World Championships Road Race Preview

After several years of similar courses and a familiar of classics contenders, here’s an Alpine circuit to determine this year’s world champion, surely the hardest course any on the start line will have experienced and it’ll makes for scenic viewing this Sunday too. Here’s the usual look at the course, the contenders and more.

The Course: 258km and 4,670 vertical metres. This makes the race the tenth hilliest when measured by vertical gain but it is backloaded here with the first 90km along the Inn valley before they start the climbing circuit. The valley section includes the climbs of Angerberg and Gnadenwald.

There are six laps of the 23.8km “Olympic circuit”, a loop around some of the winter sports infrastructure on the climb to Igls, a 7.9km climb at 5.7% average with some 10% sections midway but for the most part a steady climb, one where drafting works and then a fast descent of 7km before a flat loop around Innsbruck which twists and turns, it’s not easy to chase on.

The Finish: After completing the six laps they do the Olympic Circuit once more but before completing it, turn on to the Höttinger Höll climb, a 3.2km climb with an average gradient of 11.5% and a maximum gradient of 28%, famously described by Vincenzo Nibali as a like something out of a mountain bike race. For road references it’s comparable to the Villa Vergano ascent used in Lombardia or the Murgil Tontorra in the Clasica San Sebastian, both deployed as the final ascents in recent years both for the length, gradient and the twisting nature. But arguably the Höttinger Höll is more hellish as it’s a touch longer and has a sustained 20% ramp towards the top. There’s 8km to go at the top with 5km downhill, it’s on wider roads and fast as it sweeps downhill. The final 2km are flat.

The Contenders: Julian Alaphilippe (France) is the first pick. He’s in form and after parading around France and then winning San Sebastian he had a short holiday before resuming work, winning the Tour of Britain and the Tour of Slovakia. Better still, he’s ideal for this circuit given his climbing abilities; if he wants to launch on the Höll climb he can, he can make the difference on the descent and he’s able to win from a sprint too. He’s also got a very strong team with Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot both contenders too although each less versatile, they will need to get away on the climbs, preferably solo with Pinot enjoying the higher win rate. Easier said than done to escape, although this means more cards to play for the French team guided by Cyrille Guimard. Still if Alaphilippe’s the bookmaker’s pick too there are reasons to be careful. First, remember Paris-Nice and the stage to Châtel-Guyon? He went on the rampage on the climb before the fiish only to get worked over: just as he can be generous with his energy in a race like the Tour de France he can waste it too. Next his form isn’t so certain, he did win the Tour of Britain but got dumped by Wout Poels on the only uphill finish.

Alejandro Valverde has been on the podium six times but without a win. He’s a prototype rider for this course, versatile for the climbs and strong in the sprint and has come off a strong Vuelta ride where if he collapsed in the high mountains he was strong on the shorter climbs. He’s got a fine tactical brain and a strong Spanish team with Ion Izaguirre as an outsider and Enric Mas as the surprise card to play although the young Majorcan isn’t used to this distance.

The Yates brothers switched their focus to the Worlds within hours of finishing the Vuelta. Simon Yates (pictured) was irresistible in the Vuelta, the undisputed best rider and able to clip away from everyone and then go solo for the win, just the kind of strategy he could deploy here. Adam Yates has bided his time during the Vuelta and has won the Clasica San Sebastian in 2015.

Who is Italy’s best chance? Gianni Moscon has looked almost invincible of late, winning twice in recent weeks but it was the manner of the wins, the way he simply rode away on the climbs and if anyone could stay on his wheel the sprint victory was a formality. This time though he’s got two problems, the climb to Höll could be his undoing – although if he looks big on the bike he weighs less than you might think – and if he arrives for a sprint then this time he risks facing the likes of Alaphilippe and Valverde. An awkward press conference would await. Given the course’s similarity to the Tour of Lombardy – a succession of steady climbs followed by a steep wall before the finish – this ought to be Vincenzo Nibali‘s dream course but he’s still on the comeback after his Tour de France crash. He improved during the Vuelta but has yet to look convincing but who picked him for Sanremo?

Michał Kwiatkowski has won before and comes here in good form with four place in the time trial and once again if there’s a moment’s hesitation he could get away, he’s excellent on the descents and can win a sprint too, his challenge is coping with the repeat climbs, it’s up to other nations to make the race too hard for riders like him.

Wherever Julian Alaphilippe goes, Bob Jungels does too. They worked well together for Jungels to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year, they trained in the mountains together before the Tour de France and even shared a holiday in August too. Now they’re rivals but Jungels is similar to Moscon, a powerful rider and he could thrive on a course like this, just as he did when he won the spectacular Giro stage to Bergamo in 2017.

