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World Championships Road Race Preview

An open course that’s got just enough difficulties for riders to exploit in order to slip the sprinters, Sunday’s men’s road race promises and uncertain race with tension that ratchets up lap after lap.

The Course: 261.4km: 15 laps of a 16.2km circuit. After starting outside the circuit the race goes to downtown Richmond for the circuit and the anticlockwise laps. The course takes in large boulevards in downturn Richmond before a U-turn and then a series of turns takes the race towards the James River, once infamous for it rapids here. It’s here the course gets lively with a u-turn on the wide road then the climbing starts 500 metres later with the first of three short climbs.

  • 12.5km: Libby Hill Park is short but steep at 8% average, peaking at 9% and long enough to rob all momentum and has a cobbled section as it winds up. The cobbles are not wild but they’re not polished urban pavé either and this section should not be underestimated. The vibrations disrupt the body’s vascular circulation. Once, twice is fine but after a while it adds up. It’s followed by an equally short descent that’s steep and has a 90° bend.
  • 14km: N23 Street begins with another right-angle bend and a short run and then the steep cobbled ramp begins with a 12% average and a peak of 13%. There’s a left turn at the top and a descent to the final climb.
  • 15km: Governor Street is a regular climb, no cobbles and 7-8% on the way up. The top of the climb is just 680m from the finish line but the road keeps dragging up until 150m to go where it flattens to the line.

Combined these three climbs make for a trick approach where positioning matters, it’s hard to make up for a bad position and the repetition of these climbs makes them tiring, both from the physical effort but the mental commitment to fight for position too. Then it’s 12km on wider roads.

The Scenario: “a course for sprinters” say many but it’s a 260km race. Anyone left in the race will be slogging out out rather sprinting, this is a finish for the toughest riders rather than the speedsters. The accumulated climbing and cornering should whittle down the field and the forecast rain will put others off and some will crash too. By the last lap there should be a select group rather than a giant peloton.

The three climbs allow the race to be strung out. There’s time to regroup after, however this gets harder and harder as the distance goes up and the speed increases. Several teams will try to force things: some have an interest in toughening up the race because they’ve got no chance in a sprint; others want to make things hard because they believe strongly in their leader’s sprint they’ll try to blow away the last lap chancers with a high tempo on the flatter parts. It all makes for a stressful race. This can appear negative with riders conserving energy rather than gambling but that’s a 260km race with a rainbow at the end of it for you.

The Contenders: Alexander Kristoff is the prime pick. He’s won Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders so he’s got no trouble with the distance and packs a powerful sprint to beat the rest. After a lull in July He is in good form after winning the GP Plouay and strong riding in Canada of late, seemingly preferring cooler conditions. He likes to set targets and he’s good at meeting them. He’s also able to cover moves and not scared to go in a breakaway and has a decent team of five – plus the Russians? – in his service including Edvald Boassen Hagen, once an irresistible pick for a race like this but these days still struggling in longer races but his form was excellent in the Tour of Britain. Back to Kristoff and his biggest problem is the depth of the field, there’s plenty of competition.

John Degenkolb is next. His recent form in the Vuelta didn’t look great with so many missed sprints but things came right in Madrid and all the hard work will have done him good, just look at how Vasil Kiryienka and Jérôme Coppel have shone since they lapped Spain. Just like Kristoff he’s got a great sprint after a hard race and can be entrepreneurial if needed. Arguably he’s got a stronger team too with Tony Martin on hand to neutralise rivals or even go solo to avenge his time trial ride. André Greipel is a back-up sprinter who is also a great pick and enjoying a fine season including recent success in the Tour of Britain.

Michael Matthews is a good pick but yet to win a major one day race. This can all change on Sunday and reservations about the distance needn’t deter him, he’s come close in Milan-Sanremo and the Amstel Gold Race. He’s fast, agile and has a good team in his service too. You might remember his Tour de France horror show of injuries but he rode on with the thoughts of Richmond, this race means everything to him. He’s also got the knack of delivering quality wins just when it matters. Australia will ride for him and the team is built with Orica-Greenedge riders to ensure extra harmony. Can Simon Gerrans spring a surprise? He had a quiet season but “The Sniper” might fire one of his bullets.

