It is time for one of the most technical parcours of the season.
We got 270 km and the climbing meters I’m unsure off. I got everything from 2400m (SanLuca) to 3400 (Veloviewer).
I’ve counted but could be wrong, I see 47 corners. What first springs to mind is this: It seems easier being away in a group than in a peloton. You can’t really organize a chase.
And in 2D for good measure. It wouldn’t be Worlds if it didn’t get a little extra.
The first of three kickers I think matters, Great George St. Climb.
Second climb is Scott St. Climb.
Third one is the one closest to the line. The Montreose St. Climb.
I don’t really trust the weather forecast too much three days in advance. As of right now, it looks to be a 50/50. Yet, mostly showers.
How will the race unfold?
Let’s start with some honesty here. It is a race made for those who are technically gifted on the bike. The roads should be in good condition now they’ve been fixed. But not all of the circuit is on tarmac, some is on stones and cobbles. Some in a park, where wet leaves lay as ice. Did I forget to mention the 44 corners in 14.4 km? It is for the technically gifted. The closest we’ve seen to a circuit like this was the UEC European Championships Men Elite 2018 in Glasgow, this time it is just even more technical.
Now, what type of race does the Belgians want? Without radios, things seem to be more random. Surely Evenepoel will attack. Seeing his recent sprint against Bilbao in Klasikoa San Sebastian, I do not think many will want to go up against him. He has the diesel to stay away but I do not think he is technically good enough – and where will he make the difference to get away? Then we have Wout van Aert. He gets so much hate for being a fantastic cyclist. With a CX background and his recent performance in the Tour de France, we know he is good enough to challenge for it. And the rest of the team? Such a strong force who could easily play their numbers.
The question is where and how. Where is unknown, but Great George St. Climb, Scott St. Climb and Montreose St. Climb are key points. All of the climbs are short and just after a turn. They are small sprints uphill. Almost like intervals. And these are also the only double-digits climbs.
Crashes and splits can happen anywhere on a route like this. I could ramble on about the next team and what they want but honestly, it is just the best bike riders in the worlds that ends up fighting for the win. It will be a very demanding course, where you want to attack early. You want to be a puncheur who can handle 270 km and as a bonus being technically gifted.
Evenepoel – does he start as the favorite? He has won Liege – Bastogne – Liege twice in a row and now sits on three wins in Klasikoa San Sebastian. He also won Worlds last year. It is fair to say, he knows his way around a one-day race. He has improved his sprint massively, beating Bilbao the other day in that manner was a bit scary to see. The only thing I see as a problem for him, is the chance of rain. Not that he is poor in it, but the circuit becomes very difficult if wet and I do not see him as a skilled bike handler.
Wout van Aert – the man who can’t catch a break. Once again, he rode a fantastic Tour de France, leaving it after stage to be with his family. I think the legs are where they need to be. Looking at this season of there has been a few near-hits. Ronde van Vlaanderen 4th, Paris-Roubaix 3rd (mechanical), and Milano-Sanremo 3rd. He has not landed a very big win this year. This course is made for a CX rider. Someone who can keep powering away despite 47 corners to break your rhythm. I think Wout van Aert is that type of rider.
Laporte – He has seen another good season at Jumbo-Visma. It is very odd to see his race calender this year, he only did one-day races up until Dauphiné. He and Wout did have some fun this spring against the second-tier cobbled riders. I see him as a good bike-handler, mostly because I was saw him brake his bike with his foot on the back wheel plus he is a skilled sprinter and lead-out rider. He knows where to sit in the peloton, he has a kick and a sprint.
Alaphilippe – a bit of a joker as always these days. Close but no cigar Tour de France. Seven breakaways joined and his best result was 10th on stage 10. There is something happening here but what it is ain’t exactly clear. He has been off more or less the entire season but the same can be said for his season in 2020 where he dropped everyone in Imola. I dare not write him off, he is a born championship rider. One issue could be the weather for him, I think he hopes it stays dry.
Pedersen – It is insane to see when riders go from having a few good days on a bike every year to having them in shape for the whole season. I’m not sure if he finished the Tour on a high note, I assume he did. He usually just gets better the more he races. Therefore, the “Tour-legs” should be something that applies to him too. He has been good this season, very good and he usually goes well on long distances. He will be hoping it rains.
Asgreen – I have decided to include him given his recent results in the Tour de France. Seeing him win after a tough battle against injuries was fantastic. Seeing him become second the day after, storming in to the team bus means one thing. He is back and he is racing to win. Asgreen has not had a good season this year or in 2022. It seems to be turning around now. Few ended the Tour de France with better legs than he.
Pogacar – late addition. It is difficult not to admire him. He is truely something else. First, my concern. He did not look very comfortable going downhill in the Tour de France. Will that be a problem in Glasgow? I doubt it. We’ve seen he can dominate these type of races. 270 km is not an problem for him and neither are the short climbs. But are they too short? He and Evenepoel are the two riders I’m looking forward to seeing most. Where do they attack when there is no Oude Kwaremont or Côte de la Redoute? Despite Pogacar getting a beating in the Tour de France, I think he finished the Tour de France well.
Mathieu van der Poel – A CX rider. Nothing really worked for him in the Tour de France. His shape is either off the charts or he is a domestique in terms of level. I think it was clear the Tour de France was preparation for Worlds. He has been dominating them this year if the length was above 270 km. The team is one of the strongest, I would have them in the same tier as Denmark just under Belgium. Van Baarle is his most important teammate and co-leader. What I love for MvdP is the technicality of this race. Especially if it rains.
Trentin – a proper championship racer who won the EC in 2018 using many of the same roads. 4rd recently in Circuita de Gexto is a good result. Rumors have been flying around Twitter, saying teammates help each other across teams. Does that mean he helps Pogacar? I doubt it. Trentin is leaving UAE.
Healy – fantastic season from him. 45th in Donostia San Sebastian was not the result you hoped to see ahead of Worlds but his spring season makes sure he is on my list. 2nd in Amstel and 4th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I think a top-10 is possible.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Mathieu van der Poel
⭐⭐⭐ Pogacar, Wout van Aert
⭐⭐ Evenepoel, Laporte, Pedersen
⭐ Asgreen, Alaphilippe, Healy, Trentin
Who will win?
I think the circuit, the weather and the length suit Mathieu van der Poel.