)
- Damien Howson (3rd U23 TT 2012)
- Alex Nicholls (2nd Jnr TT 2013)
- Alex Manly (3rd Jnr TT 2013, 4th Jr TT 2014)
- Campbell Flakemore (1st U23 TT 2014)
- Michael Storer (3rd Jr TT 2014)
- Macey Stewart (1st Jr TT 2014)
- Anna-Leeza Hull (3rd Jr TT 2014, 3rd Jr TT 2015)
- Keagan Girdlestone (4th Jr TT 2015)
- Miles Scotson (3rd U23 TT 2016)
- Jason Lowndes (6th U23 RR 2016)
1995 was the last year of the amateur category in the road worlds, replaced in 1996 with the U23 men’s category, and in 1997 the additional junior men’s and women’s time-trial and road race categories were created – a move which would expand the size of the Australian teams.
There have been a series of close seconds over the years in the men’s elite race, where Australian riders have narrowly missed the win – McEwen to Cippolini in 2002, Goss to Cavendish in 2011, and Gerrans to Kwiatkowski in 2014.
Australian cycling fans hope 2017 will be the year the in-form Michael Matthews claims the rainbow jersey again for Australia. He has a strong team with experienced World Championship riders around him, and the lumpy Bergen road race course suits.
Craig Fry is a freelance cycling writer based in Melbourne and is @pushbikewriter on Twitter and Instagram.
Australians in the World Road Championships – Road Race (year, rider, result)
Complete results lists including DNFs are hard to come by prior to the 1990’s in the road world championships. However the following list of available results by Australian riders over the years gives a good indication of the history of our connection with this event.
1935 – Hubert Opperman 8th, Hefty Stuart 10th, Ernie Milliken DNF
1948 – Russell Mockridge 30th*
1950 – Jack Hoobin 1st (Amateur)
1951 – Hec Sutherland DNF* Russell Mockridge DNF*
1952 – John Beasley DNF*, Jim Nevin 21st (Amateur)
1955 – John Beasley DNF*
1958 – John O’Sullivan 36th (Amateur)
1959 – Ronald Murray 15th
1965 – Bill Lawrie 54th, Malcolm Powell 41st (Amateur)
1969 – Bill Lawrie 32nd, Charlie Walsh 43rd, Graeme Gilmore 45th (Amateur: Peter Smith 8th)
1970 – Tom Maloney 61st (Amateur) (Women: ??? Roach 21st *)
1971 – Tom Maloney 87th (Amateur)
1973 – John Trevorrow 80th (Amateur)
1974 – Clyde Sefton 59th (Amateur)
1975 – Don Allan 22nd (Amateur: Gary Clively 4th, Clyde Sefton 34th)
1976 – Don Allan 9th
1977 – Clyde Sefton 30th
1979 – Clyde Sefton 24th
1981 – Wayne Hildred 50th
1982 – Phil Anderson 27th, Wayne Hildred 54th, Shane Sutton 55th (Amateur: Alan Peiper 91st)
1983 – Phil Anderson 9th, Michelle Robins 62nd, Paula Verral 64th, Elisabeth Battle 69th
1985 – Peter Besanko 30th, Phil Anderson 47th, Michael Wilson 62nd, Kathleen Shannon 9th, Robyn Battison 12th, Julie Speight 82nd
1986 – Phil Anderson 18th, Michael Wilson 24th, Liz Hepple 19th, Kathleen Shannon 37th, Robyn Battison 41st
1987 – Phil Anderson 21st, Kathleen Shannon 9th, Liz Hepple 12th, Donna Gould 23rd, Donna Rae-Szalinski 34th, Robyn Battison 48th
1988 – Alan Peiper 10th, Anderson 33rd, Stephen Hodge 63rd
1989 – Scott Sunderland 38th (Amateur), Kathleen Shannon 7th, Donna Gould 10th, Debbie Kinnear 33rd, Anita Crossley 36th
1990 – Stephen Hodge 42nd (Amateur: Matt Bazzano 54th), Kathleen Shannon 9th, Kathy Watt 15th, Jacqui Uttien 26th, Maryanne Shaw 30th, Ann-Maree Collis 56th
1991 – Stephen Hodge 8th, Neil Stephens 32nd, Scott Sunderland 43rd, Allan Peiper 49th, Eddie Salas 49th (Amateur: Patrick Jonker 64th, Rob Crowe 67th, Matt Bazzano 71st, Marcel Lema 81st) Kathleen Shannon 12th, Jacqui Uttien 22nd, Donna Rae-Szalinski 25th, Ann-Maree Collis 75th, Maryanne Shaw 76th, Jennifer Hall 100th
1992 – Stephen Hodge 19th, Neil Stephens 51st
1993 – Stephen Hodge 33rd (Amateur: Patrick Jonker 31st, Leith Sherwin 39th, Damien McDonald 44th, Henk Vogels 45th, Grant Rice 51st, Brett Dennis 98th, Cathy Reardon 6th, Kathy Watt 41st, Sarah Fien 88th, Maryanne Shaw 89th
