The Swiss will not be one of the favorites in the road race at the World Championships in Wollongong (Aus) and faces the many favorites in the main draw. Therein lies her happiness.
In the night from Saturday to Sunday, the rainbow jersey of the world champion inevitably goes to a star in the south-east Australian seaside resort. The route (266.4 km) is long, very long, much longer than 99% of the modern World Tour calendar. As a bonus, the route is riddled with a big bump (Mount Keira) just after the start before Mount Pleasant has to be climbed 12 times (1.1km at 7.7% and one passage at 14%), a total descent of almost 4000 corresponds to meters.
This test could just as easily crown a very persistent runner, a sprinter who knows how to hold on when the road climbs, or a puncher who would make the difference in reps over bumps. So many of them start ambitiously, with such different and varied profiles as Tadej Pogacar (Sln), Wout Van Aert, Remco Evenepoel (Be), Mathieu van der Poel, Dylan van Baarle (PB), Alexander Kristoff (Nor) , Michael Matthews, Jai Hindley (Aus), Biniam Girmay (Ery), Sergio Higuita (Col) and Joao Almeida (Por). Finally, when certain athletes from the same country don’t run in a row for ego reasons.
But it is undoubtedly the French who have the most “the mark”, as they say. The Blues must defend Julian Alaphilippe’s doubles title and it’s not certain the Quick-Step rider, whose season was complicated and who crashed at the Vuelta, is the trump card. Coach Thomas Voeckler made an urgent call to Benoît Cosnefroy at the start of the week and his qualities match what is required on Sunday morning. France can also bluff and send up Valentin Madouas, Romain Bardet, Pavel Sivakov or Quentin Pacher to avoid having to bear the brunt of the race.
On the Swiss side, it is inevitably Stefan Küng who is most closely watched by the teams in silver and gold. But the Helvetii have other tricks up their sleeve to topple the expected hierarchy. With Silvan Dillier, Fabian Lienhard and Simon Pellaud, who can attack early or work at the back, and Stefan Bissegger, the always-roller, they have a lot to expect. Küng will inevitably be difficult to solve. But we mustn’t underestimate Mauro Schmid, whose punching power can be used when he goes the distance.
“At an event like this, only the medal counts,” assured the 22-year-old from Zurich from Australia. I’d rather attack and try my luck and get to the back instead of blaming myself for not being active enough. I expect a tough race and just a handful of riders up front when it comes to fighting for the title. I think this course corresponds to my qualities and my form is good.”
Robin Karel has been a journalist at the Sport-Center since 2018, after developing under the colors of 20 Minuten and the Sportinformation agency. He mainly follows football, cycling and snow freestyle.More information@RobinCarrel
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