Peter Sagan has a weak team and the Danish exodus from Tinkoff-Saxo reduces the allies further. With brother Juraj and Michael Kolar for help things are a touch harder as he’ll be isolated late on. As we’ve seen in the spring classics he’d arguably have won more with better support over the years. But few can match that sprint and the series of climbs, cobbles and corners are perfect for his acrobatic style as he can carry speed like no other. What if his weak team means this time he has to sit tight until late rather than scaring other riders with obvious displays of strength like he did in Sanremo? That could work but we don’t have much to go on form-wise following his somersault out of the Vuelta.

Those watching the crisis in and around Syria will be aware of the complex matrix of alliances, for example two countries can be allies while each backs rivals factions in some fights: it’s partly why the situation is intractable. It’s a bit like this in the Belgian team with a top heavy squad that must be fiendish to manage for selector Carlo Bomans. Even BMC Racing team mates like Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert have a rivalry and then come the ambitions of Tom Boonen and Sep Vanmarcke. Tiesj Benoot is also worth watching, an all round tough rider with ascendant form after 5th place in the GP Montréal but will he be allowed a chance by the team? In a straight sprint they’ll fear losing to Alexander Kristoff or John Degenkolb Tom Boonen is still a medal prospect while Van Avermaet is very good at sniffing out and instigating the late moves and has finally found winning ways this year.

Another team top-heavy team is the Italian squadra. Vincenzo Nibali has been a driven man since his Vuelta exclusion and had some great recent results in Italy. He’d be the prime pick if this was a mountainous race but the flat profile might mean he’s a warm-up act who will enliven the race but probably not come away with much. Elia Viviani is the opposite, a sprinter who could find the course too hilly and too long, the track specialist has a good kick and we saw this in the Tour of Britain but even if he’s keen, he’s has yet to show over long distances and the spring classics. Diego Ulissi is in good form but again rides a course that doesn’t suit, he’ll have to break away to stand a chance while Fabio Felline and Giacomo Nizzolo bring more options but will they ride for others or sit tight and hope? But what if Matteo Trentin was their best bet? He’s a punchy rider with a good sprint, has friends on other teams and seems to take a big win now and then and he’s been coming into form.

Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema are strong riders for the Dutch team but again on a course that doesn’t suit, instead the best chance could be Niki Terpstra and a late solo attack just like he can do in the spring classics; second in the team time trial suggests some form is there but there’s not much else to go on.

One team who don’t seem to have what it takes on paper at first glance is Spain as they come with Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde. But look more closely and Valverde has finished third in the Worlds for three years running and if the race is split apart he’s got the nose to find the winning move. Relations with Rodriguez are rotten but both know they’ll pay a price if they’re seen to chase each other down. Juan-José Lobato is an outsider for the sprint finish too as he’s got a good sprint and appears to be improving in form.

Michał Kwiatkowski

Michał Kwiatkowski would prefer a hillier course but he’s still a contender to win a again. He can float over the climbs and packs a good sprint as we saw in the Amstel Gold Race, not normally fast enough to rival the others so he’ll have to try something more inventive.


A cobbled course? Step forward Zdeněk Štybar. His win would mean a year of frustration for those forced to type his name repeatedly. But he’s a solid pick too after a good Tour of Britain and comes with a dedicated Czech team plus some alliances in Etixx-Quickstep. He’s good and he can deliver big wins but this would be his biggest triumph ever. How he goes about getting the win is difficult, he’d need to slip away late in the race and use the climbs and corners to establish a lead… or do what he did in the Tour de France and jump on the final climb and hope the others hesitate.

The French have Nacer Bouhanni who’s had a bad season but has been planning for this race for some time; tenth last year says he can cope with the climbs and distance but this course’s more staccato climbs rather than the drags of Ponferrada don’t suit him. Julian Alaphilippe is one of the revelations of the year but a win here seems too big an ask while Arnaud Démare won the U23 title in Copenhagen and can sometimes pull out a big sprint but here? Surely it’s pas possible. Tony Gallopin is another potential candidate who’s focussed on the race but again can you imagine the scenario where he beats everyone else?

Among the others Matti Breschel is as much part of the late season rituals as falling leaves and armwarmers, fourth last year he’s not done much in recent weeks. Future Cannondale-Garmin team mate Ramūnas Navardauskas is a dark horse who usually takes a big win every year but has nothing to show so far. Rigoberto Uran took silver in the Olympic road race on a course that didn’t suit and, again a win seems too much but an outside shot at a medal. None of the British team look to sharp right now although Adam Yates is the exception, he’s in good form and could be good for a late move.

