George Deswijzen

RACE PREVIEW: The World Road Race Championships

The biggest race of the year has arrived and the world’s best riders have assembled in Yorkshire for the 2019 World Road Championship. After months of meticulous preparations, weeks of brutal training, just 150km of racing ’round the Dales’ stand between the contenders and the most coveted jersey in cycling!

The Course

The 150km route starting in Bradford and finishing in Harrogate sees the peloton race deep into the Yorkshire Dales and take on some of the area’s gnarliest climbs. The terrain is very challenging; relentless undulations, short, sharp, steep gradients as well as technical, narrow and grippy roads. It looks set to be a brutal and attritional day, which will certainly provide thrilling racing.

Leaving Bradford the race travels through Lizze Deignan’s home town, Otley, before reaching the first categorised climb – Norwood Edge. With just 15.5km raced, the climb won’t be too selective but will no doubt start the whittling down process. Measuring in at 1.9km in length, with an average gradient of 9.2% and a maximum of 15.7% it may well act as a launch pad for the day’s first break as well as a litmus test for the favourites who will start to trade psychological blows on these slopes.

The next categorised climb comes at Lofthouse, 48km into the race. At 2.9km in length with an average gradient of 8.7% and maximum of 17.6%, Lofthouse is likely to be used to thin out the bunch and possibly set up strategic moves.

After 107km of difficult, undulating, leg sapping terrain, riders will face 3 laps of the 14km finishing circuit around Harrogate. The kermesse style finish to the race is by no means easy either. There is hardly a flat road on the circuit, it features several sharp, punchy climbs as well as technical corners before finishing with a drag up to the finish.

150km in length, around 2400m of elevations, technical roads and challenging terrain gives Yorkshire an Ardennes Classic-esque feel and it will undoubtedly crown a very worthy winner.

The favourites

‘Otley lass’ and local favourite Lizzie Deignan will be hoping she can triumph on home roads and complete a fairytale return to the sport after a year out following the birth of her daughter. Deignan, who won Worlds in 2015, has had a good year so far taking a convincing win at this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour. The 30 year old will be hoping she can captalise on the home advantage and take victory on the roads she grew up riding on.

Deignan, however, faces stiff competition most notably from the Dutch squad who arguably bring the strongest ever team seen in a world championships. Defending champion Anna van der Breggen, 2017 champion Chantal Blaak as well as three time champion, Marianne Vos (2013, 2012, 2006), line up alongside the imperious Anemiek van Vleuten (former world TT champion and Giro winner in 2019 and 2018). They will be supported by Amy Pieters (current European road champion), Floortje Mackaij, Lucinda Brand and Demi Vollering. Any one of the Dutch women could win on Saturday and they have riders that suit a number of race scenarios. The big question for the team is whether they have enough cohesion and teamwork to bring the stripes back to the Netherlands for the third consecutive year.

Australia are another very strong team and have built their squad around supporting Amanda Spratt. Unlike the Dutch, Australia have a clear leader and this may well prove to be strategically important, especially with the strength in depth and experience of the team. The 31 year old from New South Wales will be supported by Brodie Chapman, Lucy Kennedy, Lauren Kitchen, Tiffany

Cromwell, Jess Allen and Chloe Hosking. Spratt will be confident they can help her upgrade her silver from last year and she will no doubt be looking to make use of the climbs in the race.

Team USA will be hoping they can bring back the stripes for the first time since 1980 and with a powerful squad they certainly have the players to animate the race. Ruth Winder, Coryn Rivera, Tayler Wiles and Chloe Dygert-Owen line up alongside Leah Thomas, Katie Hall and Leigh Ann Ganzar. Relatively unknown to the European peloton before these championships, Dygert-Owen obliterated the field in dramatic fashion in Tuesday’s time trial. The 22 year old from Brownsburg, Indiana, has been described as a ‘young phenomenon’ by those at USA cycling and after her emphatic victory on Tuesday her confidence will be high. Could she be the first women since Jeannie Longo in 1995 to do ‘the senior double’ and the first ever rider to do both the junior and senior double?

The current Italian national champion and former world champion, Marta Bastianelli (2007), will be looking to add another rainbow jersey to her collection this weekend. The 32 year old has had a good year with three World Tour victories and will certainly fancy her chances if she makes it to the finishing circuits in the front group. Other Italians who may also pose a threat include Elisa Longo Borghini and Tatiana Guderzo.

A selective and challenging course awaits riders on Saturday and Yorkshire will no doubt provide thrilling and dramatic action for fans. The battle for the most coveted jersey in cycling will be fiercely fought and whoever triumphs will be a worthy wearer of the prestigious rainbow bands.

Summary

When:

28th September, 11:40 – 16:00 (BST)

Where:

Bradford to Harrogate, England

What:

150km Road Race

Who to watch:

Marianne Vos *****

Anna van der Breggen ****

Anemiek van Vleuten ****

Lizzie Deignan ****

Amanda Spratt ***

Marta Bastianelli ***

Top Outsider:

Chloe Dygert-Owen

TV Coverage:

BBC Red button (UK) Eurosport (Europe) FuboTV (USA) Flobikes (Canada)



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