World Championships 2023: Men's Road Race (August 6)

It's not that time of year yet, but it is that time of year again anyway. For the first time ever, the sport's best flock to Scotland for the world's most epic battle concerning the right to wear a piece of clothing. So put on your kilts, get out your bagpipes... actually, please don't, you'll make a fool of yourself.


Map and profile


Interactive map

The route
119.8 kilometres separate Edinburgh from Glasgow by the (not especially direct) route that has been chosen, and hence it's not a surprise that only the men's elite race starts from the country's capital. Perhaps fittingly for a race that (at least nominally) elects the best rider in the world, the peloton rolls out from the space in between the Scottish Parliament Building and Holyrood Palace, the Scottish royal seat (originally for its own monarchs, but relegated to a secondary function since the Union of the Crowns). From there, the riders make their way up the Royal Mile, perhaps the only part of the route that will be less crowded with tourists during the race than outside of it, although stopping short of reaching Edinburgh Castle due to the road dead-ending there. The route then heads north, trading the medieval Old Town for the 18th/19th-century New Town, before entering the newer parts of the city, where the official start is located.


Upon exiting the city, the riders use the Queensferry Crossing, the westernmost and newest of the three parallel bridges across the Firth of Forth, to enter Fife.


Fife is a flat region by Scottish standards, and the chosen route stays close to the shoreline, making for an easy start to the day. The riders cross back across the Forth estuary at Kincardine, before passing by the Falkirk Wheel. This is the only rotating boat lift in the world, and it's spectacular.


Just after this, the going becomes a lot less leisurely as the riders head into the Campsie Fells. These hills contain two climbs: the first, up the Carron Valley, is a longish drag...


...the second one, Crow Road, contains some pretty decent slopes. Another Mount Keira is unlikely, but with this generation...


The descent of the latter brings the riders to the outskirts of the Glasgow conurbation, making for a short route onto the final circuit, of which 10.5 laps are done. A trade city by origin that became the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution in Scotland, Glasgow is the Rotterdam to Edinburgh's Amsterdam, the Bilbao to Edinburgh's San Sebastian. However, the lap avoids the harbours, industrial areas (both present and redeveloped) and working-class neighbourhoods that characterise much of the city. instead opting for the city centre, Kelvingrove Park, and the university campuses.


However, it would be unfair to think of the choice of route as a purely political one, because the focus on this older, hillier part of the city makes for a highly technical circuit littered with admittedly short, but often steep climbs. It truly is a route like no other. The closest comparison would of course be the European Championships circuit used in 2018 (and before that for the Commonwealth Games), but in addition to the distance, the undulation has been significantly amped up compared to that route. The most significant addition is surely Scott Street, the steepest hill in Glasgow, which joins the more familiar Montrose Street as one of the two hardest hills on the parcours.


To add to the fun, Sunday is supposed to be the rainiest day of the World Championships. Whoever will be ending the day pulling on that rainbow jersey will have truly earned it.
Thanks for the writeup, some of the streets bring back memories as we would get off the train nearby when going to Parkhead when we were younger.

In terms of massive outsiders I'll go with;

Simone Velasco 300/1 - Was insanely strong in Liege so has a big engine, won a long/decentish Italian NC where he nailed Trentin and some others in the sprint, remember him throwing his hands up like some major injustice had been done. (Has nobody signed this guy it says he's out of contract!?). In good form.

Jhonatan Narvaez - 200/1 - Absolutely clowned on some fools winning 3 stages and GC in Austria the other week so he must be in alright shape, won that one hilly stage in the Giro where it was pissing it down all day, think NTT drilled it the entire for Pozzo and he did nothing, Riis probably went mad. Worked mostly as an Ineos dom in Belgian classics but has some decent results.

Gee - 400/1, probably not but it would be the most amusing possible result now Lopez isn't racing anymore.
I want Pog or Evenepoel to win with Almeida as the dark horse. I think the groups are going to sort out with Evenepoel, Pog, and MVDP in front of WVA, Philipsen and others. If it’s raining Pog will win, otherwise Evenepoel or MVDP to pull away from their trio.
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In the previous two decades a reduced bunch sprint would have been likely on a course like this, with Sagan or Freire as the probable winner. However the current generation has a much more aggressive riding style, so the big names will make it selective.

The local lap has a lot of technical bends and no long climb. This isn't ideal for Evenepoel, but with his current shape and the strong team around him he'd have a chance on any course. For Van Aert it can be an advantage or a disadvantage to share the leadership with two others. The Belgian who gets away first might take it.

Van der Poel didn't win a Tour stage, but the course suits him and he knows how to peak towards a big goal. Pogacar has the disadvantage of a weak team and the lack of a longer climb, but you can't rule him out. Denmark has a strong team with several cards to play. France has a decent team, but no big individual favorite. Then there are at least ten outsiders who could win on a course like this, especially in a tactical final where the favorites start watching each other.

