2014 UCI Road World Championship Route Preview
With the last Grand Tour of the year now out of the way, we are about a week and a half away from the 2014 UCI Road World Championship which takes place on September 28 in Ponferrada, Spain.
|Route details for this years World Championship in Spain.|
The course is a 18.2km circuit beginning and ending in Ponferrada which the riders will complete 14 laps of for a total of 254.8km. Each lap consists of two climbs which 306m of ascent on each lap. By the end of the 14 laps, riders will have climbed a total of 4284m. The profile for the race resembles that of the Ardennes Classics which means a wide variety of rider types will be able to compete for the Rainbow Jersey.
The climbs on the circuit are not overly difficult heading out of the city towards the reservoir with the maximum grade faced by riders being 11%. The lack of difficulty is made up for by the accumulated total of climbing which might be enough to take the pure sprinters out of contention. Sprinters like Andre Griepel, John Degenkolb, and Nacer Bouhanni may find it difficult to stay in contact with the peloton which will force the German and French teams to look for a plan b.
|Kristoff beat the likes of Cavendish and Cancellara to win the first Monument of the season.|
The peloton will have to be wary of sprinters like Michael Matthews and Alexander Kristoff who have shown themselves to be better climbers than the average sprinter. Australia’s Matthews is consistently an favorite on uphill finishes and took a big win in this years Giro while wearing Pink as he summitted a climb in a select group with countryman Cadel Evans. Kristoff showed his ability in snatching a win at Milan-San Remo. Matthews and Kristoff might just have what it takes to contest the final sprint and through a wrench into the plans of some of the bigger countries.
The climbs might be too much for the sprinters but they do not look to be enough for the climbers. The short, gentle climbs will make it hard for them to break the peloton apart and if they do succeed in causing a selection the long descent and flat leading into the finish will allow a large group to come back together in order to contest the sprint. Vuelta champion Alberto Contador has already withdrawn despite being selected for the Spanish team, saying that the course does not suite his style.
|This years World Championship does not look like one that suites the likes of Froome and Rodriguez.|
The course in Ponferrada looks best suited for a rider who can stay within striking distance of the climbers and has a strong finishing kick to win a group sprint. It should be a year for the rouleurs once again, the men with the big engines who are punchy climbers with good finishing kicks. The list of favourites for this event should lead similar to one for the Ardennes Classic.
Simon Gerrans looks to be in great form with two wins in Canada and is one of the best at sniping wins in a bunch sprint from a select group. Having both Gerrans and Matthews in the race gives Australia two options in going for the win. Alejandro Valverde is also a good choice for the win. He will be motivated by the home crowd and hopes for redemption following last year’s fiasco in Florence.
|Gilbert and Boonen lead a strong Belgian team looking to win their 27th world title.|
One should also not forget about perennial contenders and former world champions Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert who lead a strong Belgian team that looks suited for this sort of course. Defending champion Rui Costa should not be over looked. And a good wildcard pick would be Peter Sagan who has the ability to win a race like this but does he have the experience needed which he clearly lacked in the Spring Classics.
With only a week and a half left until the big race in Ponferrada we should soon get a good picture of who to watch this year at Worlds as team rosters are finalized. Keep watching this space for a preview of some of the racers I think have a good chance of winning as well as some previews of the other events that make up the World Championship including the Team Time Trial, the Individual Time Trial, and the Women’s Road Race.