The World Championships elite Road Race is arguably the most highly anticipated one-day race in the women’s World Tour calendar, and in the first of a new ‘Super Worlds’ format, it takes place just over a month earlier than its usual position on the calendar, in Glasgow on Sunday 13th August. The women’s elite race will also crown an U23 World Champion, for the first rider across the line within that age group.
With just two weeks to recover from the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, many riders will be find themselves in peak form, while others will have timed their form to peak in Glasgow, but either way, the riders who take to the start line in Loch Lomond will represent the very best in the world, and over 30 nations.
Reigning champion Annemiek van Vleuten will ride the championships for the final time of asking, in her year of retirement, and for the nation who are arguably the ones to beat. They will have strong competition though, from the likes of Belgium, Italy and Australia.
Beginning in Loch Lomond, the route is 154.1km long, with a total of 2229m of altitude gain along the way.
Setting off from Loch Lomond, the first couple of kilometres of the race head uphill, and could see early pressure as teams try to establish a pecking order and some of the less well represented nations may attempt to escape from the bunch.
There is one major obstacle in the first half of the route – the ascent of the Crow Road. At 5.6km in length and with an average gradient of 4.8%, the climb begins and ends with a relatively shallow gradient, but it’s the central section that will likely cause splits in the bunch, with pitches of up to 19.4% in places.
However, the summit is reached just 33.1km into the race, meaning that there’s ample opportunity for any dropped riders to make it back on, though the energy sapped from their legs on the climb may catch up with them later.
From there, it’s mainly flat terrain as they head south to Glasgow, where they will take on six laps of a Glasgow city circuit. The circuit is rolling in nature, with short punchy climbs and numerous turns. The most severe of the climbs is Montrose Street. It’s just 200m in length but with an average gradient of 6.5% and a maximum of 9.1%, it will prove to be a good launchpad for any rider looking to spring an attack, particularly given its proximity to the finish line – just 1.3km stands between the top of Montrose Street and the finish line in George Square, which will see the 2023 World Champion crowned.
Riders to Watch
While all the talk at this year’s Grand Tours has centred around the rivalry between two great champions, the World Championships turns everything on its head as trade team loyalties switch to national team duties. The Dutch team have always been the ones to watch at Worlds, with incredible strength in depth, and with the outgoing World Champion and retired Van Vleuten, alongside the best rider in the world this year and winner of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift Demi Vollering, rivals become teammates as they try to bring the rainbow bands home to the Netherlands for the second consecutive year. And that’s not to mention former World Champion Marianne Vos, who will find herself at home on a punchy course with many technical turns.
Where the Dutch have options, the Belgians will be very much united behind one rider: Lotte Kopecky is the best classics rider in the world this year and as such, may go into the race the slight favourite, given the nature of the course. She rode an outstanding race at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, proving her capabilities lie beyond just punchy races with fast finishes, and on the Tourmalet she proved that the climbing shouldn’t prove to be too much of a barrier for her attempt at the title. To win it though, she must beat her friend and teammate Vollering, alongside a great many other talented riders.
Italy are probably third strongest in terms of their squad, and their hopes for victory. With veteran Elisa Longo Borghini crashing out of the Giro Donne and withdrawing from the Tour de France Femmes there are questions surrounding her form, and though the team have Elisa Balsamo, should the race come down to a sprint (which seems unlikely), perhaps their best chance of all is through Silvia Persico. Persico performs well on big occasions and has the punchy characteristics that make her perfectly suited to this course.
France lead with the in-form Juliette Labous, and Germany will look to Liane Lippert to deliver her usual brand of aggressive, attacking racing, that saw her storm to a Tour de France Femmes stage victory just two weeks ago. The USA have the multi-disciplinarian and rapidly improving Chloe Dygert, and Australia have strength in depth, with a number of options including Grace Brown and Amanda Spratt. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (south Africa) is in the form of her life and will enjoy the repeated climbs, and for Great Britain, Lizzie Deignan will hope to find good legs, either for herself or for the likes of Claire Steels or Anna Henderson.
Riders to watch (GC)
5-stars Demi Vollering, Lotte Kopecky
4-stars Silvia Persico, Liane Lippert
3-stars Annemiek van Vleuten
2-stars Elisa Longo Borghini
1-star Juliette Labous
When – Sunday 13th August
Where – Scotland, UK
What – One day race
‘Watch the Femmes’ TV Coverage: Eurosport, GCN, BBC
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