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UCI Road World Championships 21st-29th September 2019 - Yorkshire - Race Thread.

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I noticed on Sunday that some teams got use of Pro team buses. Are these rented by NTs or loaned as gifts to keep favoued riders happy eg. Movi and Valverde or Ineos and Thomas.

Poor Conor Dunne had to change in a camper van with 5 other guys the poor lad looked like that Simpsons scene of the really tall guy in the tiny car or the famous clowns in a mini skit
 
Totally late in replying here...

I wonder what the riders would say about a route like Alpe d'Huez though: if they'd prefer the entire climb to be barried-off (were that practical) or would rather do the climb w/ crowd parting at last moment. Runners are the worst, though. I think riders should be free to slug any spectator who tries running alongside them - if the runner is so close as to be w/in arm's reach.
They shouldn't be free to do so. They should get points!
 
The World Championships change every year. They are, at least in the one-day format, designed with the express purpose of, at least in theory, crowning the best cyclist in the world. Now, obviously, a single race simply cannot do that. Not even a Grand Tour - look at the multitude of recent years where, actually, the best cyclist in the world could be argued to be somebody who specialised in a completely different discipline, such as Gilbert in 2011 and Sagan in 2015. As a result, they have to mix up the disciplines of the World Championships Road Race to look to cover all bases.

I have on many occasions used the argument that the World Championships Road Race is, in effect, a sixth monument, and those provide appropriate boundaries for difficulty in my opinion; every type of rider has a Monument that they can win, if they're good enough. If a sprinter is durable and gutsy enough, they can make it to the end of Milano-Sanremo. If a climber is versatile enough, they can make the difference in Lombardia. A pure power engine, suited to a TT, should be able to put the power down in Roubaix. A puncheur should be able to win Liège, but a stronger-climbing puncheur could win Lombardia, while a more power-based one can compete at Flanders too. A rider with the power for the short cobbled bergs should also be able to convert that to the Roubaix flat cobbles too.

As a result, I feel that a "sprinter's Worlds" should not be easier than San Remo, and a "climber's Worlds" should not be harder than the current iteration of Lombardia. As an example, we have had a lot of "sprinter's Worlds" in recent years; Geelong and Madrid offer what I would say are "good" sprinter's Worlds; Copenhagen and Zolder are the counterexample, of a bad course. Likewise, Innsbruck - and Duitama - represent about as extreme a level of climbing as there ought to be in a World Championships route.

The same, however, applies to the conditions in which those races take place. For the most part, the Classics don't take place at a time of year that necessitates unbearable heat - but the Worlds sometimes, not infrequently, do. Doha is a bit of an outlier, of course, but in recent memory we've had Portugal, Spain and Italy all host the race, plus if you add Olympic events in, we have Greece - in August - and Brazil. These were the worst conditions for a World Championships Road Race we've seen in years, but the Monuments frequently have to deal with terrible conditions, sometimes to extremes. Obviously the likes of Hinault's Liège in 1980 are complete outliers and, in all probability, not possible anymore, but Ciolek's victory in Milano-Sanremo in 2013 shows that extreme conditions are still a factor that needs to be taken into account. Gilbert's first Lombardia, in 2010, was just as horrendous, weather-wise, as the Harrogate Worlds, while the 2002 Paris-Roubaix edition produced some iconic photographs. Didn't we all rave about the sterrato in the 2010 Giro, with the mud-splattered World Champion riding to victory? The 2002 Angliru stage has passed into legend, when thunderstorms engulfed the central Asturian mountains and turned it into a figurative bloodbath and almost a literal bath. How about 2014 Val Martello and its associated controversy, or the snowstorms on Tre Cime that Nibali won in in 2013?

And just as some riders are advantaged by the course, others are advantaged by the conditions. It is well known that Froome prefers races when it is hot, and it is well known that Tim Wellens prefers races when it is miserable. Well, prefers is perhaps a strong word, but they suffer less in those conditions than others and that suits them. Riders like Ian Stannard, for example, get almost all their best results when the conditions are so miserable others don't want to contest the day.

