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Next week will see the peloton swap trade team jerseys for national colors as the cycling world heads Down Under for the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia.
The eight-day competition kicks off Sunday, September 18, and will run until the following Sunday, September 25.
It’s the first time in 12 years that the competition will go to Australia and only the second time in the event’s 101-year history that the antipodean nation will play host.
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Defending elite champions Elisa Balsamo, Filippo Ganna, and Ellen van Dijk are all set to return to make another bid for the rainbow stripes. Two-time men’s road race champion Julian Alaphilippe is an uncertainty after he dislocated his shoulder in a crash at the Vuelta a España earlier in the month.
While there are only 11 events, a total of 13 champions will be crowned across the eight days, a record number for the road worlds. That’s thanks to the addition of a women’s U23 category, which will be contested within the pre-existing elite events.
Get ready for all of the action with this breakdown of the events, routes, and racers.
Since it was announced, the road race route has undergone some tweaking with the organizers settling on a mostly hilly, classics-style parcours with an added punchy climb near the start that makes it very hard to predict.
Both men’s and women’s elite road races consist of three parts. First is the lead into Wollongong from the start in Helensburgh, the riders will then head onto the Mount Keira loop before returning to Wollongong for the finishing circuits — the men will do 12 laps while the women will do six.
Thanks in part to the inclusion of Mount Keira, the men’s road race will see 3,945m of climbing, and the women will have 2,433 meters to contend with.
Mount Keira starts a little over 30k into the race. While it’s hardly an Alpine ascent, it is difficult enough that it could put some of the sprinters into trouble early on. The ascent lasts 8.7 kilometers and averages a gradient of five percent, with several pitches in the double digits and a peak of 15 percent.
The Wollongong circuit features two far shorter climbs, Mount Ousley and Mount Pleasant. The two come almost back-to-back with Mount Ousley providing the aperitif for Mount Pleasant, the more challenging of the two. Mount Pleasant is a one-kilometer ascent with a maximum gradient of 14 percent.
While it’s not particularly long, it will prove wearing as the riders tackle it multiple times.
The time trial course will tackle Mount Ousley but will skip Mount Pleasant as it takes a different route back towards the start/finish line. The route and distance will be exactly the same for both men and women with both completing two circuits of the Wollongong circuit for a total of 34.2km.
The terrain is not too challenging, but the course is tight and technical and will really test the riders’ cornering skills. The longest section of straight road comes as the route heads along the seafront toward the final kilometer, which then turns into several tight bends before the riders can get the finish in their sights.
Women’s elite road race
Men’s elite road race
Elite time trials
Riders to watch
Women’s time trial: Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands), Marlen Reusser (Switzerland), Kristen Faulkner (United States), Leah Thomas (United States), Grace Brown (Australia), Georgia Baker (Australia).
Men’s time trial: Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), Filippo Ganna (Italy), Stefan Küng (Switzerland), Ethan Hayter (Great Britain), Yves Lampaert (Belgium), Lawson Craddock (United States), Magnus Sheffield (United States), Bauke Mollema (Netherlands).
Women’s road race: Grace Brown (Australia), Amanda Spratt (Australia), Lotte Kopecky (Belgium), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Emma Norsgaard (Denmark), Liane Lippert (Germany), Pfeiffer Georgi (Great Britain), Anna Henderson (Great Britain), Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Elise Chabbey (Netherlands), Veronica Ewers (United States), Kristen Faulkner (United States), Juliette Labous (France), Elisa Balsamo (Italy), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy).
Men’s road race: Michael Matthews (Australia), Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), Wout van Aert (Belgium), Magnus Cort (Denmark), Fred Wright (Great Britain), Ethan Hayter (Great Britain), Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), Dylan van Baarle (Netherlands), Julian Alaphilippe (France), Magnus Sheffield (United States), Neilson Powless (United States).
- Sunday, September 18: Women’s and men’s elite time trials
- Monday, September 19: Men’s U23 time trial
- Tuesday, September 20: Men’s and women’s junior time trials
- Wednesday, September 21: Mixed team relay
- Friday, September 23: Men’s junior and U23 road races
- Saturday, September 24: Women’s junior and elite road races
- Sunday, September 25: Men’s elite road race
How to watch
Viewers in the USA and Canada will be able to watch the full week of racing on FloBikes, while people in the UK and Ireland will be able to watch it on GCN+.