The Colombians have a strong team and should be visible with the attacks on the last two laps. Nairo Quintana and Miguel-Angel Lopez have to attack to win while Rigoberto Uran has the one day race pedigree, although this is infrequent to put it generously.

The Dutch have a strong team but how to win? The likes of Steven Kruijswijk, Wout Poels and Tom Dumoulin all look strong and climb well but if they’re in contention it’s likely Valverde and Alaphilippe are too and they sprint much better.

Belgian bring the Lotto-Soudal tandem of Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens, they’re firm outsiders while Greg Van Avermaet did win a very hilly Olympics course that looked to be beyond his range, this course surely has too much climbing for him and too many teams need to make it a hard race. Dylan Teuns could be the best hope, strong in the Vuelta but not quite where he wanted to be.

Primož Roglič (Slovenia) has yet to win a one day race in his career although he’s got all the attributes, his form isn’t obvious after a quiet Tour of Britain. Rattling through other names there’s a long tail of outsiders but the Worlds rarely smiles on them, especially on selective courses. Still Michael Woods (Canada) had a great Vuelta, Rein Taaramäe (Estonia) is enjoying late season form and Jacob Fuglsang (Denmark) can feature but a win is a long shot.

Julian Alaphilippe
Alejandro Valverde, Michał Kwiatkowski
Simon Yates, Gianni Moscon, Bob Jungels, Thibaut Pinot
A Yates, Nibali, Uran, Poels, Bardet, Teuns

Weather: cool and cloudy, the sun might appear at times and a top temperature of 21°C.

TV: the race starts at 9.50am CEST and finishes around 4.50pm. Tune in to watch the pace ratchet up, there’s often a sense in the Worlds circuit races that riders are leaving things too late, that time is running out but that’s precisely because everyone knows the last three laps are crucial and the final lap is intense.

It’s on Eurosport and other channels. It is on the UCI youtube channel but if you visit and it’s blocked that means it should be on TV in your country.

113 thoughts on “World Championships Road Race Preview”

  1. Can’t wait for this. So exciting when there are 20-30 riders legitimately in with a shout.

    No mention of Pozzovivo who reckons he’s doing his best numbers.

    I will be rooting for ABM (Anybody but Moscon).

    • Quite frankly, this Moscon bashing sickens me. I fail to see anything positive in this modern day variant of a lynch mob mentality or how people seek and get instant gratification out of being social media judges, juries and executioners or how easily otherwise decent people revert to a kind of character assassination in order to feel good about themselves and their so called values – all based upon evidence that they would hardly accept without thinking twice if the target or cvictim was a real person, i.e. someone they actually know.

      That said, I’d be happy to see any Italian rider on the podium.

      • +1

        Cycling is full of different characters, it’s part of the spectacle we enjoy.
        If he wins, it will be because he was the best rider and so a deserved WC.

        • +100. It is a bike race not a mind numbing PC competition ridden in ballet shoes.

          So far the road course has been selective and conducive to aggressive racing. May the best rider win, whatever his personal characteristics.

          • ‘In ballet shoes’… this is quite revealing of the sort of person supporting Moscon. As though being unimpressed by his racism is some how feminine and delicate, and that being either of those is a bad thing…

          • Why would ballet shoes imply femininity?
            Ballet dancers are incredibly athletic (besides being awesome at other things) and tough as nails, I would go so far as to say they are the world’s first professional athletes.

        • I actually don’t know where I stand on Moscon?

          I couldn’t subscribe to something as simplistic as ABM but it’s tough to go with ‘any one who wins we should support etc’ with him, which I’d usually go for 100%.

          On the one hand he’s young, and none of us know his background so I feel we should give him the benefit of the doubt to an extent.

          We are also not inside the peloton, so while his last interview seemed ill advised, we don’t really know the full details so it’s harsh to judge. Especially when some of this could be a lack of media skill.

          He’s also talented and it’s great to see talented riders fulfil their potential.

          But then, there is a pattern of poor behaviour, two of which if true are exceptionally so, plus his seeming difficulty in coming across as believably penitent. It’s hard not to think he is a straight up bad guy currently who needs some comeuppance to learn how to be a better person. I worry though that this is massively presumptuous on my part, so I think I’m +1 with you Eskerrik Asko. It’s just bike racing at the end of the day.

          • Alex. You presume too much. The ‘racism’ card has been dealt with and Moscon has been punished for the offense. To continue with the dreary theme demeans your argument. Do you know Moscon or me – no thought not, so presumption and accusations are best left aside.

            For your information I am not a Moscon supporter so your attempt at stereotyping also fails.