Back in the Giro, we saw a stage neutralised at entry to the circuit, with then only those who WANTED to contest the stage obliged to race on at competitive pace, everybody else could roll in at their leisure. They did the same in 2009 in the Chiavenna stage. However, the reasoning behind that was that it was a stage race, and they therefore wanted to keep as many people in the race as they could. In a one-day race, there simply isn't that necessity. That's why a lot of the "unwritten rules" about when opponents crash, are sent the wrong way, puncture or suffer other misfortunes simply don't cause the same trouble in Classics as they do in stage races; no waiting when there's no tomorrow to wait for. In circuit races, you always see a high attrition rate; lots of riders who are no longer in contention to win will happily climb off and save their legs. If this was a stage race, a lot of those riders who climbed off would not have done so, regardless how cold they are.

Extreme heat such as that in Doha is, if anything, more of a problem. You can better prepare for being cold and wet - cyclocross is a thing - than you can for the risk of heatstroke. Stages like the hideous Tour of California stage that Acevedo won a few years ago when it was 45ºC or the women's TTT in Doha when Dygert exploded in a pool of vomit and Anouska Koster passed out on the bike from heat exhaustion - there's much less that can be done about that. The organisers already amended the course in Harrogate to take out the worst of the course, but re-designing the circuit or hosting on another day is simply not possible. And while the conditions out there were terrible, they were not unsafe (they could be safely negotiated, just perhaps less so at the kind of speed some riders wanted to go), so there was no reason to adopt any contingency plans beyond those they already did.
 
Really. Good. Point! Nobody went full Price-Pejtersen into the puddle they had to go through.
To be fair, he was a little unlucky that nobody was there to flag it. I ride time trials myself and one particular concrete road is patched in black. At my speeds (so much less than his) I can't always spot in time whether it's a patch or a hole, the latter to be avoided. Neverthelesss he could have been a bit more careful. I can't quite see "going full Price-Pejtersen" entering the language. Glad these road race guys didn't do one, all the same.
 
To be fair, he was a little unlucky that nobody was there to flag it. I ride time trials myself and one particular concrete road is patched in black. At my speeds (so much less than his) I can't always spot in time whether it's a patch or a hole, the latter to be avoided. Neverthelesss he could have been a bit more careful. I can't quite see "going full Price-Pejtersen" entering the language. Glad these road race guys didn't do one, all the same.
That just goes to show how it is. For the Men's Elite Road Race they had plenty of time to change the route, and send flaggers out to the tricky passages.
For the Men's U23 ITT they couldn't really do anything, because the conditions worsened while the race was on! They couldn't postpone the race, as that would mean literally stopping riders. (And just damned bad luck that one of the first (at least the first we saw) to hit that big puddle was a medal-contender, who was completely in the zone.)
And finally, for the Women's Elite ITT (on the same say as the Men's U23) they could postpone it in order to give organisers a change to get the worst amount of water off the route.
 
That just goes to show how it is. For the Men's Elite Road Race they had plenty of time to change the route, and send flaggers out to the tricky passages.
For the Men's U23 ITT they couldn't really do anything, because the conditions worsened while the race was on! They couldn't postpone the race, as that would mean literally stopping riders. (And just damned bad luck that one of the first (at least the first we saw) to hit that big puddle was a medal-contender, who was completely in the zone.)
And finally, for the Women's Elite ITT (on the same say as the Men's U23) they could postpone it in order to give organisers a change to get the worst amount of water off the route.
Yes, I agree.
 
I thought it was a good week's racing. The weather had an impact of course but it often does. The week before the weather was supposed to be fine. The men's race had extreme conditions of course and as is often the case in such conditions you get a surprise podium or an unexpected one.
 
I thought we established "she" is actually a whole group of journalists!
So, @Libertine Seguros, what have you got to say to your defence? :cool:
Are you serious? It would make sense, for how could one mere human possess THAT much cycling information, as well as have such a wonderful way with words. And this is why she/he (a he I think....women can be humorous, but the style of humour is male I reckon) goes under the name of a (multiple human) team?
 
