Freeman Cebu Sports

World Championships this week

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

Time is relative. When you’re doing nothing, it moves so slow and if you’re in the thick of things, everything is a blur.

This week seems like yesterday when the World Cycling Championships commenced in Austria. In the Elite Mens Road Race, the ageless Spaniard Alejandro Valverde finally won the rainbow jersey at age 39 after racing as a professional since 2002. It was also last year that the real talent of the U23 winner, Belgian Remco Evanepoel, shone through.

Fast forward this year in Yorkshire, England and the Valverde and Evanepoel, are part of the ten or so favorite to win the rainbow jersey. Last year, you may have heard and seem a young kid with cycling DNA all over him in Mathieu van der Poel as the Dutch national Champion and a the WC in Cyclocross. This year, this kid is one of the favorites!

The race route is 280km long and should be raced between 6-7 hours. The course is not flat but lumpy and there is nary a flat stretch along the route. And this favors the classic one day riders. However, this is not the route for the stage racers.

So who are the favorites? Here are my favorites, but not in any order: van der Poel, Velverde, Evanepoel, Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Julian Alaphilippe, (France), Michael Matthews (Australia), Belgians Greg Van Avermaet, and Philippe Gilbert. I know that Alexey Lutsenko and Matteo Trentin are also favorites but I don’t think they have the firepower to win at this big stage.

Of the list, the most in-form are Van der Poel, Gilbert, Lutsenko. The next tier would include Matthews, Valverde, Van Avermaet, Evanepoel. The next tier would include Sagan, Valverde, and Trentin. If after 280km, this race ends in a small bunch sprint, I would bet my money on Van der Poel, Sagan, Van Avermaet and Matthews, respectively. If this ends in a solo breakaway, I would go for Alaphilippe, Gilbert, Trentin or Lutssenko. The number one favorite is of course Van de Poel and the least likely to win its Trentin. Unfortunately for the Italians, who used to be the biggest players in the Worlds, they haven’t won it since 2008.

If you’re wondering why the stage racers like Egan Bernal or Primoz Roglic or Ricardo Carapaz (winners of the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana, giro d’Italia, respectively) are not in my list, well, the racing is different and the efforts put forth are different.

In a stage race, you can choose and select the time and place to attack. In fact, in a three day race, you can only count the number of minutes the trio had been on the attack. In a one day race, its different. It’s like a tennis match. Win or go home.

There is no time for hiding, and if you have a “sans un jour”, or a bad day, your Worlds are over and you’ll have to wait 12 months to do it all over again.

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