Australian Cycling’s elite road coordinator Rory Sutherland has defended the decision to not field an Aussie in Monday afternoon’s men’s under-23 time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong.
Luke Plapp finished second in the event last year, and the 21-year-old should have been the man the home crowd were cheering on.
But Sutherland and the other selectors – as well as Plapp himself – believe he is above the level of the under-23 field.
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“Lucas Plapp is an under-23, (but) he had a choice to be able to do the under-23 time trial or the elite men’s time trial for his progression in the future,” he said.
“On the conversations he had with myself … he’s a world tour professional athlete, he’s not an under-23 athlete anymore, so he will compete in the (elite men’s) event.
“It’s very hard for me as well and the selection panel – the easiest thing to do is to put an athlete in every single event, but the amount of resources that you need to do that, and then whether it is actually for development or not, is a big question.”
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Plapp finished 12th in the elite men’s time trial on Sunday afternoon, completing the 34.2km course in 41:24 – about 84 seconds slower than winner Tobias Foss.
Plapp won bronze in the team pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics. At the Commonwealth Games this year, he finished sixth in the road race and fifth in the time trial.
He said he had his eyes firmly on the Paris games, and was even looking as far ahead as the Brisbane Olympics in 2032.
“I really want to be that Australian time trialist for the next decade, towards Brisbane as well,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“It is a long way away, but I really want to be that Aussie time trialist that is going for the win at every world championship event.”
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