So, the women are up today. In truth, I think it's hard to say anybody not wearing the orange of the Netherlands is a five star favourite, but the course does offer a few places where people can escape, and as we know, the Dutch team has managed to completely flunk opportunities like this in the past, such as Baku and Richmond, of course, though they've been a bit better at maximising their opportunities in these races more recently.

Their team is super-strong top-down and literally all eight riders could potentially win; obviously, however, they will settle on various roles during the race, and should be able to put somebody in pretty much every move. Marianne Vos is surely the favourite given the season she has had, but as we know from her reign of terror in the late 00s and early 10s, this often opens the door up for others when opposition riders don't want to pull Marianne along. Chantal Blaak's 2017 triumph was built in similar fashion, and she is similarly poised today, along with Amy Pieters, Floortje Mackaij, Lucinda Brand and World Championships débutante Demi Vollering, who on paper would likely be the engine room of the team, with Brand perhaps the best positioned of the quintet to take advantage of the péloton's reluctance to offer a free ride to van der Breggen, van Vleuten and Vos - though any of them are capable.

The first major opponent I would throw into the ring is Lizzie Deignan. As is well known, I am not a fan of hers, but these are her home roads, and clearly the British team has been set up specifically with Lizzie winning in mind, so there is no real potential for disunity of goals. She got her excuses in early in the Women's Tour before realising she didn't actually need them, but since that win she has lain low, focusing entirely on these World Championships, and we know that if she hits them with the kind of form she had earlier in the season, let alone the form she had for eighteen months in 2015-16 prior to the whole silent ban/Olympics issue which, regardless of the Clinic implications, was rather revelatory in terms of showing how the bunch perceives her and seemingly shook her confidence a bit, then she's a definite prospect for victory.

Team America also has a potential favourite in Coryn Rivera. The fact that a lot of the climbs on the circuit are short digs isn't ideal for her, but she arrives in very good form having won the last two stages of the Tour of Belgium, including the Geraardsbergen one, and stages like the Altenburg stage of Thüringen or Halden in the Tour of Norway, where she was the nearest thing to a competitor Vos had on a punchy-type finish, mean that with that slightly uphill dig to the line, she is a very good threat. The problem for the Americans is that they'll likely need to expend some energy on race controlling to get her there, and that would mean probably taking her to the line with Vos, which is a risky gambit given the season Vos has been having. The course is probably not hilly enough to make Hall a favourite, with her lack of sprint weapon and having needed longer climbs to come to the fore (as opposed to other non-sprinty climby types with a strong record in short punchy climbs, like Longo Borghini or Niewiadoma), but I've been wrong before plenty of times. Tayler Wiles is probably the Americans' best wildcard, although what Chloe Dygert-Owen can do on her TT form, Lord only knows - the issue will be that she doesn't have too much in the way of experience dealing with a pack of this strength.

Italy offer a number of interesting options, and I think from a team perspective will be the biggest challengers to the Dutch. Marta Bastianelli is the obvious leader, though her late-season form has struggled unsurprisingly to match her incredible run of results in the spring. Nevertheless, if she arrives in something approximating her Ronde van Vlaanderen form, the hilly riders are going to have to be insanely aggressive to get rid of her. However, if they are that aggressive and succeed, Italy have a very reasonable plan B in the form of Soraya Paladin, who just finished 2nd and 1st - with three stage wins - in the two Italian Worlds tune-up races. Soraya has a good sprint, especially on a short uphill dig, and has a truckload of strong placements on hilly courses during the year, including 7 of the 10 stages in the Giro in the top 10, the podium of Emakumeen Bira, the top 10 of La Course, and the podium on similar roads to this in the Tour of Yorkshire. However, with Balsamo and Paternoster also in the team - inexperienced riders but strong sprinters - it seems that the expectation is for Marta to be plan A, and so Paladin, Longo Borghini and Cecchini are liable to be subsumed to that goal, though I would hope they have the freedom to mark moves and try to disrupt the Dutch gameplans.

