The celebs are lining up for a shot at profitable the rainbow jersey on the UCI Highway World Championships elite males’s street race in Wollongong, Australia.
The centrepiece of the circuit would be the climb of Mount Nice and its testing descent, tackled a dozen instances. This race is about to pit puncheurs towards Grand Tour stars and hardy sprinters as they compete for the hallowed rainbow jersey.
Belgium would be the favourites, with two of the excellent racers of the season of their squad, however we are able to count on an aggressive race with 3,945m of elevation achieve over 267 kilometres.
The numerous skills of pre-race favourites comparable to Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar will imply completely different needs for the way the race is run too. It ought to make for an enchanting dynamic.
The Highway Worlds have not been held in Australia since 2010, a race which noticed Thor Hushovd beat Matti Breschel and residential favorite Allan Davis within the remaining dash in Melbourne.
Who will succeed the Norwegian this 12 months? Cyclingnews casts its eyes over ten of the contenders.
For a pre-race favorite, look no additional. It is troublesome to have a course that does not go well with Van Aert, who has extra sides to him than a dodecahedron, as bunch sprints, time trials, mountainous Grand Tour phases, hilly one-day races and cobbled Classics all fall in his wheelhouse.
You realize the Belgian means enterprise when he is lacking the World Championships time trial and one other possible medal to go full bore for the street race title, which has eluded him to this point.
One-day race wins on the Bretagne Basic-Ouest France, the E3 Saxo Financial institution Basic and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this season present his calibre, alongside a second place at Paris-Roubaix and third at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
His dash is devastating, however the close to 4,000 metres of climbing on the Australian course is prone to scrub off a few of his freshness and ending velocity, one thing seen when Pogačar beat him on the GP de Montréal. Therein lies a rub: his possibilities of victory in probably the most prestigious races have generally been scuppered by being sat on by rivals, reluctant to contribute, whereas breakaways keep out in entrance. No rider will need to tow the reigning Tour de France inexperienced jersey to the end.
Being ridiculously versatile shouldn’t be at all times a boon. Consider stage 4 of the Tour de France this 12 months: Van Aert might do properly happening the entrance foot and stunning hangers-on relatively than being worn down by repeat assaults or relied on to chase.
After under-performing on the Tour de France, the place he lower an nameless, pissed off determine, the Dutchman has taken a step again this summer time to construct up for his remaining aim of the street racing season.
Whereas it makes his kind one thing of a thriller, Van der Poel is never far off when he units his thoughts to one thing and his WorldTour one-day race document this season is enviable, with wins at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders, third at Milan-San Remo, fourth at Amstel Gold Race and ninth at Paris-Roubaix.
Maybe there are one or two demons to exorcise for Van der Poel. He memorably blew up in chilly, wet circumstances in Yorkshire in 2019 whereas main the street race and was a protagonist in final 12 months’s ultra-attacking race in Leuven.
A powerful Dutch workforce must be united behind him, as the principle chief whereas Dylan van Baarle is one other Monument winner who gives an choice.
The dream follow-up act to profitable the Vuelta a España can be Evenepoel taking the rainbow jersey and win quantity 15 of his glittering 12 months.
Biking’s latest Grand Tour champion gives a super foil to teammate Van Aert, theoretically taking the strain off him and the entire workforce by going up the street. If rivals need to win, they will need to chase the in-form expertise down, and quick. Evenepoel has made a behavior of 50-kilometre solo wins in races, most just lately on the Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa.
One caveat is that his kind and motivation might not be at Vuelta ranges by the point the September 25 race rolls round. Even when he is barely on the slide, he can play a pivotal function within the race.
Belgium have not had an elite males’s winner since Philippe Gilbert at Valkenburg in 2012, however with two of the bike racers of 2022 of their colors, this can be a gilt-edged probability.
Nevertheless, communication and driving cohesively as a workforce shall be key. Evenepoel courted controversy 12 months in the past, by allegedly skipping the workforce briefing and saying he had the legs to be world champion and was denied an opportunity to trip for himself. His feedback went down like a lead balloon with Van Aert, although the pair ultimately reconciled.
Pogačar is normally not one shy of an assault and this rolling course will play into the arms of the previous Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner. The spring Classics confirmed that even in races not particularly suited to his traits, comparable to Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, the Slovenian can outline the race.
Is the circuit’s fundamental ascent of Mount Nice arduous sufficient for the two-time Tour de France winner to depart everybody behind? Presumably not, however we have seen – most just lately together with his triumph on the GP de Montréal – that if Pogačar will get it proper, his ending velocity after an extended race is up there with the most effective.
His finest consequence from three elite males’s street race participations is 18th, poor for his lofty requirements. Count on him to enhance on that in Wollongong – it is a lengthy solution to go to make up the numbers.