            Do you know men wear ballet shoes ? What has feminism got to do with posts on potential Male World Champions ?

      • Call me old fashioned, but I rather not see a rider who spewed racist slurs and not once publicly apologized or even atoned for it become a world champion.

        Hopefully we will have an interesting race, I believe we have the course and a fantastic field of riders for it!

      • Seriously tho? Not being racist is a low a bar to clear as there is. It’s not character assassination, either. He was sanctioned for it. It happened (and that’s leaving aside all the other stuff). I don’t know about you, but I’m more than happy to call out people I know if they use racial slurs, and I would be happy to see a world champion who doesn’t use them. It’s pretty simple.

        And no one’s calling for the guy to be persecuted, they’re just rooting against him in a bike race. Personally I’d rather root for any one of the many professional cyclists who haven’t been publicly sanctioned for racism, but you’re free to root for the one who has been if you want.

      • +1 I have no love or hate for him. If he wins on talent he deserves it. His behaviour has been immature, and I think he has some growing up to do to say the least, but the measure of a man is through his actions. You can’t undo the wrong, but you can try to do right, so we will see.

        The course looks like a good climber (or duo, such as Bardet and Pinot) could make a break and stay away using gaining time on the decent, and resting – though that perhaps precludes Pinot.

        It’d be nice to see the Yates boys give it a go, but I’m yet to really understand the dynamics of the teams in this race. Breakaways in the final 30-60km seem to stand the best chance due to the reduced team sizes. Riders that are alive to that tend to do well. Whereas a classics rider is normally favoured a climber with the balls to go for it should win.

      • +1

        Couldn’t agree more. Characterising someone as bad doesn’t encourage them to do good, either.

        Very much looking forward to the race, it’s exciting that it is so open. Hoping for a surprise result.

      • Amazing huh?

        Who would have thought people would have negative views about someone who has repeatedly shown themselves to be of demonstrably poor character and displayed next to zero self-awareness or contrition.

        The mind boggles.

          • For me it’s not a question of not liking Moscon as a person. I don’t like people who hang on to cars to gain an advantage (last years worlds), threaten other riders in a race (attempted punch/waved fist in this years Tour) or who may have deliberately crashed another rider of the course (this is uncertain & unproven, but such allegations are extremely rare).
            If any rider who is in with a chance of winning today does any of these things then it could change the outcome of the race. Surely it’s not PC to be against this?

  2. Should be a great race. I see a group of four or five going to the finish.

    This looks a great Worlds course: a real test of climbing, descending and (potentially) sprinting if it’s a bunch kick.

      • Over 4000m of ascent and a week after his 50km break at Paris – Roubaix was what I was referring to.
        Sagan doesn’t rate a chainring here, and is not mentioned in other reviews also.
        There’s a good reason for that of course but Sagan will not give his rainbow bands up lightly.
        I’m interested to see if / at what point he gets ejected from contention.
        I think he could surprise.

        • If Sagan is still there its because the peloton haven’t been bothered to shake him off. If the climbers race as they can there’s no way he should be around in the later laps, never mind the final climb.

          • ^brave man there

            can’t see how he as any chance, as this climb is almost 3x longer than the Cauberg plus that brutal ramp – and his climbing at the Vuelta didn’t give any indication otherwise – but if anyone can do the impossible it’s Sagan. would be amazing if he did pull it off, as unlikely as it is.

          • I judged Dumoulin’s relative form wrong regarding Dennis and immediately held my hand up as you can see in the comments. But, on the other hand, I did select the guy who finished 2nd. Hardly the worst choice.

            And now you’ve lost £50. Silly.

          • Just having a laugh. And you were indeed graceful in your reaction to the ITT and, correct or incorrect , I’ll take a strong opinion over fence-sitting every time.

  3. Alaphilippe looks as strong a favourite as anyone in recent years, it’s too easy to pick him for the win.

    I also think this course has arrived two or three years too late for Valverde.

    So perhaps Kwiatkowski, Poels and Benoot. GVA to ride with credit if not quite distinction.

    And ABM seconded.

  4. Alaphillipe to win following a failed long break from Pinot, allowing the former to save his matches, punch away on the final climb and descend away from the chasing group ala Nibali at Lombardia.

  5. Watching the races so far, it looks that the “Olympic” climb is relatively easy, worth hiding in the peloton. If the race doesn’t go crazy, Sagan could hide his way to the foot of the last climb. He has a chance to win. A small one.

  6. Absolute madness that an in-form Matthews isn’t going. Did the selectors forget that he was 5th at Fleche? They even had the chance to rectify things after Porte dropped out… Also, I thought Bernal might have been a decent outsider but he’s not picked either, although the Colombian team look super-strong anyway.