Australia are another 7-rider team, and they have what looks like a strong team on paper, but at the same time I'm not convinced they have any outcome where they would have the outright favourite - Spratt is a very good climber, world class indeed, but she is liable to be outkicked at the line by some of the others who would still be there with her in my expectations; Kennedy is a good climber, durable and a good gambler, but she's also liable to terrible luck and had that heartache of a finish in the Giro that she'll need to put from her mind; Tiffany Cromwell has had a quiet season by her standards, and Chloe Hosking is very quick and is pretty durable but I'm not sure I'd back her over the likes of Vos and Rivera, who I'd expect to hold on to the bunch at least as long as her, on this finish.

Germany, by contrast, have just 6 but have been inserted into the top dossard numbers, with Lisa Brennauer as the nominal leader. She went well in the Tour of Britain and won the GP Elsy Jacobs after WNT did a brilliant job of exposing the naïveté in race control of Parkhotel Valkenburg and Vollering, but you'd say that while Brennauer won the Madrid Challenge, it's more because of the TT, and that's been and gone. Her kid sister, Brennauer II, i.e. Lisa Klein (I often conflate the two riders as they are both Germans named Lisa, and have almost identical skillsets, strong TT engines with limited but decent durability and a very strong sprint at the end of a slightly hilly race, to the point of being competitive in outright bunch sprints from time to time) would seem a stronger possibility, arriving in very good form after winning the Boels Rentals Ladies Tour; the team does have an interesting wildcard in Liane Lippert, however; the 21-year-old just finished 5th in the Tour of Belgium, and was one of the strongest riders until a jour sans in the Women's Tour back in June, even threatening to win the race at one point, over the short sharp Burton Dassett climb where she finished 2nd behind Niewiadoma.

Speaking of the combative Pole, she will be the obvious leader of the Polish squadron, who are, largely thanks to her and to a lesser extent Małgorzata Jasińska, also a team of seven, and they will want the race to be as hard as possible, so expect to see the two lighting up the hills if they have the form, because neither can sprint and both require a very broken up race to medal. The good news is that both of them are not shy about trying to attack, so the Polish jerseys should at least be highly visible. The same goes, to a lesser extent, for the Spanish team - they don't really have an A-level leader like a Niewiadoma, but they also don't have anybody who is likely to win from a sizable bunch, and their strongest riders are climbers, so they will have to animate the race to burn off as many people as possible to have any opportunities. The course is almost certainly not tough enough to bring Santesteban or Merino into contention for the medals, but Mavi García did finish on the podium of the Tour of Yorkshire back in the spring.

The strongest of the teams of 5 will be Denmark, comfortably. They boast the 2016 World Champion in Amalie Dideriksen, and while she hasn't had the strongest of seasons, she hadn't in 2016 either - depending on how this race is run, however, she is likely to have to subsume her goals to those of your heroine and mine, the one, the only, the much-loved and rightly so, queen of the interview and romantic swashbuckling heroine of the péloton, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. We all know that everybody in their right mind wants to see Cille on the podium, because even if you don't like her (if there is anybody that doesn't like her, please can you identify yourselves now, so that you can be roundly mocked, shunned and made a pariah), Cille + medal will lead to Cille + microphone, and it is a universal truth of professional cycling that Cille + Microphone = Gold.

On other smaller teams there remain some other interesting names, and the most obvious, as ever, is Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. The South African grimpeuse has only three teammates with her, but she's one of the péloton's greatest climbers at the moment, and she has a very quick finish for a climber, so if the race becomes broken up and more selective than anticipated, she is definitely in the frame to take even the entirety of the spoils, though before we get too carried away it is worth noting that she's only won 3 races this year - the national championships road race, the All-Africa Games ITT and a Spanish one-day race which featured the San Miguel de Áralar climb, so isn't really reflective of this kind of course. However, she's spent much of the season setting up Marianne Vos on courses like this, so not only has she not had the chance to fight these fights for her own goals, but she also will know a bit more about Marianne's strengths (everything) and weaknesses (none) than most. Christine Majerus will also be of interest as this is the kind of terrain that she loves - too tough for the pure sprinters much of the time, not tough enough to truly be a climber's playground, and with her cyclocross origins, she is more adept at those short sharp bursts of acceleration on the little leg-breakers than most - her problem will be running out of helpers as Luxembourg only have three starters including herself. Similarly Arlenis Sierra only has one Cuban compatriot in the race, after finally finding some form in the last few weeks, winning the Giro della Toscana.

