Peter Sagan will look to become the first man to win three straight cycling road world championships when the 2017 edition is held in Bergen, Norway over a distance of 267.5 kilometres. Join The Roar for live coverage from 9:15pm (AEST).
After winning in Virginia two years ago and Doha on a flat course last year, Sagan will have another opportunity to wear the rainbow stripes in 2018.
The course couldn’t be suited more to the Slovakian, who comes into the race with less teammates than the big nations, despite wearing the No.1 card.
Starting out in Rong, the riders will spend the first 39.5 kilometres of the race rolling down the scenic coast of Norway. Water views will be on offer, but there will be a big fight for the breakaway with some lumps and bumps making life difficult, in what is sure to be a fast start to proceedings.
Once those first 40 or so kilometres are off the clock, the riders hit the circuit around Bergen where they will spend the rest of the day.
The first 17.9 kilometres is a nearly full lap, but they enter the circuit just after the finish line. Once they get back to the finish line, there will be 11 laps of the 19.1-kilometre circuit.
It’s the first half of the circuit that will challenge the riders. The first two climbs are nothing more than blips on the radar, but do them 12 times and it will burn.
The big part of the day is Salmon Hill. It’s about 10 kilometres from the finish line and is 1.5 kilometres at an average of 6.4 per cent, with a peak of over 10 per cent early on.
If the non-sprinters – think Michal Kwiatkowski, Philippe Gilbert, Diego Ulissi, Tony Gallopin and Daniel Martin – are going to get away, they must drop the sprinters – led by Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet and Michael Matthews – on Salmon Hill in the final two laps.
Otherwise we will come to the finish line with a sizeable group for a bunch sprint over the final 2.5 kilometres, all of which are almost pancake-flat.
It’s difficult to go past Sagan, but his illness that forced him to pull out of the team time trial makes you question it. Matthews and Greg Van Avermaet appear to be his closest rival unless the race splits up.
Van Avermaet has had a superb season though, and on the back of a winning ride at the 2016 Rio Olympics, I’m backing the Belgium to become the world champion.
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