    Other outsiders: Dan Martin (on the start list, but not sure he’s starting?), GVA (reckon he’s got a chance based on), Konrad (the only local with a chance?).

    My podium prediction: Pinot, Poels, A Yates.

  7. “An awkward press conference would await “? Now that I’ve read this I’m going to be rooting for Moscon for no other reason than to prove that statement to be the _______ that it is, though I agree Alaphilippe is the man to beat on Sunday, unless Nibali’s recovery is 100% by raceday, which would take some sort of miracle I’m afraid.

      • The press conference could get awkward if the questioning goes back to the Reza incident where he used a racist slur (never understood why people think he’s therefore racist as he could easily have said it from bigotry and ignorance) and to the Seb Reichenbach incident where he was cleared via lack of evidence which of course doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. You could see a press conference that starts with that line of questioning getting completely away from the race and that’s awkward for the UCI and embarrassing (deserved or not) for Moscon.

        • …..because the cycling press are so spearing in their search for social justice. Give me a break.
          Do you think it would be better if Valverde won? His doping links to the ‘past’ might have a bearing on his impressively long career now, but do you think they will be making awkward questions about it? Save me for listening to the hypocrisy.
          Moscon is not my choice for winner, but few riders are saints. Those that wish for a Valverde win appear to have white washed the chapel they choose to worship in.

          • What are you talking about RQS? All I did was give a reason why Inrng had written that it might get awkward at a presser if Moscon won. My first sentence includes “could” and “if” in the first 7 words. Where does it say anything about “the cycling press are so spearing in their search for social justice”?

            I can only imagine you weren’t actually replying to me because your response seems at odds with the reality of my post.

      • I’m assuming either the racism (and punching dudes, maybe crashing Reichenbach, etc) or his DQ last year from the car tow. Or possibly Italian team drama w/Nibali. I’m not sure which of those Inrng is referencing, maybe all of it. Moscon has a lot of baggage.

        • Nice to see Larry supporting a Sky rider. Racist is as racist does. A good way of spotting racists is to see if they behave in a racist manner. Ergo, Moscon is a big fking racist.

          • So is calling someone a racist who is of a different race, who you’ve never met and only know for sure that on one occasion used a racist phrase and not in their own language, make you a racist too?

          • Er strange vibe on the comment section today. Seems to have been a nose-dive in last few months. Apologies if at any point I’ve contributed but let’s chill all this out and get back to the racing… It’s going to be quite an exciting Worlds hopefully…

            It’s not that unreasonable to be anti V & M, they seem to have both done some silly stuff, people are allowed to dislike, fine to state now let’s move on.

            Feels like there’s a top tier of climber/sprinters who are the faves, then a next level of more pure climbers who need to go from further or get a decisive gap and then some unknowns… very interested to see how Enric Mas goes, want to know tactics of the French, expecting Dumoulin and possibly Bardet to light it up early, and feel like Moscon could benefit from that by following their wheels… think we’ll get a surprise strong showing from someone like Mollema.

            All in all it’s set up beautifully, I’m loving this new generation of fearless riders who know when they need to attack in respect to their capabilities and do: Dumoulin, Yates, Bardet.

          • The guy served out his suspension and the other allegations were dropped. I’m no fan of Moscon but just to prove the statement wrong I’ll be rooting for him tomorrow. It won’t hurt that he’ll be in an Italian Team jersey rather than that of SKY either!

        • Must have missed the Nibali team drama. Though would be fairly rubbish journalism to grill him on his personal opinions just after he won the worlds… regardless of how f#%ked up they are.

          • Tbf (and unlike his personal transgressions), idk if any of the Italian team stuff is to do w/Moscon, more press speculation around Nibali abdicating leadership with implications of drama. No idea myself, and could very well be Shark just isn’t fully recovered.

            However I do think it’s absolutely fair play to question his past if he wins, especially given that the WC is an ambassador of sorts for all of pro cycling, including people like Kevin Reza and Reichenbach. Like anyone Moscon deserves a chance to reform himself but he also has to live with the consequences of what he’s already done.

          • @Barbarossa – anybody referencing Reichenbach in their desire to show how much they hate Moscon is merely revealing their own bigotry, ignorance and hypocrisy.

            Not guilty and a lack of any credible evidence stands in the record no matter how much the lynch mob froths and roars.

          • I don’t hate Moscon, nor have I given any indication I do. I am quite unforgiving of racist comments from anyone, and his record since hasn’t exactly shown stellar character. Still, what lynch mob? People are rooting against him. It’s hardly persecution, and he’s certainly earned it. Accusing someone of ignorance + bigotry for being AGAINST racist comments is a truly Orwellian mental inversion but for whatever mystifying reason a bunch of folks here are really hot + bothered to defend the guy’s honor. The hyperbole is nuts.

