World champions's verdict is it's going to be a very tough race, with two hard climbs on closing loop...

Road world champion Marianne Vos has been undertaking a recce of the closing loop in Florence where she hopes to defend her title this September. The 25-year-old Dutch rider, widely regarded as the best road cyclist in the world – male or female – was accompanied by members of her Rabo Woman Cycling Team.

Prior to riding that final 16 kilometre loop of the world road race circuit, which the women will tackle five times on Saturday 28 September after already completing 51.7 kilometres from the start in Montecatini Terme, Vos and her team mates also rode the 38-kilometre team time trial course from Pistoia to Mandela Forum in Florence, where all events will finish.

"The final circuit of Fiesole is quite challenging,” said Vos, who expects it to be a very tough road race. “The first part, the Fiesole climb is linear and can be covered with ease, while especially the sprint of Via Salviati presents steep slopes, that I think will make the difference.

“All in all on the whole final circuit there aren't many areas of recovery and it will be important to succeed in rationing out the energies in the best way, in order to remain alert during the most crucial moment," added Vos.

Rabo Woman Cycling Team Sports Director Koos Moerenhout agreed with his team’s star rider about the difficulty of the course, saying: "It's the toughest road race of recent years and will select a lot.

“The team time trial is also very fascinating even though free of danger from the point of view of the elevation. There are long straights that will allow the athletes to express their maximum capacity."

Besides being reigning world road champion, last September taking the title for the second time on home roads in the Netherlands, Vos is also current Olympic road and world cyclo-cross champion. She has also previously won world and Olympic titles on the track.

There is a full gallery of the recce by Vos and her colleagues on the Toscana 2013 website.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.