Belgium are without Jolien d'Hoore or Lotte Kopecky, so their de facto leader becomes Sofie de Vuyst, who has had a career season in fairness. However, she has a good head for this kind of race - she won Brabantse Pijl - and she arrives in good form. Do I think she'll podium? Probably not, but she has an outside shot at it with the team focusing on her. Norway are also an interesting team with Susanne Andersen liking this kind of terrain, and Stine Andersen Borgli on a career season that has seen her join the top rank from next year on. Katrine Aalerud is too much of a climber for this course, but that's a decently interesting team. Their Nordic neighbours, Sweden, would on paper be quite interesting, however Emilia Fahlin, who would otherwise have been a strong wildcard possibility on a course like this, missed a load of racing time mid-season after a severe concussion and went four months off the road, only returning recently, so won't be her usual self, while Hanna Nilsson, like Aalerud, probably is their best outside shot, and she needs a harder course and a tough race pace to burn off the rouleuses.

The similarity in profile to Bréton races may help the French, who have versatile and lovable Bréton road captain Audrey Cordon-Ragot to guide them, but while she's liable to be very visible due to her combative and gutsy baroudeuse riding style, her lack of a sprint weapon often hamstrings her when we get to the business end of the event. Juliette Labous is probably the most interesting member of the French team on paper, though Biannic can sprint and Evita Muzic went through a string of U23 classification wins earlier in the year too. Eugenia Bujak is leading the Slovene team now, rather than being a third bullet in Poland's gun, and that does mean that she won't get the same support as had she still raced for Poland, but simultaneously she won't see her goals subsumed to those of Kasia or Gosia; she did win the GP Plouay a couple of years ago so can't be underestimated, but the lack of team support and a quiet season will probably hold her back. Likewise Amialiusik, who won that Baku race when the Dutch committed tactical seppuku - however following a string of injuries she doesn't seem quite the rider she was four years ago and while she's still a strong hand, I can't say that she will really be considered a threat to win from the majority of compositions of any breakaway or attack group. Russia are unpredictable - on paper this course should suit Chursina and she's a very decent rider indeed, while Novolodskaya is a very strong young prospect, but they tend to get their results in middling fields rather than against the world's elite. Finally, Rasa Leleivyte is foraging alone and this is the kind of course that suits her - but foraging alone on this kind of course will be an absolute nightmare once racing is on because getting to and from the team car and getting back without there being any moves that you need to decide whether you should follow or not is a challenge, and so being there at the business end of proceedings will require not just the legs but a good deal of luck too - in the Olympics with the tiny péloton that's not so bad, but with 150+ riders in the Worlds, that's another question.
I don't know what was more impressive: Annemiek's 104 km solo victory, or this pre-race preview write-up!! Your Cille (or should that be Silly? :D ) paragraph especially = GOLD.
 
TBF the rain and wind brought a chill factor. Alaphillipe, Roglic and Chaves were just a few of the riders shown shivering after stopping, while LL Sanchez had to be helped off his bike.

The only rider who looked truly prepared for the conditions was Fuglsang, showed by his freshness at the end.
Well, some riders have the mindset for those conditions. Fuglsang and Pedersen, and in fact Quintana too, are amongst those who gets better compared to their competitors in such hard and difficult conditions.

Ofcourse it helps to remember energy intake constantly in such a hard race. But I mean, they're ment to be professionals....
 
Well, some riders have the mindset for those conditions. Fuglsang and Pedersen, and in fact Quintana too, are amongst those who gets better compared to their competitors in such hard and difficult conditions.

Ofcourse it helps to remember energy intake constantly in such a hard race. But I mean, they're ment to be professionals....
Who, of course, was also visibly shivering on the podium.
 

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