            In any regard, I didn’t bring up Reichenbach to say whether Moscon did/didn’t crash him (I have no idea) just to note that clearly there’s tension between them, and as a WC Moscon would’ve been a representative of all pro cyclists including ones he history with. Anyway, he didn’t win, we can all move on and continue to root/not root for him as each person sees fit.

    • Larry, this must be the equivalent of a solar eclipse because I will back Moscon too. Probably doesn’t have the sprint to beat old Valverde or young Valverde (Alaphilippe) but anything to contradict the faux outrage that many commenters come here to spout.

      If a Yates manages the win it will make for a nice UK symmetry to the cycling year. The trouble is traditionally UK riders are terrible in this race. Often most of them don’t even finish.

      • I wouldn’t wager a euro on the guy to be honest, it was just a response to the lame comment about the press conference so I’d be smiling if he won, but it’s hard to see past Alaphilippe – it would seem his race to lose.
        But as an unabashed Italo-phile I have to finish with FORZA AZZURRI!!!

  8. This is a tough one to call. Alaphillipe has the right characteristics – climbs, descends and sprints well. But the Worlds are nothing if not unpredictable. A daring descent to catch the leaders, and a world-class sprint makes me think Sagan is not completely out of it. Or he’ll be invisible and pull out after a couple of laps. Yates and Pinot looked great in the Vuelta. Any of these guys could take it, but my surprise pick is Benoot!

  9. Any recommendations on where are the best/ most interesting locations on the course to watch the race live at? Am considering going to Innsbruck and would be thankful for input from fellow readers.

    @Inrng: many thanks for the insightful pre-race coverage and having us here.

  10. It’s on Eurosport and other channels. It is on the UCI youtube channel but if you visit and it’s blocked that means it should be on TV in your country.

    Most grateful to this piece of info n tips., Inrng. Thank you. I could see your dedication in cycling and to many of environmental friendly would be, now and future cyclists. Less is more.

    • … and if your country is covered by Eurosport in the “PAN Europe” group of countries, then you’re f***ed again because not everyone has access to eurosport.
      So, again it’s the pirate streams… :-\

  11. Ideally I’d want Kwiatkowski to win as he’s the best alround rider in the peloton in my opinion. Alaphilippe isn’t far behind though and is a class act, so he’d make a nice winner. It’d be pretty cool to have a top class GC man in rainbows for once, Yates (S) seems the most likely out of those. I’ve got a feeling though we’ll end up with a Rui Costa style champ who barely wins any races. Poels maybe.

  12. Woods as a dark horse, tho his Vuelta win may have been his Wimbledon for this season (Agassi said he could die happy after winning it)
    Or Yates or Kwiato or Alaphil.
    In the ABM stakes, our inverse preferences, I cant get excited for Valverde – ABV. Hope it’s a good champion- totally agree ‘re Rui Costa, cycling needs stars and we need a star to be world champ.

  13. Fantastic preview, thank you.

    I’m very used to Worlds being dull as ditchwater till the final lap or two so am not getting too hyped.
    But it’s hard, so many people I’d be over the moon to see win – Pinot, Bardet, Yates, Quintana would all be so well deserved and a great repayment for years of consistency or at least potential in the Yates case.

    I assume the French team will put Pinot in a first break, Bardet in a second, Ala as the final bullet.
    I have a feeling the winner will come from a late attack/break that goes off a descent rather than climb.

    • Pinot, Bardet, Yates and Quintana? You do love punishing yourself Duncan. But why well deserved? Three of those are guys who have consistently proved to be not good enough. You like to reward trying hard as if this were some politically correct school egg and spoon race where you get a prize for taking part?

      • Partly yes.

        Basically I just think that anyone with the top15 of a GT is a damn good rider, and sometimes because they don’t win do not get the respect they deserve.

        Like when Cadel won, the Worlds can be a moment where even if they’re not all about to win the Tour, riders like this can have their moment in the sun.

        Of course Ala/Val have got to be the faves.

        I just respect what Bardet has done in one day races and in particular the Tour and how he inspires and works his teams despite a smaller budget than many others. He’s proved himself a top rider, and even if a Tour victory is a stretch, a Worlds victory would be well deserved.

        Similar for Pinot, he’s not quite done what Bardet has, but he’s a brilliant rider who’s a notch below the best but multiple GT stage victories show he’s really someone who’s talent would be deserving of a victory that would elevate him above a simple stage poacher.