Alexander Kristoff
John Degenkolb
Michael Matthews, Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet
Philippe Gilbert, Zdeněk Štybar, Michał Kwiatkowski, Tom Boonen
Valverde, Terpstra, Trentin, Ulissi, Greipel, Boasson Hagen, Mollema, Alaphilippe, Bouhanni, Lobato, Yates

Weather: (updated Sunday AM) rain showers and temperatures of 23°C or 70°F mean if it’s damp it won’t be too cold but it this will sap the energy and there will be a 15km/h wind from the NE meaning a fast section after the climbs and a light headwind on the approach to the climbs section.

TV: watch as much as you can. The worlds is a lot like Milan-Sanremo with an early break, a procession and it’s only in the latter stages that things go wild. But you have to watch the calm to enjoy the riders storming the final lap and feel the tension. The race starts at 9am EDT/local time and finishes at 3.40pm, that’s 3.00pm Euro time to 9.40pm.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cthulhu Friday, 25 September 2015, 5:29 pm

    Although my favourites to win this race are the same as yours, Kristoff and Degenkolb, a tailwind towards the finish might ruin it for those “sprinters” as a classical “Philippe Gilbert”-attack on the last climb might not be caught by the leftovers of the field. This attack doesn’t neccessarily has to come from PG, I can easily see Valverde or Stybar going for it.

    PS: Boonen looks really lean and mean on that picture, has he one last trick up his sleeves for this year?

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 25 September 2015, 8:12 pm

      Lots of people are saying how lean Boonen is, he started the way this year too. The final time up the climb will be interesting because of the bend into the climb, a rider will have to be well-placed and any attack could be too obvious.

      • frieze Sunday, 27 September 2015, 3:19 pm

        just wondering – I remember last year Kwaikowski getting credit for studying other races previously in the week – taking that into account, has the week so far told us anything?

        likewise remember Rui Costa’s victory coming after many had tipped the Cobbled & Ardennes classic riders whereas it seemed to end up favouring the pure climbers by the finish *(even if Valverde & Rodriguez have won Ardennes races, the fact that Gilbert and the others couldn’t come close to following makes me think it ended up being at least on the L-B-L scale maybe further rather than FW/AG).

        I’m just wondering if the same is happening here, as the climbs look vaguely difficult and all in far closer proximity than similar climbs in Flanders, although it’s the slight rise to finish that (from the women’s race) might seem to be the true moment the race shifts away from the cobbled classic riders?

        Just wonder if repeated severe attacks from the likes of Valverde, Rodriguez etc might put paid to the likes of Kristoff, Matthews, Sagan, Degenklob etc and favour riders like Dan Martin, Nibali?

        Understand that Kristoff climbed his was to Flanders, and Degenklob beat Valverde in an uphill sprint earlier this year, but just have a feeling watching the women’s this is closer to a medium mountain stage not flanders etc.

        Although maybe the women’s field is so much weaker than the mens (obvs due to money issues) that it was deceptive yesterday, I was very surprised how quickly a 50sec gap disappeared, so what happen in the U23etc?

        Can that shine any light?

        • gabriele Sunday, 27 September 2015, 5:37 pm

          The gap situation you name in women race (besides GPS issues that are far from secundary, here!) depended on the peloton chasing at top speed (we barely saw anything of that, maybe a couple of shots in a whole couple of laps o__O). It wasn’t that different from breakaway/peloton situations in men WT races, you see that the gaps apparently stands a hard chase, then it may fall down suddendly, when circumstances lead to such a result.
          In the women Worlds, the workload wasn’t being shared properly on the front, hence the sheer maintaining of that gap had a huge energy cost, which was what we ended up observing when the girls from the peloton – who had been covered until then – started to push hard in the final set of climbs (and, before that, when the break had broken ^__^ in smaller, even less efficient units).
          I’ve been quite satisfied with the women race as such (better than U23, broadly speaking), it maybe was difficult to live the narrative of it because of the way it has been shaped by the TV production (unsatisfactory, as I’ve stated below). Let’s see what the men can do, especially if they can provide some serious action before the last couple of laps.

  • Richard S Friday, 25 September 2015, 5:30 pm

    I think it’ll be too much for the sprinters with the hills, corners and likely dicey weather. I’m thinking a puncheur will got away and win off the last climb. I’m going to say Stybar. One other prediction I’ll offer; Gilbert and van Avarmaet will both be in the winning move/final selection, they’ll trip over each other and neither will win. The climb and then long drag up to the finish is pure Gilbert territory I would say, but I don’t think he’ll win.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 25 September 2015, 8:13 pm

      Difficult for the Belgian team, as said above even two team mates on the team are in competition.