*****Evenepoel, Van der Poel
****Van Aert, Pedersen
***Philipsen, Pogacar
**Asgreen, Laporte, Küng
*Alaphilippe, Madouas, Van Baarle, Healy

So it's very likely that the winner will have a p in his name.
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****Netherlands, Denmark
***Slovenia, Italy
**USA, Switzerland, Norway, France, Eritrea
*Ireland, Germany, UK, Poland, Spain, Australia, Ecuador
½ *Colombia, Austria, Kazakhstan, Canada, Portugal

I'd most like to see a Van der Poel win. From the less likely, Girmay would be awesome. I'm kinda liking the young Americans these days so Powless or Jorgenson would be neat but even less likely. It would also be fun to see someone like a Campenaerts or Kung upset the favorites. You never know, if the weather turns out the way it's looking it could be a chaotic race with a surprise winner.
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With so many curves and the rain, I just can't see Evenepoel performing his best, as I believe Evenepoel has an advantage if he can use his power to keep pushing on longer, up-and-down, not-overly-technical sections, and what I see here are very short technical sections (lots of curves).
The parcours and weather scream MvdP / WvA in my opinion, or any other rider that copes well with the rain, positioning and curves. So I'm inclined to a sprinter / hard men like Pedersen, Pogacar, maybe Philipsen but for sure WvA and, as the big favourite if in shape, MvdP.
Belgium with the strongest team that will probably ride like UAE without Pog... In theory they complement each other, in practice its FFA (especially since WVA and philipsen already declared they won't ride against teammates).

The only thing on this parcour that has Remco name on it is the length and circuits, yet he seems to be one of the main favorites?

I'll give the edge to explosive and technical riderson this parcour.

***** MVDP, WVA
**** Pog, Laporte, Pedersen, Philipsen
*** Asgreen, Remco, Van Baarle
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Some notes on the course from my own riding experience:

Everything before the Crow is easy. The Carron Valley road is a beautiful sweeping ride with a great, fast descent that starts just where the Loup of Fintry Waterfall is. I would have preferred them to get into the valley coming over the Tak ma Doon Road, which is a far harder climb than the road from Denny. I personally think that's a huge miss in the route design.

The Crow road is an easy climb in good conditions, with the steeper parts being well sheltered, but the top is a wind tunnel which can have it's own weather system. Plenty of times I've ridden the Carron Valley in summer clothing and then been desperately reaching for a jacket up the top of the Crow, a couple of times because it was snowing. There's also a nasty false flat you hit just as you meet the worst of the wind. I very much doubt it'll do much in the mens race, but given the technical nature of the circuit, if a larger break goes in the womens or u23 race, there's a chance they could stay away.

The circuit itself looks much better than the previous two iterations. The addition of Scott Street is going to cause some talk due to the steepness of the initial ramp. I've not been out to see how it's going to be barriered yet (probably can't until Saturday) but the entrance is very wide and it narrows up. If you're looking on Google Street view, you want the pictures either side of the entrance with the cycle lane present. The actual ramp is steep but short and I think the bigest effect it's going to have is stringing out the bunch as they enter the series of right angle turns that make up the city centre portion of the circuit. I don't think there's enough there for anyone to spring an attack from a reduced bunch, but I do expect it to thin out the peloton.

Montrose Street is the last ramp before the finish line and leads back to George Square this time, rather than out to Glasgow Green. The distance from the top to the finish is shorter, the descent is shorter than High Street and the course has 4 right angle turns that are fairly wide but might be enough to allow someone to hold a small gap they make on Montrose. The finish straight is long enough for a better sprinter to chase a leader down, but it'll be close.

The changes to the Gibson Street part of the circuit are interesting too. After climbing great George street, on previous circuits, riders descended Gibson Street and carried on down Eldon, to Woodlands and turned at woodlands gate. This time they'll turn into Kelvingrove at the beginning of Eldon. I'm assuming they're removing the traffic lights etc., but even with that done it'll be a very tight turn under hard breaking before the climb up to Lord Roberts. This may tempt some riders to have a go on Great George to try get a gap. Park Circus and Lynedoch down to Woodlands and along Sauchiehall (pronounced sockie-hall) to Scott Street might be technical enough to hold a gap before that city centre maze.

The other changes in both the city centre and the West End add to the technical nature of the circuit and take in some nice views of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Snow Bridge etc. They'll also make University avenue a tiny harder as I expect the entrance speed will be a bit less (might be wrong there, but I think the turn off sunlight way will slow them down in the rain). Overall I think it's a great circuit that provides loads of opportunity for riders to make the race interesting. I'm hoping to ride the closed circuit very early on Sunday morning (if I can get on), so I'll post up if there's anything obvious worth mentioning.

For what it's worth, I've regularly climbed all of the hills involved, including the Crow, on a fairly big fixed gear. Clearly not at WC speeds but with lots of miles in my legs beforehand and much less chance to carry speed into the city centre ones. There's nothing especially difficult about any of them individually. The repetition is going to hurt but it'll be on the riders to decide how much.
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