A trip to the end of the world to become champion, that’s what awaits the women’s peloton, on Saturday September 24, in Wollongong, Australia. The runners will depart, at 4:25 am, French time, to conquer the rainbow jersey of the world champion of road races. The arrival, scheduled for around 9 in the morning, will crown the new patron saint of world cycling. A race to follow live on france.tv. Here are the keys.
A course for kickers
Cycling lovers, stay tuned: don’t hesitate to set your alarm clock on Saturday so you don’t miss the rhythm of this race. In addition to the fierce pedal battle, these World Championships in Australia promise to be spectacular, in every sense of the word. From Helensburgh, south of Sydney, the peloton will first follow the Australian coastline for 30km through sublime scenery before reaching Wollongong.
Next, the runners will rub shoulders with the slopes of Mount Keira, an 8.7 km climb at 5% average, in a subtropical forest. After a rapid descent, the six loops of the final circuit will begin, laid out on the streets of Wollongong. However, this loop will not be a walk. Beyond the very technical course, you will have to contend with Mount Ousley and especially Mount Pleasant (7.7% average over 1.1 km), a real rainbow launching pad.
After their recital in the women’s Tour de France (six stage victories out of eight, three distinctive jerseys, including the yellow one), the Dutch will once again be the scarecrows of the peloton. Of the seven selected starters, four -at least- can opt for the final victory. Winner of the Tour, and already crowned in 2019, Annemiek Van Vleuten would be expected, if her fall in the team time trial has not left too many traces, like Marianne Vos (titled in 2006, 2012 and 2013) and Demi Vollering. If she rides the bumps well, 2021 European champion Ellen van Dijk could also do well.
As is often the case in recent months, the main danger for the Dutch will come from the Italians. The current champion, the sprinter Elisa Balsamo will have to resist in high percentages, to aspire to defend her title. We will expect more Elisa Longo Borghini at this circuit. If she has the same fire in her legs as she did when she arrived in Epernay on stage 3 of this year’s Tour, Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig might as well adorn herself with a rainbow. We will also see the Spanish Mavi García, and the Polish Katarzyna Niewiadoma.
What chances for the Blues?
Deprived of their road captain Audrey Cordon-Ragot, forced to retire after a stroke, the French team presents itself with a natural leader: Juliette Labous. Fourth on the Tour, the 23-year-old Franco Comtoise, an excellent climber, may lack a bit of mountain to make a difference. He will share leadership with Evita Muzic (8th in the Tour). With the experienced Aude Biannic as road captain, the explosive Gladys Verhuslt and the promising Marie Le Net, the French team will have the cards to assume their status as outsiders. And why not catch the favorites.
Watch out for the attacks… of the magpies!
On Australian roads, riders will have to watch out for an opponent far more dangerous than Annemiek Van Vleuten: river cassicans, a local species of magpie. At this time of year, called “fall season” (diving season), these Australian magpies are particularly aggressive.
— National Geographic Wild FR (@NatGeoWildFr) April 7, 2017
In addition to protecting their nest, they regularly prey on fast-moving living things. All this can make you smile, but a new cycling version of birds Hitchcock’s cannot be excluded. We are still talking about birds of about forty centimeters.
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