Organisers of next year’s UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain, have published details of the courses to be used in both the time trials and the road race – with the latter looking every bit as tough as the one that figured at this year’s event in Tuscany.
After the Spanish pair of Joaquin Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde were beaten to the rainbow jersey in the rain in Florence this September by Rui Costa from neighbouring Portugal, home fans will be hoping their idols can go one better this time round.
Whether a Spaniard will win on home soil next time round in the men's elite race is open to question, but organisers have given the host nation every chance - unusually, there’s no long lead-in to a closing circuit; instead, it’s 14 laps of an 18.2 km loop.
Each lap features a pair of climbs that while not too taxing on their own – the maximum gradient is 11 per cent – will be once they’ve been negotiated 28 times in total.
The total height gain over the 254.8km race of 4,284 metres – coincidentally, that’s exactly four times the height gain of a single ascent of Alpe d’Huez, which is 1,071 metres.
Organisers say “it will not be easy for climbers to forge ahead of the rest of the riders” – suggesting it will be difficult for any one rider to make a decisive move and instead we imagine it will be an race of attrition, with attack and counter-attack resulting in a small group that will contest the closing stages containing the strongest riders on the day.
The elite women’s road race on the same circuit, where Marianne Vos of the Netherlands will be seeking a third successive victory, is seven laps for a total distance of 127.4 kilometres.
As for the time trials, both the men’s and women’s have sections of ascent and descent too. Organisers did toy with putting a tougher climb into the men’s version that they say would have led to riders switching from TT to road bikes.
Those plans were scrapped when, according to organisers, “the technical staff of the UCI dismissed this possibility for not quite matching the spirit of this particular discipline,” and there were also logistical difficulties in having an uphill finish.
Nonetheless, with the gradient hitting 10 per cent in the 47.1km elite men’s course and 7 per cent in the 29.5km elite women’s event, with the climbs coming late on in both cases, they’re tougher than the typical world championship time trial course.
Besides the elite road races and time trials, there will also be the men’s and women’s team time trials for trade outfits, as well as the under-23 and junior events that have become an established part of the championships since they switched to a week-long format in 2011.
The full programme is shown below and you can find out more information at the newly launched website for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships here.
UCI Road World Championships 2014 programme
Sunday 21 September
Elite women, Team Time Trial
Elite men, Team Time Trial
Monday 22 September
Junior men, Individual Time Trial
Under-23 men, Individual Time Trial
Tuesday 23 September
Junior women, Individual Time Trial
Elite women, Individual Time Trial
Wednesday 24 September
Elite men, Individual Time Trial
Friday 26 September
Junior women, Road Race
Under-23 men, Road Race
Saturday 27 September
Junior men, Road Race
Elite women, Road Race
Sunday 28 September
Elite men, Road Race
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.