        The Yates are a bit different, their clearly going to be serial winners for years to come and a victory here would just be another mark of their quality as we head into what I expect will be the Bernal/Dumoulin/Yates era (pos a few others, Lopez, Mas).

        Finally Quintana… come on? Who could begrudge Quintana winning? Admittedly I would be absolutely stunned and cannot see it happening in a million years, but most of cycling would be happy for someone who’s career is currently on the slide to remind us of his quality? I just fail to see him winning from a small group and staying clear on the flat, nor attacking early etc etc

        • All Bardet has done in “one day races and the Tour” is lose them. He has a miniscule win ratio. That’s a fact not anti-Bardet bias. You’re allowed to like him but that doesn’t put any more wins in his palmares. The other day he was outsprinted by Moscon.

  14. I’m going for a rider yet to have a pro win (I think) but arguably one who should already have a GT to his name. For me you have to not just a rider that can get to the base of the last climb (several lightweights will be shelled on the big laps) but force the pace up and over it – and for me I think the big laps will sap the punch from the favoured puncheurs on the ‘hell climb’ and they may well be thinking of the finish line watching each other and let gaps go. Enough clues….

  15. “A Yates” for a single chainring. Does that mean “a Yates” as in “either Yates” or “A Yates” as in Adam Yates – in which case why only the initial for him and the full first name for his brother?

  16. Is it Possible Jungels will support his QS buddy in the race? Maybe even De Plus too? Judging from the TT results they don’t’t seem to be in such a splendid form after all. Juju might need it too, he’s a bit of a loner in a team dominated by AG2R and FdJ, hard to see how Bardet or Pinot would sacrifice their chances to help another French guy out.
    Chances for the Belgians are slim I’m afraid but I’m quite sure Tim Wellens will give it a solid go and open up the battles between the favourites. If Teuns can hang on to Bala’s or Juju’s wheel he might come home with a good result.

    • Interesting thought about team/country allegiances. I know it’s a factor every year, but this course seems to lend itself to so many contenders – same goes for Moscon/Nibali/Pozzovivo, or Dumoulin/Poels/Mollema.

      In terms of the Belgians, I think GVA could surprise and I hope that Benoot shows some Strade Bianche form.

    • Ok, trying to look at Moscon objectively. He’s won two Italian 1.1 races in the last few weeks and was third ahead of four non-sprinters in the Tour of Lombardy last year. That to me doesn’t make him a favourite, just a long outside chance for the podium. No chance at all head to head with Alaphillipe, Valverde, Kwiatkowski, either Yates and several others in a race of this magnitude on this course.

      Italy, traditionally a powerhouse at the Worlds, have failed to deliver in recent years and I can’t see that changing with Nibali looking sketchy post-TdF crash. Pozzovivo? Yeah right!

  17. No idea who will win but whoever it is needs to send a big thank you card to the Aussie selectors who thought that Bling didn’t deserve a spot!

    Hey Inrng… no chainring for EBH? Have you two had a row or something?

  18. I say Roglic deserves a ring or two, but my grandparents were from Slovenia, so I’m biased. If the team cook puts a few cevapcici wrapped in a cabbage leaf in his musette, he should prevail. The original Powerbar. But it may be considered garlic-doping.

    I think Belgium should slip Remco onto the team as a last-minute addition and let him crush the field.

  19. Dan Martin, if he has ridden his bike much during the past few weeks with the arrival of children (big caveat!!) would be worth a punt.

    Expect a slow burner of a race, the final climb is so selective that I can imagine all of the main guys waiting until then.

    Great racing so far in the championships from all categories, hopefully the men can round it off nicely.

  20. Tactics:

    If mid-race (with the long-season tired and many non-climbers already eliminated) France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands are represented in a breakaway, who will have the force and will to bring it back? The strength in depth of France and the Netherlands suggest this strategy while the UK have far less behind Yates*2 for a similar long-range effort or chase. A race to be decided by the strongest breakaway rider on the final climb – Wout Poels? Can’t wait!

    • You were right that those countries had the most indepth strength. If there would have been a breakaway with 3/4 riders from those countries, it probably could’ve gone all the way to the finish. But no one really broke clear until the last lap, although quite a few tried! Especially the Dutch were quite active with Tolhoek (amazing ride!), Oomen (ditto) and Kruijswijk. In the end it was a waiting game and Spain continued to shut moves down (which was the right tactic for them, in hindsight).

  21. Someone not mentioned as a leading contender will win today. The main contenders will be left behind marking eachother in anticipation for the brutal finale. A gutsy all-or-nothing breakaway will take the day. A good death is it’s own reward!

  22. Roglic deserves 2 or maybe even 3 chainrings. Where does this bias come from? Actually I’m telling you, Roglic will win. In case he doesn’t win he’ll be second behind Alaphilippe.