    • irungo txuletak Sunday, 27 September 2015, 10:25 am

      Agree with that. This is pure Gilbert territory – but may suit GVA as well. And I am sure there won’t be any collaboration between both. Woudn’t be surprise to see Stybar catching the opportunity to do the same move as in the Tour.

  • MultiplexRant Friday, 25 September 2015, 5:39 pm

    In theory the race is perfect for GVA – but he’s shown time and again that despite his huge talent he has an allergy to winning. His only notable win this season came against the other second-place specialist Peter Sagan.

    Kristoff does indeed look the favourite but the more I think of it, the more I like the idea of Terpstra or Stybar jumping off before the finish to solo the win as the ragged sprinters fail to organise themselves.

  • Augie March Friday, 25 September 2015, 6:43 pm

    Matthews did win the 2010 under 23 road race world championships (beating John Degenkolb as it happened) but I’m not sure if that counts as a “major one day race”. The uphill drag to the finish could suit a rider like him who is carrying a few kg less than Degenkolb, Sagan or Kristoff.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 25 September 2015, 8:14 pm

      Nobody has won the U-23 and the senior race yet. But by major I mean a big classic in the pro ranks.

  • Finn Friday, 25 September 2015, 7:32 pm

    Albasini is my dark horse but i think it will come down to large-ish group before the last climb and a flyer will win

  • StevhanTI Friday, 25 September 2015, 7:54 pm

    That must be the strongest Etixx-Quickstep selection in a race ever. Also I guess the safest bet of all on this parcours would be a top 5 finish for GVA. Otherwise the race is wide open as they say, I for one am very curious for the outcome of this one.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 26 September 2015, 12:04 pm

      The trade team/national team loyalty topic is an interesting one. I never gave it much thought until 2013. Very hard to predict, but it must take up more than a bit of consideration in an earnest punter’s decision making process.

    • irungo txuletak Sunday, 27 September 2015, 10:30 am

      GVA will be 4th or 2nd…

  • Trevor ward Friday, 25 September 2015, 8:04 pm

    Comparing the appalling loss of life in Syria with the internal mechanics of a pro cycling team is, at best, lazy or, at worst, tasteless.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 25 September 2015, 8:16 pm

      That wasn’t meant to be the comparison, if it comes across that way then you’re quite right. Was more to illustrate the diplomatic difficulties with different sides and alliances.

      • GTGTGT Saturday, 26 September 2015, 1:36 am

        I thought the same thing… I recognised that you weren’t making a direct comparison, but there are probably more appropriate ways of making the point.

        • Alex Saturday, 26 September 2015, 5:31 am

          Agreed- was quite shocked at that. The same lazy journalism (though I haven’t seen it from inrng) of comparing cobbled classics to WWI. Not cool.

          • HamishMcT Saturday, 26 September 2015, 8:08 am

            Well I thought it was an excellent analogy. Carry on Mr INRNG….

      • Anonymous Saturday, 26 September 2015, 4:42 pm

        I understood the point, but could have been done with a much more appropriate reference. Not lazy, but maybe trying to be too cute and topical, but widely missed the mark.

  • Twelvetrees Friday, 25 September 2015, 8:09 pm

    Tough to call, though your analysis is, as ever, hard to disagree with. Head says Degenkolb, but if I had to pick a relative outsider, Alaphilippe would be my choice. I’d be surprised if he ended his career without a rainbow jersey.

  • Jordan Friday, 25 September 2015, 8:23 pm

    Phinney.

  • Othersteve Friday, 25 September 2015, 9:56 pm

    Phinney winning is magical thinking.

    I’ll eat a 50 year old Brooks pro if does!

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 25 September 2015, 11:07 pm

      Sport can deliver fairy tales but for Phinney his TT ride to earn the US two places at the Olympics and the TTT gold medal is great already. 260km is surely too much.

      • Jordan Friday, 25 September 2015, 11:29 pm

        Yes, but he has also had a very mild season with just a little domestic racing so far (where he had a stage win) and thus may have more in the tank than others.

        • Othersteve Friday, 25 September 2015, 11:58 pm

          Jordan,no doubt his genetics speaks volumes to his future, as well his tenacity. Horrid sight the pictures of his leg post surgeries. Anything more this worlds other then a solid last couples of laps would be Alice in Wonderlandesque.

          Perhaps if he were to stumble into a late break with T Martin, T Dumoulin.

