At 285 kilometres and featuring 24 uphills, the road race at the Worlds in Yorkshire is all about survival of the fittest. Following the start in Leeds, the riders race 185 kilometres on a route that mimics the Tour de France Grand Départ stage from 2014. With approximately 100 kilometres remaining the route continues onto a tough and technical circuit in and around Harrogate, which is repeated seven times.
The 185 kilometres run-in to the Harrogate circuit features three uphills. The Cray is 6.6 kilometres long and with its average gradient at 1.3% a friendly introduction to the vertical attrition up ahead. The Buttertubs – 6 kilometres at 2.5% – and Grinton Moor – 4.4 kilometres at 5.3% – are the other uphills during the rolling opening of the World Championships road race.
Obviously, the race will come down to the testing Harrogate circuit. Amounting to 14 kilometres, the local round takes in three ascents. All three are not hard in themselves, but the repetition is going to do the damage. Otley Road runs uphill for 1.6 kilometres at 3.4% and the Pot Bank climb is 600 metres long while the average gradient sits at 3.5%. The last ascent in each round is crested 5 kilometres before the line, so it is probably going to be decisive in the finale. It is a steep pull up of 1 kilometre at 6% with some double digit sections in the first half.
It must be a versatile rider who’ll win the road race at the Worlds in Yorkshire. Climbing legs are a prerequisite on the trying course, but given the moderate length and inclination of most uphills a sprint of a select group is a likely outcome. So fast legs will come in handy, too. The names of Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews and Mathieu van der Poel spring to mind. Others will want to drop those powerhouses in advance – Philippe Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaet, Julian Alaphilippe – to make the sprint even more select, while the likes of Jakob Fuglsang and Alexey Lutsenko probably opt for a long range attack.
Favourites World Championships Road Race
***** Mathieu van der Poel, Peter Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe
**** Greg Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert, Michael Matthews
*** Matteo Trentin, Alejandro Valverde, Alexey Lutsenko, Sam Bennett
** Alexander Kristoff, Tao Gheoghegan Hart, Mike Teunissen, Zdenek Stybar, Simon Clarke
* Remco Evenepoel, Niki Terpstra, Matej Mohoric, Primoz Roglic, Kasper Asgreen, Oliver Naesen