The 2022 Road Cycling World Championships are held in Wollongong, Australia, from September 18–25.
Over 1,000 cyclists compete in 11 events for men and women in the elite, under-23, and juvenile divisions.
The past two men’s and women’s road race champions were both from France: Julian Alaphilippe and Italy’s Elisa Balsamo, respectively.
2021’s time-trial champions were Ellen van Dijk of the Netherlands and Filippo Ganna of Italy.
Ethan Hayter, the world track champion, is in charge of Great Britain’s 26-person squad and will compete for a second rainbow jersey in the time trial and road race.
Hayter, who won the world omnium title in October of last year, and Fred Wright, who has excelled in the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana this year, will be joined by the women’s team’s Pfeiffer Georgi and Anna Henderson.
The excellent cast is led by Van Aert, Pogacar, and Alaphilippe
Belgium enters the event as the favorite to win their first elite men’s road race since Philippe Gilbert won in 2012. Their squad has 2012 Tour de France green jersey winner Wout van Aert and current Vuelta champion Remco Evenepoel.
Van Aert is the man to beat on a circuit that favors puncheurs thanks to his victories in one-day races earlier in the season at the Bretagne Classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, as well as his impressive performance at the Tour.
However, after defeating Van Aert at the most recent GP de Montreal, Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar, a two-time Tour champion, will also be optimistic about his chances.
Mount Keira’s ascent, Mount Pleasant’s several loops, and its challenging descent are unlikely to dissuade Pogacar, who will hope that his nearly 4,000 meters of ascent will work in his favor if a pack sprint occurs at the end of the exhausting 266.9 km course.
The star of a potent Dutch squad that also includes Bauke Mollema and Paris-Roubaix champion Dylan van Baarle this year is Mathieu van der Poel.
The hopes of France will mainly depend on Christophe Laporte, although Alaphilippe cannot be completely ruled out despite a season marred by injuries that caused him to miss the Tour.
Rapid-Step Alpha After suffering from two fractured ribs, a broken scapula, and a collapsed lung in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Vinyl Rider abandoned the race after crashing in the Vuelta, casting doubt on his ability to compete in Australia.
Biniam Girmay will want to help Eritrea build on its victories at Gent-Wevelgem and the Giro d’Italia by placing on the podium, while Giro champions Jai Hindley and Michael Matthews will attempt to make an impression at home.
Will the Dutch win the women’s road race?
The Dutch are heavy favorites to win the women’s elite road race after winning four in a row up until Balsamo broke their streak in Leuven a year ago.
The 164.3km course and 2,433m of elevation seem to work in Annemiek van Vleuten’s favor, but any of their eight riders may be touted as a legitimate contender.
The 39-year-old earned the championship in 2019 after winning the time trial in back-to-back seasons, and she has already accomplished a remarkable treble this season by winning the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, Giro d’Italia Donne, and Tour de France Femmes.
Marianne Vos, a three-time winner and highly decorated former Olympic champion, may emerge in a shortened sprint, and Demi Vollering, a teammate from the Netherlands who came in second to Van Vleuten in the Tour de France Femmes, is another formidable opponent.
In areas near to where she grew up, Grace Brown is regarded as Australia’s best chance. In the previous ten years, the host country has won three silver medals, but in the 64 years of this competition, they have never achieved first place.
The Italians, lead by the reigning champion Balsamo, Elisa Longo Borghini, and Silvia Persico, together with riders like Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of Denmark, Lotte Kopecky of Belgium, Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland, and Mavi Garcia of Spain, ought to be in the mix.
It’s a race against time
The men’s and women’s elite time trials kick off the Road World Championships’ opening day doubleheader.
The identical urban 34.2 km route, consisting of two 17 km rounds around Wollongong, is being run by both men and women south of Sydney.
After defeating Ellen Van Dijk to win the gold at the European Championships in Munich in August, Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser will be hoping to have the advantage over the Dutch specialist.
However, Brown and Van Vleuten, who is also scheduled to race in the mixed time trial, may have a significant impact on the result.
The rider to watch in the elite men’s race will be two-time defending champion Ganna, who won’t be dissapointed by Van Aert’s decision to focus just on the road race this time.
With Australia’s Rohan Dennis not competing, the Swiss team of Stefan Bissegger and Stefan Kung will try to duplicate their first and second-place finishes behind Ganna at the European Championships last month.
Pogacar and Yves Lampaert of Belgium might potentially be in the mix, along with Hayter of Great Britain, assuming the latter has fully recovered from his retirement from the Vuelta due to the Covid-19.