          Ill get the tenderizer ready just in case.

          • Strictly Amateur / The GCW Saturday, 26 September 2015, 4:18 am

            Don’t think Phinney can do it but just in case, skip the tenderizer if it’s MSG; bad juju.
            Clean the Pro well, use a sharp knife and chew with your mouth closed. Discard metal.

        • Ronin Saturday, 26 September 2015, 1:09 am

          Phinney said that his time-trial was one of those where he was on the limit, scratching the surface throughout. He may be fresh, from a lack of racing, but he probably lacks the strength he would need, from a lack of racing.

          • GTGTGT Saturday, 26 September 2015, 1:35 am

            For goodness sake.. Can we all just get over Taylor Phinney?!?

            For the Americans out there, he’s not the only cyclist that ever drew breath. He ain’t gonna win it, no matter how much you might like to dream about it.

            He’s a pretender, not a contender. Always will be.

          • Anonymous Saturday, 26 September 2015, 4:47 am

            I agree that he won’t win but he ain’t no pretender. He can ride

  • Whaleoilbeefhooked Friday, 25 September 2015, 9:57 pm

    I love the lottery of the World’s RR but surely the Belgians just want a winner? Benoot stands out currently but covering the moves for PG,GVA and TB or making it hard for the sprinters elsewhere will probably cost him and Belgium the jersey. Alaphilippe, Matthews, Bouhanni would be great for the “new guard”. Ultimately I just want a hard race and toughest man wins.

  • Mark Friday, 25 September 2015, 11:55 pm

    If it can’t be Matthews… I’d be happy to see Sagan take the title.

    • Mark Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11:25 pm

      Guess I got my wish!

      • Special Eyes Monday, 28 September 2015, 12:14 am

        That’s spooky !
        🙂

  • Tricky Dicky Saturday, 26 September 2015, 2:09 am

    Having just watched the U23s, I wonder if the betting odds are changing, especially with a wet weather forecast? The finish looks harder than expected and the need to be at the front on Libby Hill will create many problems. Is it the last 5kms or so just a bit too much for the likes of Kristoff? It seems almost half way between Flanders and Amstel Gold towards the end.

    Cancellara must be gutted to miss out on this.

    • GTGTGT Saturday, 26 September 2015, 2:12 am

      Yeah, I agree, TD.

      I just can’t see a sprinter getting up for this one. Not after 260kms. 4 laps less, then maybe, but I agree that it seems very much like the Amstel gold finish, after the L-B-L race distance.

      • Jordan Saturday, 26 September 2015, 4:52 am

        GTGTGT:

        Its one thing to not cheer for someone, but I respectfully disagree with your decision to use the word pretender.
        http://www.taylorphinney.com/palmares/

      • Anonymous Saturday, 26 September 2015, 11:11 pm

        Sounds perfect Phil Gilbert territory then.

        • irungo txuletak Sunday, 27 September 2015, 10:44 am

          I don’t think the climbs are as though as the ones of Amstel or the cobbles as hard as the ones of the RVV. Boonen said that N23 climb looks like “half a Paterberg”. The last kilometers are something more comparable to Brabantse Pijl. And indeed Gilbert won it twice, last year outsprinting Matthews. It is a good route for him, but he has the problem of the team.
          Note that SAgan won that BP too 2 years ago, I really think that he is slightly superior to Degenkolb and Kristoff in a bunch sprint. (after 260k, things might be different).

    • Vitus Sunday, 27 September 2015, 12:00 am

      Same here. After watching U23 and the Women’s race, I don’t see a sprinter finish at all.

  • Larry T. Saturday, 26 September 2015, 2:32 am

    I’m in Richmond now, torn between not wanting to get rained on all day vs the epic conditions that will bring out the real men on Sunday. Raincoats and umbrellas at the ready!

  • Simon B Saturday, 26 September 2015, 3:24 am

    Quite rightly, the GB team has been a footnote or most previews so far – it’s the weakest squad they’ve fielded in years. It seems riding the Vuelta was an error for G Thomas, and I’ve yet to see a reason for Pete Kennaugh’s absence: he could be counted on the liven up the racing at least. There’s still some good riders there and I can see Cummins in a break, Yates making a long range attack or Ben Swift going unnoticed and able to sit wheels and nab a reduced bunch sprint.

    • Tricky Dicky Saturday, 26 September 2015, 5:25 am

      Kennaugh’s missus is having a baby. That’s why he’s not there.

