Just one week after the finish of the Vuelta a Espana, Spain will play host the 2014 UCI Road World Championships in the city of Ponferrada. The world championships is a yearly event in which various men’s and women’s road cycling disciplines are contested – and the winner is awarded the coveted ‘rainbow jersey’. The winner is then permitted to wear the rainbow jersey during races of the same discipline until the next year’s world championship is won. Winning the rainbow jersey is a highly sought-after affair, with numerous riders in the Junior, Under-23 and Elite categories spending many months preparing to be in top form for this race. Unlike the rest of the road cycling season, the world championships are contested by riders representing their country, rather than their trade team.
The teams for the world championships are selected on a country by country basis, with the national cycling federations selecting those who they want to represent their country. The number of riders a team is permitted to enter is based upon the individual results of the riders throughout the 2014 season. This is the reason why some teams such Australia will have 9 riders in the Elite Men’s Road Race, while New Zealand will have 3.
Men’s Elite Road race
Bringing the week to a close is the Men’s Elite Road Race which is for many, the main event. This race can be considered somewhat of a marathon when it comes to cycling, with the finish line coming after 254.8km of racing. The course is tough, due to both its length, and the frequent climbing required.
The Australian national team has a number of cards to play… Current national champion Simon Gerrans is in top form, and likely to be one of Australia’s team leaders and a race favourite. Gerrans will race alongside former world champion Cadel Evans, who is also well suited to the course. Both Michael Matthews and Simon Clarke will play a crucial role in in the Australian team’s tactics, while also having the chance of contesting the finish should the race unfold into their hands.
Vuelta winner Alberto Contador (Spain) has opted out of the world championships, saying the course is not tough enough - whereas his rival Christopher Froome (UK) will contest the race. The course is best suited to a rider who has proven themselves in long races, and can sprint on short sharp climbs. This plays into the hands of Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara and the reigning champion Rui Costa (Portugal).
Men’s Under-23 Road Race
The Men’s Under-23 Road Race is always an impressive race to watch, as it showcases the stars of the future as they develop into professional riders. 20 year old Australian Caleb Ewan will tackle the course with winning on his mind. The young gun has proven himself time and time again, dominating the Under-23 circuit for the past few years. The course is well suited to him, as he can get over the climbs with the best and is almost unbeatable in a sprint. This is his final chance at Under-23 glory, as after the championships he begins a contract with Orica-Greenedge – making him ineligible for Under-23 racing.
Men’s Individual Time Trial
In the 47.1km individual time trial, young gun Rohan Dennis will be the only rider flying the flag for Australia. Last year’s winner Tony Martin (Germany) is expected to duel it out for the win with four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland).
Women’s Elite Road race
The Women’s Elite Road Race has been dominated in the past by superstar Marianne Vos, and in 2014 she is again considered the hot favourite. Top climber Tiffany Cromwell will lead the Australian squad after a very successful 2014, including a 4th place at the Commonwealth Games.
Women’s Elite Individual Time Trial
Despite Marianne Vos’ domination of road racing, she is yet to win a world championship in the race against the clock. Katrin Garfoot will be the only Australian racing the time trial, with Linda Villumsen of New Zealand coming in as the rider to beat.
Men’s Elite Team Time Trial
Unlike the rest of the races at the world championships, the team time trial is contested by the professional world tour teams, rather than national teams. Orica-Greenedge will be looking to take the win and better their Bronze in 2012 and Silver in 2013. Their main rival will be Omega Pharma-Quick Step who took the gold medal two years in a row and have the power of individual time trial world champion Tony Martin on their side.
UCI World Champs Timetable
Sunday, September 21st 2014
Women’s Team Time Trial
Men’s Team Time Trial
Monday, September 22nd 2014
Women’s Junior Individual Time Trial
Men’s Under 23 Individual Time Trial
Tuesday, September 23rd 2014
Men’s Junior Individual Time Trial
Women’s Elite Individual Time Trial
Wednesday, September 24th 2014
Men’s Elite Individual Time Trial
Thursday, September 25th 2014
Friday, September 26th 2014
Women’s Junior Road Race
Men’s Under 23 Road Race 182km
Saturday, September 27th 2014
Men’s Junior Road Race
Women’s Elite Road Race
Sunday, September 28th 2014
Men’s Elite Road Race