five things to know about the 2022 worlds road race


Courses, riders, weather and Australian magpies: five things to know about the men's road race at the 2022 Road Cycling Worlds on Sunday in Wollongong.

A demanding course

With a distance of 266.9 km and an elevation gain of 3,945 m, the course of the World Championships is of the demanding kind. "Harder than I expected," said French climber Romain Bardet. The plot unfolds in three parts. First a section of 27 kilometers in line, along the Australian coast. Then a 34 kilometer loop in the hinterland including the ascent of Mount Keira, not an easy task (8.7 km at 5%) but too far from the finish to make a real difference. Finally, a 17 km urban circuit that the runners will cover twelve times. They will therefore climb as many times what should be the justice of the peace for this edition: Mount Pleasant, short (1.1 km) but formidable with its 7.7% average and a peak of 14%.

Made for punchers

Such a route makes a massive arrival unlikely and seems to condemn pure sprinters who will find it difficult to digest the repetition of climbs. Since the main difficulty is very far from the line, it seems first cut for a profile of explosive runners: the punchers. It is logically among them that we find the main favourites, the double defending champion Julian Alaphilippe, even if he is coming back from injury, the Belgian Wout van Aert, the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, the Australian Michael Matthews or the 'Eritrean Biniam Girmay. To this must be added the double winner of the Tour, the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, and the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, fresh winner at the Vuelta, two ultra-complete riders whose climbing qualities can be used.

A rare triplet

The double title holder Julian Alaphilippe, aims for a rare hat-trick which has only been achieved once in the entire history of the Worlds since the first edition in 1927 in Germany: by the Slovak Peter Sagan between 2015 and 2017. In the table of medals by nation, France currently has 10 titles in the queen event, behind Italy (19) and Belgium (26, the last of which by Philippe Gilbert in 2012). Australia, at home, is betting on Michael Matthews to win its second title after that of Cadel Evans in 2008. Matthews had become world champion hopes in 2010 and it was in Australia.

Return of the sun

After four dull days of rain, the sun is expected to return in time for the men's race on Sunday. The weather forecast predicts a few clouds or even a light shower but it should be sunny overall, with a wind blowing between 15 and 20 km/h at midday. The start of the race is set at 10:15 a.m. (02:15 a.m. in France, 00:15 a.m. GMT) with an expected arrival around 4:50 p.m. (08:50 a.m. in France, 06:50 a.m. GMT).

Watch out for magpies

If the weather should spare the runners, another threat from the sky hovers above their heads: the flute cassican, more commonly known as the Australian magpie which, during this breeding season, can be particularly aggressive. The very serious phenomenon is well known to Australian cyclists, many of whom stick antennae on their helmets to escape the bird's nose-down descents. Several riders were attacked during their training outings such as Dutchman Bauke Mollema. There hasn't been any incident in the race yet, except for Mollema, again, who caught a bird on his helmet during the mixed relay on Wednesday. But it was a seagull.



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