    • To be fair to Inrng, his chances of winning are low. He’s never won a one day race and taking out 1.2 races, his best result is 21st at San Seb last year. He hasn’t got a sprint so he would need to go solo and even though this is possible, it’s unlikely. The chainrings represent the chances of winning. If he were to finish in the top 10, it wouldn’t be a total shock but that’s not winning.

  23. If the world champion of men‘s cycling would be someone, who

    – attacked a fellow rider with racist insults
    – was accused by a fellow rider of crashing him as retaliation, because he made public his racism
    – furiously raced towards another fellow rider, positioned himself in a manner all too familiar for way too many women (his body language was horrifying to watch for someone like me, who watched a man hit someone, he perceives as overstepping their boundaries, which was exactly, what moscon did)

    it would seem, that it reflects sadly, but perfectly the state of the world. I am pretty sure, that in a very, very, very small way (of course not as much as trump or kavanagh, but in a tiny way) moscon as world champion would just strengthen the will of all of us, who are fed up with this kind of behaviour and privilege. It is ridiculous, that he is even allowed to ride in a peloton, after trying to harm and insult so many of his fellow riders (and that are only the things we know about).

    I am pretty sure, the uci also prays, „not moscon, please, not moscon“. As to the comment, that it is „a strange vibe here“ (I guess, this means, that people are not ok with racism and violence…). Hell yeah, about time

    • Sorry, a sentence is missing, this is, how it should have read:
      If the world champion of men‘s cycling would be someone, who

      – attacked a fellow rider with racist insults
      – was accused by a fellow rider of crashing him as retaliation, because he made public his racism
      – furiously raced towards another fellow rider, positioned himself in a manner all too familiar for way too many women (his body language was horrifying to watch for someone like me, who watched a man hit someone, he perceives as overstepping their boundaries, which was exactly, what moscon did) and tried to hit him/hit him

      it would seem, that it reflects sadly, but perfectly the state of the world. I am pretty sure, that in a very, very, very small way (of course not as much as trump or kavanagh, but in a tiny way) moscon as world champion would just strengthen the will of all of us, who are fed up with this kind of behaviour and privilege. It is ridiculous, that he is even allowed to ride in a peloton, after trying to harm and insult so many of his fellow riders (and that are only the things we know about).

      I am pretty sure, the uci also prays, „not moscon, please, not moscon“. As to the comment, that it is „a strange vibe here“ (I guess, this means, that people are not ok with racism and violence…). Hell yeah, about time!

      • Moving on…. what about that ex-doper that just won the World Championship at the staggering age of 38? Who’d have thought he would be out sprinting younger pros?!

        Is one crime lesser than another one ponders?!

        • On this blog the comments criticising cheating are reserved for the Froomes of this world who have never been found guilty of it and this is done by means of casting aspersions or issuing umpteen hypotheticals. If you have actually cheated by engaging in a blood doping program, something for which you were actually convicted and sanctioned, then, by all means, race on with the cheers of the crowd ringing in your ears.

          I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

  24. What a ride! Shame about the BBC coverage. Apparently talking about next year’s event is more important than showing the winner of this year’s event get his rainbow jersey.

    “We don’t know if we’ll have time to show it” You can hear him getting it on the pa in the background!!!! Sheesh…

    • He’s a brilliant rider despite all the rubbish

      Funny day today – some great performances (Dumo, Moscon) and some surprising bails (Kwiato, Poels etc) – overall for all the great cycling memories I have each year, the worlds rarely features on the list, for me the week long event fails to deliver in the entertainment stakes most of the time, and it’s a shame given the prestige of the jersey. I’d almost find a Hammer-esq series more fun. 200km+ of boredom almost every year is just not really worth it? Saying that, as a die hard I will continue to watch each year in the hope of something making it more worthwhile.

      (ps does the event have to be a week? seems excessive)

  25. “Er strange vibe on the comment section today. Seems to have been a nose-dive in last few months”.

    Well I totally agree with that comment from Duncan(old Dave) and you 123 draw a conclusion that is incorrect and some would say offensive. The norm. But don’t let the facts deter you from playing the same old song. No one is talking about racism, violence or Trump….. except a select few who have appeared in this place recently and appear to think their personal and political views override general relaxed conversation – bike racing. It has become tedious in the extreme. I am going to take a break from @inrngs splendid blog as it has spoiled an excellent place. 123 in your two lengthy posts above you illustrate the point precisely. No comment on the event in question, but more of the same, proven unproven and political. It’s a blog about bike racing, not political views. It’s a broken record that most of us hear daily in the MSM. Give up and leave those who appreciate bike racing to discus their subject without constant interference.

