After nearly a week of crowning world champions, the elite women will once again take the stage for the 2022 World Championships Road Race this Saturday in Wollongong, Australia. The junior women will race first thing in the morning before the elite women began just after midday. For the first time, the U23 women’s title will also be chosen from elite women’s race, picking the top U23 finisher at the finish before the 2022 women’s World Championships comes to a close.
The elite women will commence in Helensburgh for the 164.3km course before crowning the new world champion. As they depart, the peloton will race down along the scenic coast, bordering the Royal National Park just north of Wollongong. The fans lining the finish will catch a glimpse of the race as they pass through their first time before heading around the 34.2km Mount Keira Loop.
The course is both challenging and technical, and could very well suit a one-day classics rider like Kopecky, or a strong sprinter that is able to make it over the only climb of the day up Mount Keira to stay within contention for the finish. Situated over 120km from the finish, if a rider is dropped on the climb, there is potential to make up the time lost before the city circuits.
After the Mt. Keira Loop, the peloton will steam roll back down to enter the first city circuit. The circuit is punchy where the women will race up both Mount Ousley and Mount Pleasant six times. The latter is just over a km climb averaging at 7.7% gradient, just enough to burn the legs before sprinting for the finish. Fans will be eager to see who will crest the final climb before celebrating the conclusion of the 2022 women’s elite World Championships.
Riders To Watch
After a grueling time trial that saw a record third title awarded to Ellen van Dijk, and a team time trial race on Wednesday, time will tell who will have the legs to contend for the rainbow jersey on Saturday. After missing the time trial title by a mere 12 seconds, Grace Brown will have fire in her legs ahead of another chance to earn the rainbow jersey in front of the home crowd. Australia is one of several stacked teams that has both Brodie Chapman and Amanda Spratt to support Brown, along with the Netherlands, Belgium favoring Lotte Kopecky, and Italy boasting Elisa Longo Borghini, 2007 World Champion Marta Bastianelli, and defending Champion Elisa Balsamo.
The Netherlands faced a host of problems that only got worse in Wednesday’s mixed relay. One of their stars, the multi-time World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten crashed heavily soon after starting the relay, fracturing her elbow. The team had yet to announce whether she would be able to start on Saturday at our time of publish. With such a stacked team that includes Demi Vollering and Marianne Vos, besides van Dijk, the Dutch have plenty of other cards to play.
It is hard to say whether the course will favor a Classics rider or a sprinter. Organizers compared the finish of the course to the Cadel Evans Ocean Road Race, one that is rarely won by a climber. Still, the route is punchy enough that may blow up team tactics, leaving those with enough energy left in their legs to fight for the finish.
Other riders to watch that may upset the heavy favorites include Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig who won the Tour of Scandinavia last month, and was a top 5 finisher at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta just a week ago. Poland’s Katia Niewiadoma has proven time and time again that she has the legs and the race intuition to finish strong should her team drop ahead of the final circuit. She was third at both the Tour de France Femmes and the Women’s Tour this summer, finishing top ten also at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.
Follow our coverage from the 2022 World Road Championships here on voxwomen.com.
When: Saturday, September 24, 2022, 12:35 local time
Where: Wollongong, Australia
What: Elite Women’s Road Race World Championships
Grace Brown (Australia) *****
Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) *****
Marianne Vos (Netherlands) ****
Katia Niewiadoma (Poland) ***
Cecilie Ludwig (Denmark) **
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by Rebecca Reza