‘Bling’ is one to be careful for in a decreased group end and shall be additional motivated for a house Worlds. In any case, he has profitable kind in a single – 12 years in the past in Geelong, he got here away with the rainbow jersey within the U23 race.
The Tour de France confirmed the fruit of his coaching labours, profitable a stage in Mende forward of more-fancied climbers Alberto Bettiol and Thibaut Pinot. He has made a profession from being the strongest in smaller bunch sprints and punchy finishes, however he is arguably higher than ever on powerful one-day programs.
His current second place on the GP de Québec was a suggestion that his kind is coming to the boil properly. Jai Hindley and Ben O’Connor will provide attacking prospects, however backing the BikeExchange-Jayco racer is about to be Plan A for the house workforce.
The 12 months since profitable his second rainbow jersey in Leuven have been properly off what the flamboyant Frenchman would have hoped.
The QuickStep-AlphaVinyl star has stage victories to his title at Itzulia Basque Nation and the Tour de Wallonie in 2022, however following a disrupted pre-season, the spring was mediocre by his Olympian requirements. And that was earlier than struggling a collapsed lung, fractured shoulder blade and damaged ribs in a crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The accidents scuppered Alaphilippe’s subsequent three months. Whereas he confirmed his expertise and sophistication driving as a domestique deluxe for Evenepoel on the Vuelta, a crash on stage 11 wiped him out of the race and dislocated his shoulder, that means extra break day the bike and one remaining impediment to beat to even make it to the beginning line.
Given his pedigree, the 30-year-old is a wild card who cannot be discounted. Nevertheless, countrymen Romain Bardet and Christophe Laporte have had much less tumultuous build-ups and should provide extra dependable threats.
A 12 months in the past, crowds got here out en masse in Eritrea for Girmay’s homecoming to have fun his historic Worlds U23 street race silver medal. The 22-year-old has kicked on since then with a breakthrough debut 12 months within the WorldTour, profitable the Trofeo Alcúdia, Gent-Wevelgem and a stage on the Giro d’Italia. His exit from the race was simply as memorable, abandoning after injuring his eye with an errant prosecco cork whereas on the rostrum.
He hasn’t had many race days this summer time, however has recovered higher than anticipated from damaging crashes on the Tour de Wallonie and Circuit Franco-Belge, ending sixth on the Bretagne Basic-Ouest France, and third on the GP Québec.
Girmay is prone to be remoted when the racing hots up, with Eritrea missing the firepower of a number of rival groups. But when he may obtain a podium end, it might be the most important end in African biking historical past – and simply think about the celebration again residence for that.
The EF Training-EasyPost man is about to guide a fresh-faced Italian workforce, with Filippo Zana, Stefano Oldani, Samuele Battistella, Edoardo Affini, and Matteo Sobrero all doable debutants going by the nation’s lengthy listing.
This summer time Bettiol has taken second locations on phases of the Tour de France and Tour de Suisse, exhibiting his endurance and flexibility in breakaways, although he is nonetheless ready for an additional massive win.
He would not win typically, however once they come alongside, they’re normally of the best high quality, with a Tour of Flanders title and a Giro stage to his title. Objectively, although, Italy’s lineup shall be one in every of their weaker squads lately, so it is his job to assist them punch above their weight. 2019 runner-up Matteo Trentin is another choice for the workforce.
The Vuelta a España was affirmation that Wright appears to be getting higher and higher this summer time, bothering the highest reaches of the outcomes sheets in breakaways and bunch sprints.
One other ceremony of professional biking passage was being dragged into an issue after Primož Roglic’s withdrawal from the race. The one factor the Bahrain-Victorious rider is lacking is a professional win. After a string of podium finishes, a world title can be fairly a solution to get off the mark.
His good friend and fellow Londoner Ethan Hayter may additionally problem in a youthful Nice Britain lineup, however the Ineos rider’s withdrawal from the Vuelta with a COVID-19 constructive means his situation is extra of an unknown.
Whereas Küng will problem for time trial silverware, he is a possible joker within the street race pack, too. He has confirmed his improved climbing chops all year long, ending fifth general on the Tour de Suisse and eighth at Amstel Gold Race.
Throw in third at Paris-Roubaix and fifth on the Tour of Flanders, and it has been one of many most interesting seasons of the Swiss powerhouse’s profession, even when the one massive win has been missing.
His confidence ought to be excessive too, having prolonged his Groupama-FDJ contract to the tip of 2025 and brought victory on the Tour du Poitou-Charentes on the finish of August. He can depend on a stable squad that includes the likes of Mauro Schmid and Stefan Bissegger, too.