September 21, 2013 (Firenze, Italy) – Eight days of almost non-stop racing, starting this Sunday, will decide exactly who gets to wear the coveted rainbow jerseys of UCI Road World Champions in a wide range of different categories, from Junior right the way up to Women’s and Men’s Elite racers.
The stunningly , which get underway this Sunday, September 22 at 10 am with the Women’s Team Time Trial and conclude a week later, on Sunday September 29, with the Elite Men’s Road Race.
No less than 12 different UCI Road World Championships events will be held during this time, all starting in different cities throughout the Toscana region, but each finishing in its capital, Firenze.
By and large, the first block of racing, the time trials running from Sunday September 22 to Wednesday September 25, all take place on largely flat, technically uncomplicated courses. These straightforward but testing routes should permit the specialists in each category – Women’s and Men’s Team Time Trial, Junior Men and Junior Women, U-23 Men, Elite Women and Elite Men – to open up important margins.
Women’s team Specialized – Iululemon will be defending their title in the UCI Road World Championships first event, the Team Time Trial on Sunday September 22nd with Orica-AIS and Rabo Women Cycling Team expected to be amongst the challengers. In the Men’s equivalent course, marginally more difficult with a short climb early on, the three squads on the 2012 podium, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, BMC Racing Team and Orica-GreenEdge, will once again be amongst those squads expected to make the running – start lists below.
The battle for victory in the Elite Women and Elite Men’s Time Trial is also expected to be exceptionally fierce. Defending champion Tony Marti (Germany), and former multiple World Champion Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) are amongst the top contenders in the men’s category, with Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain), Taylor Phinney (USA) and Marco Pinotti (Italy) also aiming high.
The womens’ equivalent event, with defending champion Judith Arndt (Germany) no longer racing, looks set to be equally enthralling. Evelyn Stevens (USA) and Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) took podium spots behind Arndt in 2012 and are likely to impact, alongside Emma Pooley (UK). Along with Arndt, these three riders have taken the top three podium positions every year since 2010, while Villumsen has taken bronze or silver every year since 2009. Could Italy be where Villumsen strikes gold at last?
While the UCI Road World Championships time trial courses are mainly flat, the road race routes for the five different categories, though, are a very different story. Starting on Friday September 27 with the Junior Women and culminating on Sunday September 29 with the Elite Men, all are based around a 16.6-kilometre hilly course in Firenze’s city centre, and each feature two important climbs.
The first, the Fiesole, is 4.5 kilometres long, and broad and sweeping, with no particularly difficult sections and an average gradient of ‘just’ 5.2 percent. After a fast descent from the FIesole’s summit on the Piazza Mino square, the second climb of the circuit on the Via Salviati is only 600 metres long, but it contains a much sharper, shorter 16 percent ramp, that is close to the finish. Whilst the 10 ascents of the Fiesole should relentlessly whittle down the pack, the final climb could act as the perfect blast-off point, then, for many a breakaway.
Taken as a whole, the Firenze course is so hilly it offers very few opportunities for a full recovery between each ascent and, at the same time, provides lots of chances for riders to open up a gap: all in all, the racing in the 2013 UCI Road World Championships will be very hard for any of the teams with top favourites to control.
In the Elite Women’s Road Race, those looking to shine on the 140.05-kilometre course include Evelyn Stevens (USA), Emma Johansson(Sweden) and Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), who took the World’s title in 2011 and 2010.
However, Marianne Vos (Holland), who finally broke her run of five silver medals in this category last year with a memorable solo attack to clinch her second World’s gold on home soil in Valkenburg, could well once again have the mantel of top pre-race favourite. On the World’s Road Race podium every year since 2006, that is perhaps only to be expected!
As for the Men’s Road-Race, defending champion Philippe Gilbert(Belgium), who scored a memorable victory a stage of the Vuelta a España, could well be in the running again. But Alejandro Valverde (Spain), Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Cadel Evans (Australia) and Rigoberto Urán (Colombia) are all widely expected to play a key role, too.
Can we expect some surprising results and performances, too, though? Past history would seem to confirm this. After, all with such a huge variety of riders, backgrounds and nationalities, though, the UCI Road World Championships has a well-deserved reputation of producing excitingly unpredictable, wide open racing, year after year. Toscana 2013 will surely be no exception.
2013 Road Worlds Schedule
Sep 22 – Elite Women’s team time trial – Pistoia to Firenze – 42.79km
Sep 22 – Elite Men’s team time trial – Montecatini Terme to Firenze – 56.8km
Sep 23 – Junior Women’s time trial - Firenze – 15.49km
Sep 23 – U23 Men’s time trial – Pistoia - Firenze – 42.79km
Sep 24 – Junior Men’s time trial - Firenze – 25.34km
Sep 24 – Elite Women’s time trial - Firenze – 25.34km
Sep 25 – Elite Men’s time trial – Montecatini Terme to Firenze – 56.8km
Sep 27 – Junior Women’s road race - Firenze – 82.85km
Sep 27 – U23 Men’s road race – Montecatini Terme to Firenze – 172.79km
Sep 28 – Junior Men’s road race - Montecatini Terme to Firenze – 139.65km
Sep 28 – Elite Women’s road race - Montecatini Terme to Firenze – 139.65km
Sep 29 – Elite Men’s road race – Lucca – Florence – 272.26km