UCI Road World Championships – preview: elite road race

Peter Sagan bids for historic third consecutive win, while Dutch bid to continue successful Bergen 2017

Peter Sagan bids for a history-making third consecutive win in the UCI Road World Championships elite men’s road race on Sunday (September 24).

No man has ever won three consecutive world road race titles, and with a reduced bunch sprint expected in Bergen on Sunday, with a finishing circuit not too dissimilar to the closing kilometres of Milan-San Remo, it could play into Sagan’s hands.

Peter Sagan could become the first man to win three consecutive world road race titles (Pic: Alex Whitehead/

Can anybody stop him? We’ve taken a look at the men’s contenders below, but first the elite women will be in action on Saturday (September 23), with the Netherlands looking for more success following Annemiek van Vleuten’s time trial win.

With Tom Dumoulin taking the men’s time trial title, the Netherlands will bid for a third rainbow jersey with one of the strongest teams in the women’s race.

Women’s Road Race – preview

Anna van der Breggen has been slated as leader of the Dutch team for the road race, after second place in the time trial, but she is one of many cards the Netherlands can play.

Van der Breggen won the Giro Femminile and all three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege – this season, and topped the overall Women’s WorldTour standings as a result.

Anna van der Breggen is one of several options for the super-strong Dutch team (Pic: Sirotti)

Compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten was second in those standings, and won the women’s time trial to continue a stunning season which has also brought victories at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour and La Course, alongside two stage wins and third overall at the Giro Femminile.

Marianne Vos, meanwhile, is a three-time former world champion and was crowned European champion in August in a comeback season which has brought nine victories in all.

Any of those three Dutchwomen, backed by a strong squad which also includes Ellen van Dijk and Chantaal Blaak, could win on Saturday.

Among those challenging the Dutch will be defending champion Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark), who proved her sprinting capabilities with victory in Qatar last season.

Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), who was second behind Boels-Dolmans team-mate Van der Breggen at all three Ardennes Classics and won the Women’s Tour de Yorkshire and GP Plouay, would also normally be a contender, but is racing just weeks after having her appendix removed.

Lizzie Deignan would have been a contender, but is now an outsider after having her appendix out just weeks ago (Pic: Alex Whitehead/

Veteran Italian sprinter Giorgia Bronzini, meanwhile, co-leads the Italian team after finishing second behind Vos at the European Championships – the 34-year-old is bidding for a third world title.

Bronzini will be joined by national champion Elisa Longo Borghini in the Italian team, and the latter is a more-than-able ‘plan B’.

American Coryn Rivera won the RideLondon Classique and was second at the Madrid Challenge just a fortnight ago, while the winner of that race, Jolien d’Hoore (Belgium), is another serious contender, having bagged 12 wins in all this year and signed a contract to join Orica-Scott next season.

RCUK prediction: 1) Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands); 2) Jolien d’Hoore (Belgium); 3) Coryn Rivera (USA)

Men’s Road Race – preview

Defending champion Peter Sagan (Slovakia) could make history with victory in Sunday’s elite men’s road race, but the 27-year-old has had to shake off illness in Bergen.

Sagan geared up for the Worlds, where he will bid to become the first man to win three consecutive road race titles, with two stage wins at the BinckBank Tour last month, and then GP de Quebec success two weeks ago.

But having dropped out of the team time trial through illness, it remains to be seen whether he can be challenged on the rolling course.

Peter Sagan was ill and missed the team time trial, but is otherwise in top form (Pic: Sirotti)

The course was put together with input from Norway’s former world champion Thor Hushovd, so it is little surprise to find one which suits Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff down to the ground.

The former rode well in the time trial, having arrived in Norway on the back of a stage win and second place overall at the Tour of Britain. The latter, meanwhile won RideLondon and the European title in the summer.

Boasson Hagen could be a contender in either a bunch sprint or with a late escape, but he and European champion Kristoff will need to work well together.

Given the profile of the course, it is little surprise to see Michael Matthews (Australia) and Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (Belgium) also among the contenders.

Michael Matthews was in top form as he claimed the Tour de France’s green jersey (Pic: Sirotti)

Matthews won two stages of the Tour de France and the points classification, was third at RideLondon and at the GP de Quebec and helped Team Sunweb win the team time trial on the opening day of the worlds.

Van Avermaet, who was in stunning form during the Spring Classics, geared up for the race with second-place at the GP de Quebec.

The European road race came down to a reduced bunch sprint, and on that occasion Elia Viviani (Italy) was second, and the QuickStep Floors-bound sprinter is also in contention after bagging five wins in the last month.

Viviani’s Italian team-mate Matteo Trentin is also on form, after winning four stages of the Vuelta a Espana and then the Primus Classic, but will face a strong sprinting line-up in Bergen – that simply wasn’t the case at La Vuelta.

With the possibility of a late escape also coming into the occasion, Milan-San Remo winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) will also be one to watch – he has already claimed he would be confident of beating Sagan, a la MSR, if it came to a small sprint.

Michal Kwiatkowski won Milan-San Remo, and the 2014 champion is a contender for world road race success again (Pic: Sirotti)

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, who was third behind Sagan and Kwiatkowski at Milan-San Remo, is also an outsider.

Another likely favourite, Germany’s John Degenkolb, has had to drop out, however, after failing to shake off bronchitis.

If it comes down to a bunch sprint, Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) will be another to watch – the 23-year-old Colombian has won twice already this month, once at the Tour of Britain and then at the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.

Great Britain’s 2011 winner Mark Cavendish, who has missed most of this season with either illness or injury, will not race, however, leaving the likes of Ben Swift to fly the British flag in his place.

RCUK prediction: 1) Peter Sagan (Slovakia); 2) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway); 3) Michael Matthews (Australia)


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