Great Britain have been dealt a blow before a pedal has even been pressed after Geraint Thomas withdrew from the individual time trial on the eve of this week's UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire.
The announcement came days after Thomas was named alongside Alex Dowsett, the six-time national time trial champion, in the two-man team to represent Britain in the 54km time trial from Northallerton to Harrogate.
Though not widely considered a contender for the world title, Thomas’s withdrawal will disappoint the thousands of fans expected to descend on Harrogate on Wednesday in the hope of getting a glimpse of the hugely popular former Tour de France champion.
However, despite the setback of missing out on riding his first time trial at a world championships, the Welshman has said he will be on the starting line for next Sunday’s road race.
"I’ve tried to get back into shape after my post tour break, but I don’t feel in good enough shape to perform to my best," Thomas said in a British Cycling statement. "So the decision was made with my coach and [elite men’s road coach] Matt Brammeier at British Cycling to skip the TT [time trial] and commit to the team for the road race."
Thomas will be replaced by John Archibald who will also feature in the team time trial mixed relay which acts as the curtain-raiser to the first world championships on British roads since 1982.
In what organisers are hoping to be the "most inclusive, innovative and inspiring edition ever", the championships get under way with Sunday's historic event in which men and women compete alongside each other on equal terms and with equal prize money.
Following seven years of team time trial events when riders competed in their trade team colours, the new discipline – which made its competitive debut at last month's European championships in Holland – has been introduced to the programme to help promote, according to International Cycling Union president David Lappartient, "equality between men and women".
Teams start with three male riders who complete one of the 14km Harrogate circuits that forms the centrepiece of the championships – each of the 11 road and time trial races conclude here – before, once the second male has crossed the line, their female team-mates tackle the same route with the final timings taken once the second female has crossed the finish line.
The eight-day championships features time trials and road races for junior, under-23 and elite categories and concludes next Sunday with the 285km men's road race from Leeds to Harrogate.
Adam Duggleby and Steven Bate clinched the men’s tandem, while Sarah Storey finished over 8mins ahead of her nearest rival to win the C5 race. Further wins followed for Alex Brooke-Turner, Karen Darke, James Puttrell, David Stone, Ben Watson and Will Bjergfelt.