It really doesn’t seem like two minutes since we were writing about the (then) forthcoming 2010 World Championships in Australia, let me take you on a journey back…. Cadel Evans was the reigning World Champ (or ‘big dog’ as it shall henceforth be known), Alberto Contador had won the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong had raced in his last and Leopard Trek were but a scarved rumour.
But never mind this spurious, self-indulgent waltz through the past, Thor Hushovd is the current Big Dog (or World Champion if you prefer) and Cadel Evans has won the Tour de France. This year the Worlds come back to the Northern hemisphere and go to the Scandinavian flatlands of Copenhagen, Denmark. Between the 19th and 25th September riders from all round the world, riding for their home countries, will descend on Copenhagen in both Road and Time Trial events.
The 2011 Course
It’s a flat one this year, with just 105m of climbing per lap (this translates in to only 1700m of climbing over the entire 266km of the mens elite race) the course can only really be described as phenomenally flat. This should play in to the hands of the teams with sprinters, who will be trying to control the race to set up a bunch finish. Those without strong sprinters will try and disrupt this, expect to see plenty of breakaway attempts.
The Race Timetable:
- Monday (19th September): Junior Womens TT, 13.9km (AM) & Under 23 Mens TT, 35.2km (PM).
- Tuesday (20th): Junior Mens TT, 27.8km (AM) & Elite Womens TT, 27.8km (PM).
- Wednesday (21st): Mens Elite TT, 46.4km (PM).
- Thursday (22nd): Rest day!
- Friday (23rd): Junior Women Road Race, 70km (AM) & Under 23 Mens Road Race, 168km (PM).
- Saturday (24th): Junior Men Road, 126km (AM) & Elite Women Road, 140km (PM).
- Sunday (25th): Mens Elite Road, 266km.
Team GB are going to the Worlds with one of the strongest teams for some time this year. It’s been a fantastic year for British cycling, Sky have started to fulfill their considerable potential bringing riders like Ben Swift, Alex Dowsett, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins to the front of the peloton, David Millar and Daniel Lloyd (Garmin-Cervelo) have both been on great form and we’ve not even got to the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish who is super motivated and going well after a steady start to the season.
It’s a course well suited to Cavendish; Swift, Thomas and Millar are all proven lead out men who can dish out the watts when it matters to get him to the front. But, if the race doesn’t go Cavendish’s way, Team GB have a plethora of riders in great form who can attack or get in an escape. We would say this, but the GB team are genuinely in with a phenomenal chance and should be watched very closely.
Cadel Evans victory in the Tour de France was long overdue, the former Big Dog (World Champion…) will not be taking part this year, but they are taking a strong team of proven winners including Matt Goss, Stuart O’Grady, Matt Hayman, Heinrich Haussler and Chris Sutton. The big surprise was the exclusion of Mark Renshaw, there remains a question mark over the politics of this and whether it has anything to do with Renshaw not joining Greenedge, but regardless the squads strength hints at the possibility of a second Australian World Champion in three years. With no pure sprinter like Cav, expect the Aussies to take to the front early and try to control the race.
Thor Hushovd has worn the rainbow colours for a year, but we imagine he’d be well up for wearing them again. Although the squad is only four strong, Hushovd has been in imperious form (when he found it) with two stunning TdF stage victories and an easy stage win in the Tour of Britain. Hushovd is supported by the enormously talented Edvald Boasson Hagen; two TdF stage victories, National TT champion and victory in the Eneco Tour all in 2011 demonstrates his potential. Although there are only four of them, these Norwegians are hard as nails.
The US are lacking the firepower of previous years. Only able to fill 8 of the 9 spots available, they’re relying on an injured Tyler Farrar to carry their hopes in what is more than likely to be a sprinters course. A crash in the Vuelta injured his elbow, leg and back forcing him to abandon the race and no doubt severely impacting his preparation.
With Tom Boonen out with a broken hand, expect Philippe Gilbert to be the number one with the simple goal of attack and win. Although lacking the sharp kicks of last years course which suit the Belgium hardman, Gilbert can never be underestimated and he’s backed up by the likes of Johan Van Summeren, Nick Nuyens and Jurgen Van den Broeck. Even if he isn’t on form, there’s a few riders there worth watching.
Others to watch:
Sadly we haven’t got time to look at all the teams, but there are a few key riders to watch out for. Oscar Freire, who won in 2004, has the back-up of an experienced Spanish team, but they lack the big gun sprinters to compete in a bunch finish. Italy are brining sprinter Bennati to the table, supported by a youthful team expect to see them in contention. However it remains to be seen if Bennati can really compete head to head with the likes of Cavendish or Gilbert.