CANBERRA cyclist Michael Matthews thought he'd done enough to earn a spot on the GreenEDGE Tour Down Under team, but was surprised by his omission from the seven-man squad this week.
It means Matthews doesn't have another race until the end of February and will ease back his training. He won the sprint for second at the national road cycling championships in Ballarat last Sunday, after teammate Luke Durbridge had claimed the title.
The 22-year-old thought it might be enough to get a ride alongside Matt Goss, defending TDU champion Simon Gerrans and veteran Stuart O'Grady in the first professional tour event of the year.
He was looking forward to the race after finishing ninth last year when he was riding for the now-disbanded Dutch team Rabobank.
''Originally I thought I was in the team, but they must've changed their plans a little bit now,'' Matthews said. ''I showed that I was in good form at the nationals and did everything right.
''I think the leaders [like Gerrans and Goss] wanted some good workers to help them.
''That's their decision and I hope their decision goes well and they do really well.''
The nationals was Matthews' first start in a GreenEDGE jersey.
He knew he was in good form, but didn't think it was that good.
It bodes well for the year ahead - a year where he'll ride in his first Grand Tour.
Team management has already told him his program would be based around racing in the Giro d'Italia in May.
''I didn't know it would go this well, but I was hoping,'' Matthews said. ''I knew I was in pretty good form.
''You never really know with your form at the start of the year because it's pretty hit-and-miss when you haven't raced for so long.
''I just went into it with an open mind and came out on top, which was good.''
The People's Choice Classic, a closed-circuit road race that's held as a preview to the Tour Down Under, starts in Adelaide at 8pm on Sunday.
The first stage of the Tour Down Under from Prospect to Lobethal is on Tuesday.