1994 – Scott Sunderland 17th, Leith Sherwin 29th (Amateur: Robbie McEwen 14th, Nick Gates 77th, Kelvin Martin 93rd, Margaret Henderson 40th
1995 – Kathy Watt 10th, Lynn Nixon 14th, Tracey Gaudry 16th, Liz Tadich 26th, (Amateur: Damian McDonald 42nd, Paul Brosnan 55th, Brett Dennis 58th, Kelvin Martin 81st, Alan Iacuone 111th)
1997 – Henk Vogels 17th, Liz Tadich 2nd, Juanita Feldhahn 40th, Lynn Nixon 43rd, Charlotte White 52nd, Kathy Watt 65th
1998 – Henk Vogels 38th, Anna Wilson 10th, Tracey Gaudry 32nd, Liz Tadich 78th
1999 – Anna Wilson 2nd, Tracey Gaudry 15th 34th, Juanita Feldhahn 39th, Sara Carrigan 71st, Kim Shirley 75th, Alison Wright 85th
2000 – Scott Sunderland 7th, Tom Leaper 73rd, Stuart O’Grady 101st, Tracey Gaudry 16th, Liz Tadich 21st, Margaret Hemsley 22nd, Sara Carrigan 39th, Hayley Rutherford 53rd
2001 – Cadel Evans 26th, Tom Leaper 61st, Anna Wilson 32nd, Hayley Rutherford 39th, Sara Carrigan 47th
2002 – Robbie McEwen 2nd, Baden Cooke 9th, Stuart O’Grady 13th, Matthew Wilson 63rd, Mat Hayman 100th, Henk Vogels 120th, Matt White 135th, Michael Rogers 136th, Sara Carrigan 4th, Alison Wright 5th, Rochelle Gilmore 33rd, Olivia Gollan 34th, Hayley Rutherford 42nd, Emma James 66th, Margaret Hemsley 87th
2003 – Allan Davis 12th, Mat Hayman 33rd, Michael Rogers 79th, Olivia Gollan 25th, Oenone Wood 28th, Sara Carrigan 31st, Margaret Hemsley 41st
2004 – Stuart O’Grady 4th, Allan Davis 5th, Michael Rogers 81st, Oenone Wood 13th, Margaret Hemsley 49th, Olivia Gollan 57th
2005 – McEwen 30th, Allan Davis 72nd, Michael Rogers 83rd, Simon Gerrans 87th, Baden Cooke 88th, Henk Vogels 94th, Mat Hayman 101st, Oenone Wood 3rd, Olivia Gollan 29th, Sara Carrigan 39th, Nathalie Bates 43rd, Katherine Bates 67th, Helen Kelly 79th
2006 – Robbie McEwen 5th, Stuart O’Grady 6th, Cadel Evans 40th, Michael Rogers 50th, Simon Gerrans 89th, Mat Hayman 100th, Oenone Wood 6th, Emma Rickards 64th
2007 – Cadel Evans 5th, Allan Davis 53rd, Matthew Lloyd 55th, Simon Gerrans 66th, Oenone Wood 8th, Lorian Graham 39th, Nikki Egyed Butterfield 56th
2008 – Matthew Lloyd 55th, Nikki Egyed Butterfield 15th, Vicki Whitelaw 53rd, Jessica Allen 61st, Oenone Wood 63rd, Carla Wood 64th
2009 – Cadel Evans 1st, Simon Gerrans 10th, Matthew Lloyd 64th, Michael Rogers 107th, Ruth Corset 12th, Tiffany Cromwell 52nd
2010 – Allan Davis 3rd, Cadel Evans 17th, Stuart O’Grady 45th, Mat Hayman 94th, Wes Sulzberger 95th, Michael Rogers 96th, Ruth Corset 26th, Vicki Whitelaw 28th
2011 – Matthew Goss 2nd, Heinrich Haussler 42nd, Chris Sutton 72nd, Baden Cooke 74th, Simon Gerrans 79th, Stuart O’Grady 91st, Mat Hayman 100th, Michael Rogers 101st, Simon Clarke 102nd, Chloe Hosking 6th, Vicki Whitelaw 28th, Rochelle Gilmore 52nd, Carla Ryan 83rd, Shara Gillow 89th, Amanda Spratt 110th)
2012 – Allan Davis 6th, Simon Gerrans 21st, David Tanner 42nd, Heinrich Haussler 73rd, Simon Clarke 78th, Rachel Neylan 2nd, Tiffany Cromwell 31st, Shara Gillow 53rd, Amanda Spratt 68th, Jessie MacLean 71st, Gracie Elvin 72nd, Loren Rowney DNF
2013 – Simon Clarke 7th, Tiffany Cromwell 9th, Carlee Taylor 25th, Shara Gillow 31st
2014 – Simon Gerrans 2nd, Michael Matthews 14th, Simon Clarke 55th, Adam Hansen 81st, Tiffany Cromwell 5th, Rachel Neylan 24th, Katrin Garfoot 48th, Carlee Taylor 57th
2015 – Michael Matthews 2nd, Simon Gerrans 6th, Heinrich Haussler 44th, Adam Hansen 73rd, Mat Hayman 77th, Tiffany Cromwell 17th, Rachel Neylan 19th, Lizzie Williams 20th, Lauren Kitchen 28th, Katrin Garfoot 29th, Amanda Spratt 48th, Loren Rowney 50th, Gracie Elvin 60th
2016 – Michael Matthews 4th, Mat Hayman 21st, Mitch Docker 50th, Zak Dempster 51st, Chloe Hosking 7th, Tiffany Cromwell 48th, Katrin Garfoot 51st, Lauren Kitchen 69th, Gracie Elvin 92nd, Sarah Roy 99th
* Results to be confirmed