    I hope you and your bedfellows like the character of the new world champion !

    • Not that you’ll read this, but bike racing is as political as any other sport. This season we’ve seen the Giro start in Israel, as an attempt at sportswashing by the Israeli government, unsavoury regimes from Kazakhstan to Bahrain doing the same with sponsorship, and the usual berating of Team Sky by those who seem to believe they take team orders direct from Rupert Murdoch. And you may have spotted that todays competitors were wearing national team jerseys. International sport is political by definition. That’s an inescapable fact.

      • +100. the political/not political divide is a false one. Especially absurd to claim for cycling, which was born (see the history of the TDF) and continues to be steeped in nationalism. Not to mention – Hinault punching a striking dockworker, the Vuelta’s decades-long absence from the Basque country to avoid the ETA/nationalist struggle, Gino Bartali’s WWII heroics, etc. Cycling, like anything, exists in the world beyond cycling. I don’t see how discussion of tactics etc and discussion of the greater world around cycling are mutually exclusive. Inrng himself frequently posts about team finances and sponsorship (anyone who hasn’t seen it should look up the particularly excellent in-depth article on the history of Igor Makarov and Katusha).

        Also just tbc being against Moscon doesn’t mean being for Valverde, dunno what weird logic that is. For me doping is still probably not as bad as racism (others may disagree) but that doesn’t mean I find Valverde a particularly inspiring champion either. It is what is.

        • Cycling doesn’t take place in a bubble, the politics around is relevant. But often the comments can get dragged into stale, ill-tempered arguments because of politics and readers end up arguing with each other rather than talking about sport and to put it mildly, the chances of winning a fellow reader over to a point of view by taking pot-shots at them are low. It just leads to a boring set of comments which quickly end up having very little to do with the race… as this very thread proves.

          I’ll wield the “spam” button more often, too many ranting or rude comments direct at other readers are appearing, albeit only from a handful of people. Once people’s messages go to the spam folder and the anti-spam software is more likely to pick up their repeat comments as spam.

        • Condemning racism is just about decency and humanity, not politics. Only some see a literal red flag when someone take a stand against racist behaviour.

      • Good point. So is Nationalism a good idea for Liberals? I would suggest it fosters division, and a likely outcome of that is fascism, racism and bigotry, so should Liberals even be watching the World Championships?!

        Look, I am just pointing out the hyprocrisy that exists when you get idealistic and moralistic about these things. Trying to be black and white about all of this futile – there are thin red lines that you don’t want to cross, but being dogmatic about this is hypocritical and unrealistic. Sport takes the place of politics, and so while you may object to Bahrain and Israel on the grounds of human rights, no one here is boycotting the US teams when the US can be seen to be culpable of human rights failures (Quantanamo anyone? Or more recently the removal of children from illegal migrants, a farago which will take years to sort out).

        Gino Bartoli is a personal hero of mine, but he didn’t wear his politics on his sleeve. He was pragmatic about the distinction of cycling and what happened off the bike. I just think the sanctimonious approach by some seems to lose focus on the sport, which why we are here.

        I don’t think Bartoli would approve of Moscon, but I think he would have sought to have tried to teach him the error of his ways. I’d like to think he would too.

        • On another comments section earlier tonight I read someone defending Valverde against drugs accusations by saying he felt sorry for people who did not believe in forgiveness.

          The question is, what do we give forgiveness for and does it require those in receipt of it to do anything first? I have read Moscon apologies for the things he did, albeit they were of course corporate and demanded by his team. But, tell me, where can I read Valverde’s apology for his past cycling habits?


        • Absolutely, nothing is 100% black and white, including Moscon’s situation (ignoring the obvious pun there), I’d never suggest otherwise. I don’t think it’s sanctimonious to not root for him, but people can disagree. As I said about Valverde, disliking some of cycling’s more grotesque sponsors or race locations doesn’t indicate support for the U.S. or anything else. We all make our own choices every day about what compromises to accept or not in an imperfect world. All I was saying is that cycling is a part of that, and so it’s not inappropriate to discuss it on a cycling website, tho certainly in balance with talking riders, races, tactics, etc. I’m not trying to win anyone to a particular ideological discussion – that would be inappropriate on a cycling website – just have thoughtful discourse that reflects cycling’s rich tradition in all its facets.

          @inrng – Not sure if you’re referring to me in particular, but I’d strongly disagree anything I’ve said here or in any thread is ranting, rude, or potshots at anyone. I try pretty hard to be conscientious, tho certainly I’m imperfect. As always I respect the work you do to run the best cycling site around and ultimately it’s your call what define as spam.

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