2010 Cycling World Championships Preview and Predictions
The UCI Road Cycling World Championships begin tomorrow in Geelong, Australia.
The UCI Road Cycling World Championships begin tomorrow in Geelong, Australia. The Under-23 men and the Elite women will compete in their time trials. This preview will concentrate on the Elite men's time trial and road race, which will take place on Thursday, September 30 and Sunday, October 3, respectively.
The Elite men's time trial will take place on a two-lap circuit that will total 45.8 km. The riders will begin the rolling course by going slightly downhill before tackling two short, steep climbs and a steep 120-m rise that will be the most challenging feature of the course. The descent will be a fast, 2.5-km one, and it will be followed by another short, steep climb. The riders will then make a rolling, slightly downhill descent before beginning a rolling but slightly uphill run to the start line to begin another circuit. Clearly, the rider who can best ration his energy over the whole course will win.
Who will that rider be? Fabian Cancellara is a nearly prohibitive favorite. In 2010, Spartacus, as the world's best time trialist is known in the peloton, has won the prologues of the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. In addition, he won Stage 19 of the 2010 Tour de France, an individual time trial. Cancellara lost Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana, an individual time trial, and then withdrew, saying that he was not sure that he would ride the worlds because he lacked winning form.
On Monday evening, however, the Swiss star announced that he would defend his title in Geelong. That was bad news for the competition, particularly because Cancellara has additional motivation for competing in Australia: He will attempt to become the first four-time world time trial champion. Look for the defending champion to win gold for the fourth time.
Tony Martin (Germany) is the only rider who might be able to keep up with Cancellara. The German beat Cancellara in the individual time trial in the 2010 Tour de Suisse. In addition, der Panzerwagen, as he is known, won his country's time trial championship and the overall and Stage 7 (an individual time trial) of the 2010 Eneco Tour. Martin was right when he said that Cancellara was nearly unbeatable but that he (Martin) had a chance if Cancellara did not have his best day and Martin had a very good one. Last year's bronze medalist should take the silver medal this time.
Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden), last year's bronze medalist, is Cancellara's teammate at Saxo Bank. In 2010, Larsson won the Swedish national time trial championship, Stage 21 (an individual time trial) of the Giro d'Italia, the overall and Stage 2 (an individual time trial) of the Tour du Limousin, and Stage 1 (an individual time trial) of the Tour a la Comunidad de Madrid. Last year's silver medalist will ride strongly and honorably. He will win the bronze medal.
The road race course will be 262.7 km long. The first 83 of these will be from Melbourne to Geelong, and they will be followed by 11 laps of a 15.9-km circuit. The key features of the circuit will be The Ridge, the summit of which is the race's highest point, and a second climb up to Aphrasia St. The second ascent will follow the descent from the first one. Eleven rides up these two climbs should break up the field and reduce it to a small group that will battle for the gold medal.
Who will win the gold medal? Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) seems to be the man to beat. The Belgian won Stages 3 and 19 of the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, as well as the 2010 Amstel Gold Race. Early in the season, Gilbert said that he did not fancy his chances in the worlds, but no one believes him anymore. Do not be surprised to see him win the gold medal.
Filippo Pozzato (Italy) won Stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia last spring and the Herald Sun Cycling Classic Ballarat this past Sunday. Moreover, the Italian finished third behind Gilbert and Tyler Farrar (United States) in Stage 19 of the 2010 Vuelta a Espana. The Italian is finding his form at the right time, and he will be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday. Handicapping him for silver is wise.
The bronze medal is harder to handicap than gold or silver. A number of worthy riders will fight for the last medal. Oscar Freire and Samuel Sanchez (both from Spain) cannot be discounted. The former is a three-time world road race champion and a sprinter who can stay near the lead on climbs such as the ones on Sunday's course. Sanchez finished fourth in the 2010 Vuelta and has the form and the experience to ride well in a one-day race, as his gold medal in the 2008 Olympic road race shows. Expecting these two riders to make the final break is a good move.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (Australia) will have the advantage of fighting on home ground. In addition, after having won the world championship in 2009, the Australian has found confidence that he lacked before and has won La Fleche Wallonne and two stages of the Giro d'Italia. He also wore the maillot jaune for a day in this year's Tour de France. He broke an elbow in the Tour and has been slow recuperating. Still, a defending champion can never be written off, particularly when he rides in front of his compatriots.
Thor Hushovd (Norway) won a stage of the 2010 Vuelta a Espana. He can stay with anyone who is not a specialist climber and has a good sprint at the finish. The course's finish is uphill, which will suit the Norwegian. He cannot be ruled out.
Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) has had a career year in one-day races. He has won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. However, since the spring, Spartacus has ridden two Grand Tours, and until two days ago, he was not sure that he would compete in Australia. He intends to compete in the time trial and road race, but if his form is not at its best, do not be surprised if he opts out of the latter. If Cancellara is at his best, winning the double is not out of the question.
Alexander Kolobnev (Russia) is the 2010 Russian road race champion, and he finished second at this year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He took the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic road race, and he won silver medals at the 2007 and 2009 world road race championships. The Russian knows what to do at the end of big races. His actions will merit attention in the closing kilometers of Sunday's race.
Who will win? Who will medal? Who will surprise? Who will disappoint? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out! On the road? Access Roadcycling.mobi from your mobile phone.