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"After I did a recon of the circuit, I am not sure if a bunch sprint is a possibility. It looks easier than it actually is. I think that a rider who is able to attack on the final climb can make it to the finish line. My form is still...

Photo: Sirotti










26.09.2015 @ 08:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Starting today, the road races will mark the beginning of the second phase of the World Championships. First, the junior women and men U23 will race for the world title. On Saturday the junior men and elite women will fight for glory and on Sunday the elite men will battle for the rainbow jersey.


The course in Richmond has a Flemish character. Especially the three hills – of which two are cobblestone hills – in the last five kilometres trigger to attack. De men elite will cover 261.4 kilometres on a road circuit which is 16.2 kilometres long. The peloton heads west from Downtown Richmond, which leads them to the historic boulevard Monument Avenue. After taking a 180-degree turn at the Jefferson Davis monument, the riders will ride through the Uptown district and the Virginia Commonwealth University. Next, the peloton follows the road along the canal to the 200 meter narrow and twisty Libby Hill Park, a cobbled climb, which is the first of three hills. Not much later, the riders face the next obstacle, which is the climb on 23rd Street. This is a straight cobbled road which is the steepest of the three hills on the course. In the last kilometre the riders have to concur Governor Street, which is the same climb as the one that the riders had to face in the team time trial and in the individual time trial. At the top of this 300 metres long ascent, there is still 680 meters in a slight slope to the finish. Conclusion: A challenging circuit where we probably will see the classics riders face the power sprinters.


Nine Lotto Soudal riders will participate at the World Championships for men elite on Sunday. One of them is Adam Hansen who will wear the Australian colours. The Aussies are one of the favourites to take the title, with Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews as team leaders. Greg Henderson will put on his New-Zealand kit. He is one of the three Kiwis along with Sam Bewley and Jesse Sergent. Neither of the three is a favourite to win the race, so maybe we will see them in attacks. In the Danish selection we find Lars Bak, accompanied by Matti Breschel who will lead the red-white troops. The Norwegian team will start with two strong finishers: Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff. Both riders can count on the strong legs of Vegard Breen.


Also Pim Ligthart will ride the elite men road race. The Dutch team consists of a combination of attackers and time trial specialists. Ligthart will probably join Lars Boom and Niki Terpstra in their mission to make the race hard to avoid a bunch sprint. However, someone who is interested in a bunch sprint is André Greipel. The German Mannschaft has brought some serious power to Richmond. Together with Greipel they have John Degenkolb and Tony Martin at the start. Greipel can also count on the qualities of Lotto Soudal rider Marcel Sieberg.


“John Degenkolb is our leader," Greipel said. "He is one of the favourites to conquer the rainbow jersey. My role depends on how the race develops, in which the weather can be decisive. In rainy conditions, the circuit will be dangerous because of its many corners. This means that the race will be harder, so there will be bigger gaps and less riders who can win the race.


"After I did a recon of the circuit, I am not sure if a bunch sprint is a possibility. It looks easier than it actually is. I think that a rider who is able to attack on the final climb can make it to the finish line. My form is still good, but it will be hard to survive."

In the French team, we see both sprinters and attackers on the start list. One of their riders is Tony Gallopin. Together with Julien Alaphilippe, he will probably choose to attack. If the race ends in a bunch sprint, the French can count on the fast legs of Bouhanni and Démare.


“I have already been on this side of the world for two weeks after I first did the Canadian WorldTour races and the team time trial afterwards, both times with a good team result," Gallopin said. "On Monday, all French riders came together and we worked towards this World Championship. We believe that we can win the world title, because we have different types of riders in the selection. This means that we can play our role in different scenarios. Alaphilippe and myself will race attentively in the final if there are big names who try to attack. And if there’s a bunch sprint, we have Bouhanni and Démare.


“Personally, I think that we shouldn’t be seen as favourites. The Germans, Norwegians an Belgians need to carry the weight of this race. Traditionally, we will have our pre-race tactics meeting on Saturday, but I am already sure that I will not wait on a bunch sprint. The legs are as good as last year in Ponferrada, but this year’s course is totally different. In Spain it was a very hard circuit, something for climbers and puncheurs, which suited me better. This year the course is not that hard, which is ideal for strong, fast riders. My prediction? Kristoff, Degenkolb or Matthews.”


Last but not least we have Tiesj Benoot who’s one of the Belgian riders. At just 21 years he is the youngest rider at the elite men's road race. He can rely on the more experienced riders like Boonen, Gilbert, Van Avermaet and Vanmarcke. If he can help these leaders in the final of the race, then his WC debut will be successful.


“In the previous days, we did some good training rides," Benoot said. "On Wednesday we did our last long training. Now it’s all about resting and recovering for the race on Sunday. The nice weather in Richmond makes the training rides really enjoyable. Yesterday we had a first look at the course. Today there is a motor pacing training and Saturday we will do an easy ride. The atmosphere in the Belgian team is very relaxed. I already knew a big part of the riders before this championship.


“Since July, everything was focussed on this week. After an altitude training camp in Livigno, I participated in some races. First, I raced in Plouay and afterwards I did the two races in Canada. In the GP Quebec I felt really good, but unfortunately I crashed and therefore couldn’t show my good legs. However, the form was still good and this resulted in a fifth place in the GP Montréal. After this race, I did an extra training of two and a half hours. I can’t tell what the tactics for Sunday are. But I had a good talk with Carlo Bomans (Belgian national coach) and I know what the team expects from me.”


As it is a tradition, it is to be expected that the Italians, Spaniards, Brits and Americans – on their homeground – will play a great role in the race. Beside these teams there are also dangerous Einzelgängers like Stybar (Czech Republic) and Peter Sagan (Slovakia).



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