If the World Championship Time Trials from the men and women taught us anything about cycling, it is to expect a very chaotic road race from the “Men’s Elite.” 

The riders travel 166.2 miles from Helensburgh to Wollongong, Australia. The course starts with a 38-mile jaunt (including a climb up a mountain) before the riders encounter more than 128 miles of a repetitive circuit. 

Who does this benefit? The one thing about these Australian courses is that there is a lot of unknown. Climbers should have a bit of a chance, but there is lots of time on each lap for even the sprinters to get their legs back. 

Let’s look at this road race and some possible winners and contenders among the picks. First, however, what did we learn from the time trial? 

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The Usefulness Of The Time Trial

As we mentioned, the UCI World Championship Time Trial for the men produced unexpected results. Tobias Foss of Norway was on the fringe as a Top 10 contender with the men. However, he pulled off one heck of a ride, winning the Gold by 2.95 seconds over the weekend. Foss beat the likes of Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogacar.

That was no easy task either, as honestly, both Evenepol and Pogacar were in pretty solid form, considering Pogacar had just won a big road race in Montreal. Evenepoel won the signature time trial at La Vuelta en route to his first Grand Tour triumph. 

Now, one interesting wrinkle was Ethan Hayter from Great Britain. Hayter had the unfortunate situation of a “mechanical” during his race. His flat tire seemed to take forever for him to acquire a new bike. Still, the British rider finished just 39 seconds from the top spot. Likely, Hayter would have been the Gold medal winner without that problem. 

The fact that Foss was not listed in some circles among the contenders was a bit surprising. However, the Olympics and World Championship can often produce shocking results.

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World Championship Road Race Quick Look

Again, the profile here is a bit of a different animal. These races take what feels like a quarter of a day. We are not far off. Julian Alaphilippe of France won last year’s championship in a time of 5:56:34. Alaphilippe won by 32 seconds over Dylan Van Baarle. 

The 2021 race in Flanders was a bit different, with cobbles and climbs. There are no cobblestones in Australia, thankfully.

However, the road race features a 4.7-mile ascent up Mount Keira. The overall incline is 5.7%, but a few areas kick up into the double digits. These digs are typically short (some about a 10th of a mile), but room for attacks to set up a breakaway is possible.

Mount Pleasant, by contrast, in the final circuit, is a shorter climb of a little over a mile. There is even a bit of a dip in the middle. However, the last portion has a 14% kicker and a 16.8% one. Time exists for some riders to get back, but each lap will feature some sort of separation. The elite cyclists who can climb and sprint still have an advantage here.

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World Championship Road Race Odds

Rider Projected Odds
Wout van Aert +330
Matthieu Van Der Poel +350
Tadej Pogacar +450
Remco Evenepoel +450
Julian Alaphilippe +1000
Biniam Girmay +1600
Michael Matthews +1800

This is a long race. Think of it as a very long stage from a grand tour with a little bit of everything. The 18.77-mile circuit gets repeated 11 times in all. That does not make it the most straightforward event to watch sometimes. That being said, one can stream the event on Flobikes in North America. However, watch on YouTube as the time trial was live-streamed. 

The key is that inevitably there are longer shots to always look at. Michael Woods is the home-country choice that does tend to do well at the Worlds.  Ethan Hayter and Dylan Van Baarle (both at +6500) are also worth a look. Hayter probably looks to be in better form and has trained more often on this course.

Furthermore, this is the culmination of a very long season. On any given day, a rider can get away or surprise in an unexpected sprint to the line. 

The World Championship Men’s Elite Road Race begins at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 24 and will end early Sunday morning.

World Championship Predictions

The books love Wout Van Aert. Maybe too much. There is a case to be made that Van Aert should have tried his hand at the time trial. Is he in the form everyone expects to be? 

If the racer does not do well at the Worlds, there will be a lot of questions. Van Aert is the very slight favorite, but honestly, there are about 10-15 riders who could easily win. The idea is to take a shot at a rider like Evenepoel at +450.

After that, longer shots like Michael Woods at +1800 and Hayter mentioned above at +6500. For a long one, Lawson Craddock at a whopping +20000 is even worth a gander. As we said, this one takes a while, so grab a seat, check in often, and enjoy the final laps with us.

Get ready for the unexpected, and follow us on Twitter for live updates. 

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