Hindley arrives late for worlds post-COVID

·3-min read

Jai Hindley was "sweating" before the Australian cycling star overcame a bout of COVID-19 and was able to travel to the world road championships.

The Giro d'Italia winner, a key member of the Australian team for the men's race on Sunday at Wollongong, had his trip delayed a couple of days.

Hindley tested positive on September 12, the day after he finished 10th at the Vuelta a Espana, and that threw a scare into the Australian camp ahead of the worlds.

"I was a bit worried ... I wasn't sure if this was still going to possible," Hindley said at Friday's team media conference.

"Luckily I had pretty light symptoms and I was testing negative pretty soon after.

"I feel pretty good, back to normal more or less."

Hindley had to cancel his original flight and joined the team mid-week.

"I was sweating there for a bit," he said.

Australia will field a strong team in the 266.9km men's road race, which traditionally ends the road worlds week.

Michael Matthews is the top Australian hope, although Hindley or fellow Grand Tour star Ben O'Connor could also go for a result on the testing course if the race plays to their climbing strengths.

At the worlds, there are no race radios for the riders and Australia will effectively have three road captains to oversee tactics - Luke Durbridge, Simon Clarke and Heinrich Haussler.

"There's a lot of experience in this team and also just working with Michael, for Michael over the years at the world championships," Durbridge said.

"We can all make calls on the road right there and then, because without race radios .... if you were worried about finding your road captain in this bunch on this course, you'd be waiting a lap or two."

The key element of the course will be 12 laps of a testing city circuit at Wollongong.

"The race can open up at 50km to go, 80km to go or 20km to go - we don't know.

"That's why we selected this team to make sure we're on those moves."

Matthews won the under-23 title the only other time Australia hosted the road worlds, at Geelong in 2010.

After a drought of wins last year, Matthews showed his form with an outstanding stage victory in July at the Tour de France.

While he admits to feeling the pressure as the top Australian men's hope, he says he is ready.

"It's obviously a bit of stress, I'm not going to lie, but it's been a stressful year with the team (BikeExchange Jayco) trying to stay in the World Tour," he said.

"I've gotten used to it. Obviously expectation is people believing in you, that you can actually come away with the goods."

Rather than sprint for the win at the Tour, Matthews made a longer-range attack that could be a preview of how he plays his cards on Sunday if he is in with a chance.

"This is the way I wanted to ride for a lot of years, like I did at the Tour this year," he said.