      GB are complete outsiders. Cummings or Yates in a break is their best bet. I don’t think Stannard has the form but in bad weather he’s always a delight to watch. If Swift is there at the end, I can’t see Sagan, Degenkolb and Matthews not being there either…. but I wish them good luck.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 26 September 2015, 4:49 pm

        The Phinney prediction gets such a vitriolic response, yet nobody criticizes the thought that someone from GB can win. Clearly a board full of Brits here. They have no shot unless everyone else crashes. Suggesting Swift may win is like an American saying Farrar has a shot.

        • Anonymous Saturday, 26 September 2015, 5:44 pm

          who were those Farrar fans? And, where are they now??

        • Tricky Dicky Saturday, 26 September 2015, 11:44 pm

          I’m not sure if that swipe was aimed at me but I think we have misunderstood each other. What I was trying to say was that I don’t think Swift has a hope in hell. In any scenario where he’s at the finish, someone quicker will almost definitely be there too. I’d be delighted to be wrong though.

          And well done Lizzie A. That was always GB’s best chance of a medal this week.

  • Strictly Amateur / The GCW Saturday, 26 September 2015, 4:31 am

    Likin’ Matthews. Peter (a [pinch] to grow an inch) Sagan knows what He has and has to do with less team and may take it by that inch. If there’s one who can do it without a team, Sagan will. Does Sagan have extra motive; Oleg…?

    Nib’s may be angry, fresh and remember those cobbles that propelled Him in the Tour. This isn’t an easy flat, right?

    Who will the cobbles effect the least?

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 26 September 2015, 12:29 pm

      There’s a smooth gutter that runs up one side of Libby Hill (or most of it, and it changes to the other side of the road as the turns are made).
      I wonder if this could be a launch pad for an Oude Kwaremont-style attack ?
      Many riders used it on the recon, looking at photos.
      Love to see a Boonen surge there !

  • Strictly Amateur / The GCW Saturday, 26 September 2015, 5:49 am

    Reading July Velonews about Alaphilippe -and (elsewhere) how He skipped Vuelta to focus on single day races; Mentioned Plouay and Canada (was He a help for Uran in Quebec) but surely He’s thinking Sunday’s Rainbow.

    Alaphilippe is a bright dark horse.

    Also notice before His streak in April, (Amstel, Wallonne, Liege etc.) He was not producing great results either: http://www.procyclingstats.com/rider/Julian_Alaphilippe

    -0-
    There’s a lot of good commenters at INRNG,
    I don’t get to watch much… to get the full impacts,,, nuances, dynamics within national vs trade teams etc.
    But I want to chime in.
    In case Alaphilippe wins,
    MAYBE I’LL GET A FREE BEER.

    • Bag Pus Saturday, 26 September 2015, 8:10 am

      That’s not a bad tip but I wonder if the parcours is more Flanders than Ardennes.

      The U23 was interesting, you certainly need staying power to make it stick if you get a lucky break on those final hills, even a ragged bunch nearly got him.

      Conversely if it’s dry (is this at all likely) it’s going to be a chaotic sprint that favours the freestyler – the long drag does seem up Matthews street if he has the muscle to be there, you need to be a bit of a boxer maybe 🙂

  • channel_zero Saturday, 26 September 2015, 7:20 am

    Sagan left alone? That’s never happened before…. Sagan is a good call, but should be heavily marked.

    I don’t see the Belgians working together to deliver a win. Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians on that squad.

    I would love for Stybar to ride in with the lead group and steal the win, but he can be a temperamental rider in foul weather.. This was true back to his cyclocross days, but maybe he’s matured.

    Judging by the racing I saw today, I don’t think those cobbles matter. There’s too much ground that can be used to “fix” errors in timing and judgment before the finish line.

    We need a Women’s summary!!!

    • B.R. Saturday, 26 September 2015, 10:35 am

      “I don’t see the Belgians working together to deliver a win. Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians on that squad.”

      I’m not to worried about that. They know that if they don’t ride like a team the press and public in Belgium will destroy them. See the 2000 WC Cyclocross in St-Michielgestel. After that there were never any real troubles in the team (road en cross)

      If Valverde was from Belgium, he would never ride a WC again. I don’t understand that people in Spain accept the fact that he betrayed his country

      • irungo txuletak Sunday, 27 September 2015, 10:48 am

        +1 on Valverde. That’s exactly what I thougt when I saw the Florence’s race.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 26 September 2015, 12:16 pm

      I think that if Sagan can concentrate, he will eventually have an era where he is in control in a crushing manner, but not yet.

