World Road Championships: Stellar cast including Van Aert, Van Vleuten, Vos, Pogacar and Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe won the men’s road race in 2020 and 2021
Venue: Wollongong, Australia Appointment: September 18-25
Cover: Live coverage on Red Button, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app, plus highlights on BBC Two

The 2022 Road Cycling World Championships will take place September 18-25 in Wollongong, Australia.

More than 1,000 runners compete in 11 men’s and women’s races in the elite, under 23 and junior categories.

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe has won the last two men’s road race titles while Italy’s Elisa Balsamo is the defending women’s road race champion.

Italian Filippo Ganna and Dutch Ellen van Dijk won the time trial titles in 2021.

World track champion Ethan Hayter in the lead The 26-man British squad and will chase another rainbow jersey in the road race and time trial.

Hayter, who won world omnium gold last October, also won the Tour of Poland in August and will be joined by Fred Wright, who has impressed at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana this year, while Pfeiffer Georgi and Anna Henderson headline the women’s squad.

Van Aert, Pogacar and Alaphilippe lead the cast

With Tour de France green jersey winner Wout van Aert and current Vuelta champion Remco Evenepoel in their squad, Belgium start as favorites to win their first elite men’s road race since Philippe Gilbert’s victory in 2012.

Single-day wins earlier in the season at the Bretagne Classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Saxo Bank Classic, along with his strong Tour performance make Van Aert the man to beat on a course that looks fit to punchers.

However, two-time Slovenian Tour champion Tadej Pogacar will also be craving his chances after beating Van Aert at the recent Montreal GP.

The ascent of Mount Keira and the multiple loops of Mount Pleasant, as well as its grueling descent, are unlikely to deter Pogacar, who hopes that nearly 4,000 meters of climbing will work in his favor if a bunch sprint develops at the end of the exhausting 266.9 km course.

Mathieu van der Poel is the headliner of a strong Dutch side which also includes Bauke Mollema and this season’s Paris-Roubaix winner Dylan van Baarle.

France’s hopes will likely rest with Christophe Laporte although Alaphilippe cannot be entirely ruled out despite an injury disrupted season which saw him miss the Tour.

The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider suffered two broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade and a collapsed lung in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege before a fall in the Vuelta saw him give up to question his participation in Australia.

Biniam Girmay will look to continue his success at Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Italy with a podium finish for Eritrea, while Giro champion Jai Hindley and Michael Matthews will be looking to impress on home soil.

Will the Dutch dominate the women’s road race?

Annemiek van Vleuten
Annemiek van Vleuten has won the Women’s Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta this season

The Dutch start the women’s elite road race as big favorites after winning four straight until Balsamo finished her race in Leuven 12 months ago.

While almost any of their eight riders could be touted as a true contender, Annemiek van Vleuten, is the standout name with the 164.3km course and 2,433m drop seemingly to his advantage.

The 39-year-old won the title in 2019 after winning the time trial in successive years and has already recorded a superb hat-trick with victories at the Tour de France Women, Giro d’Italia Donne and Ceratizit Challenge by The Vuelta this season.

Highly-decorated former Olympic champion and three-time winner Marianne Vos could stand out in a reduced sprint while her Dutch teammate Demi Vollering is also a major challenger after finishing second to Van Vleuten in the Women’s Tour de France.

Grace Brown is considered Australia’s leading prospect on the roads near where she grew up. The host nation has won three silver medals over the past decade but has never won this event in its 64-year history.

The Italians, led by the current champion Balsamo, Elisa Longo Borghini and Silvia Persico should be there with the Danish Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, the Belgian Lotte Kopecky, the Polish Katarzyna Niewiadoma and the Spaniard Mavi Garcia.

The race against time

On a double opening day, the women’s and men’s elite time trial kicks off the World Road Championships.

Women and men will tackle the exact same 34.2km urban course which consists of two 17km laps around Wollongong, south of Sydney.

Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser will be hoping to have the edge over Dutch specialist Ellen Van Dijk after beating her to gold in Munich at the European Championships in August.

However, Brown and current Olympic champion Van Vleuten, who is also due to compete in the mixed time trial, could have a say in the final outcome.

Two-time defending champion Ganna will be the rider to watch in the men’s elite race and the Italian will also be far from disappointed that Van Aert has decided to focus solely on road racing this time around.

Swiss duo Stefan Bissegger and Stefan Kung will be aiming to repeat their first and second place finishes ahead of Ganna at the European Championships last month, particularly with Australian Rohan Dennis not competing.

Meanwhile, Pogacar and Belgian Yves Lampaert could also enter contention with Briton Hayter should he fully recover from his Covid-19-related withdrawal from Vuelta.

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