      I’m rooting for Stybar as well.

    • Kit Saturday, 26 September 2015, 1:56 pm

      +1 on a Women’s summary. Since the Worlds is nearly the only race that has women on an equal footing, seems poor if we all pretend it isn’t happening. The ITT was fantastic

      • channel_zero Saturday, 26 September 2015, 6:16 pm

        FYI: http://prowomenscycling.com/

        I’m assuming it’s a woman running the site. She’s as dedicated as Inrng to following the sport.

        The Women’s TT was an excellent event this year. The UCI should publish the event as they broadcast it, start to finish.

        • Jan Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11:45 pm

          Oh, Channel-zero, that’s wonderful! Now I can add some more biking reading to my life!

          Thank you for sharing the url!

      • The Inner Ring Saturday, 26 September 2015, 9:47 pm

        I’m watching and enjoying the women’s racing but time is always a constraint. Luckily it meant I could not do a preview of the men’s TT race and see my picks humiliated by Kiryienka, Malori and Coppel.

        An explainer from the archives as to why there’s little women’s/U23/CX etc coverage on here:
        http://inrng.com/2014/10/on-mud-and-gender/

        • irungo txuletak Sunday, 27 September 2015, 10:51 am

          Oh yeah, you were very lucky indeed not making a preview on the men’s ITT!!! Never seen an ITT with such an unpredictable result.

  • Larrick Saturday, 26 September 2015, 7:23 am

    Those cobbles on Libby Hill looked a bit slippery when the power went on in the U23’s. Must be a great chance for a late break and as you pointed out how the Vuelta riders have done well in Kiry and Coppel, maybe a really big outsider is Gonçalves who had a fantastic Vuelta, can handle the climbing and has a fast sprint. The distance will be a worry but he’s a strong lad.

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 26 September 2015, 12:41 pm

      I commented above on the gutter on Libby Hill (perhaps prematurely as I did not see the U23 race) but was it a factor on the climb ?

      • Larrick Saturday, 26 September 2015, 3:03 pm

        On the last lap, with the cobbles slick from the rain, the pressure was on to be at the front. As you can imagine, some of those helpers who had upped the pace and were guiding their leaders hit the proverbial wall and caused a fair bit of mayhem with numerous riders crashing (in slow motion) and effecting those behind.

        It wouldn’t be a surprise to see similar on Sunday, though the extra distance should mean it’s more strung out. Though with counter attacks to be expected and tiring riders doing their all to position their leaders, not only could there be issues on Libby Hill but the fight before the climbs as the road narrows will be dangerous too.

  • HamishMcT Saturday, 26 September 2015, 8:14 am

    Not a clue who’s going to win this one. heart says Sagan or GvA or (wildly improbable) Cummings or Stannard from a break, head says Degenkolb or Kristoff. If I were a betting man I would follow Dan Lloyd’s lead….

  • Alastair S Saturday, 26 September 2015, 9:49 am

    Do hope the TV coverage improves but I’m not holding my breath. American coverage of cycling has been consistently poor for years with tons of picture break-up even in excellent weather. Do they have a restrictive radio spectrum to deal with or some other technical issue?

    BTW it seems bizarre that Britain’s best hope (Adam Yates) wasn’t even in GB’s original selection. It may not be an ideal course for him but along with Geraint Thomas he has clearly been his country’s best one day rider.

    • Bilmo Saturday, 26 September 2015, 12:01 pm

      Agree on the coverage. For a circuit race you would have thought there could be some kind of signal repeaters/ boosters (no tech knowledge from me to be fair).
      The minute it started to rain yesterday it appeared there was no signal from the bikes on half course. The same problem under the freeway just before Libby Hill. That’s a vital part of the circuit when you want to see who has position.
      Hope it cab be improved

      • Special Eyes Saturday, 26 September 2015, 12:39 pm

        Yes, I commented on the erratic coverage of the ITT.
        Cameras were sticking with non-contenders, we barely got a glimpse of Dumoulin and Malori.

    • gabriele Saturday, 26 September 2015, 10:54 pm

      Horrible TV coverage, indeed – until now, at least.
      I don’t know how does that work exactly, but I think that the UCI has Infront doing all the Worlds, and Infront subcontracts local staff (please, correct me if I’m wrong).
      Florence was really *awful*, also because (again, this is hearsay – and vague memories from two years ago) they couldn’t use the kind of personnel who usually does the big races in Italy, since they’re RAI, hence you had people used at most to juvenile races and the likes.
      Hint: as I said elsewhere, the survival of ‘little’ races is useful to grant you have skilled staff around, and cycling needs quite a lot of skilled staff to go on, from safety personnel to cameramen.
      Until now, Richmond has being hugely disappointing, too.
      …And we were debating about the quality of Freire as something which could “devalue the product”!
      The Worlds should be an absolute showcase, visually speaking, I can’t understand how can the UCI accept the low quality Infront has brought in.

      • Larry T. Sunday, 27 September 2015, 1:17 pm

        We didn’t see any TV stuff (moto mounted camera, helicopter, etc.) yesterday until the women’s race here in Richmond. Was the TV coverage better for their race than the others? I assume all the TV toys will be in use today, weather permitting of course. At 7 AM the skies are gray but the roads are dry. Forza Azzurri!

        • gabriele Sunday, 27 September 2015, 2:06 pm

          No coverage for juniores races, neither male nor female, as long as I know.
          The male U23 road race was broadcast – poorly enough. And the women’s elite race wasn’t any better.
          Bad coverage for the ITT I’ve seen (male pro), too.
          I really hope they step up today, but in Florence the troubles went on all the week long. I’m afraid this is really what they got, and sometimes it looks like a problem of skills rather than tools. I’d like to stress this is no anti-USA thing, Florence was awful and Ponferrada had several difficulties, too (whereas, as long as I remember, the Amstel-Gold-Worlds were fine).

          • Nick Monday, 28 September 2015, 1:05 pm

            The London Olympics suffered from this too – not just in cycling, but a number of other sports had worse TV coverage from normal as the governing body and IOC took over responsiblity from those who normally do it.

  • Willis Saturday, 26 September 2015, 10:33 am

    I fancy Luke Rowe to match his top 10 from Roubaix and Omloop. Such a pity Thomas isn’t there, along with Stannard they would’ve been a formidable unit in the rain.

  • Harold Sand Saturday, 26 September 2015, 3:59 pm

    Regarding the recent poor transmission quality , I find it strange that just Aso is so much is at the center of general criticism these days. Prudhomme & Co have restored races like the Vuelta and Fleche and had put them on a solid financial basis. Their products are still expanding worldwide on Free TV in good Quality

    UCI and Velon are clearly the ones who do not deliver what they announce : Attainment. The driving up of broadcast licenses with subsequent miserable TV quality is a typical example here. Where are their priorities? In 3 weeks we will see their bosses take pictures with the oil sheiks in Abhu Dhabi and babbling something clever about the safety of the drivers .
    For me as a cycling fan there ist no merit in their actions. Because first I just want to watch the worlds in good quality, that’s it.

    • Nick Monday, 28 September 2015, 12:36 am

      Were Velon involved in the coverage of the Worlds?

  • Ian Sunday, 27 September 2015, 12:06 am

    I’m hoping with Démare ‘c’est possible’! I think he has a chance but France have to ride for him. Look at his results last September to see how well he goes at this time of the year and as you say, he’s a former U23 World Champion. But Kristoff looks the best bet to me too..

    I notice you haven’t mentioned the former World Champ Rui Costa? He looked good in Montreal recently and could like this course..

    http://www.cyclingbetting.co.uk

  • Lorenz Sunday, 27 September 2015, 1:56 pm

    Such a shame that Cancellara isn’t here. The route is made for him.

  • GTGTGT Sunday, 27 September 2015, 2:14 pm

    With regards to the coverage, they seem to have problems with picture break up any time there’s more than just a whiff of a cloud in the sky.

    Also, the 5 minutes I watched of the women’s race, there seems to be a lot of traffic bridges etc along th course, which blocks the satellite link. It seems to need to be absolutely direct.

    Even the heli shots were poor given the number of buildings along the course.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 28 September 2015, 12:26 am

      The helicopters often seemed to be at an angle to the race rather than above it… which meant shots of rooftops rather than the riders as the buildings blocked the way. If this was so then it could mean the signal was blocked too between the moto cameras and the aerial relay. Great race, but it wasn’t a great TV production.

  • Peter Sunday, 27 September 2015, 9:26 pm

    Fantastic win by Sagan – won on the last uphill cobbles

    • Jan Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11:49 pm

      Yep! He seems to have gotten his timing exactly right today. Maybe this bodes well for him in the one day races in spring?