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Innsbruck 2018 UCI road world championships preview

Plenty of climbing on tap September 23-30 in Austria

Sunday marks the start of a week of competition at the Innsbruck 2018 UCI Road World Championships, the first time Austria has hosted since Salzburg 2006 when Paolo Bettini and Marianne Vos earned rainbow jerseys in the road races.

Innsbruck promises plenty of climbing. The road races all contain at least one lap of the Olympia Circuit containing a 2.6-km climb to Gnadenwald that has a maximum gradient of 14 percent. The men’s race is made even harder by the addition of a long lap that has an ascent reaching a knee-busting 25 percent. All the individual time trials are lumpy.

Anticipation is high. Let’s take a look at the schedule, in addition to which Canadians are in which races and who was on last year’s podiums.

Sunday, September 23:
This is the last world championships in which trade teams will vie for a team time trial title. There is a considerable climb in the men’s race, while the women’s runs gradually downhill. Svein Tuft will race his final Worlds in Mitchelton-Scott’s line up and Hugo Houle is likely for Astana’s gang. Last year’s medalists Leah Kirchmann and Karol-Ann Canuel are back for their squads.
Women’s team time trial (54-km)
2017: 1) Sunweb including Canada’s Leah Kirchmann 2) Boels-Dolmans including Canada’s Karol-Ann Canuel 3) Cervelo-Bigla
Men’s team time trial (60-km) BMC would love to win this in the last year of its current incarnation.
2017: 1) Sunweb 2) BMC 3) Sky

Monday, September 24
The individual chronos begin on Monday with the Junior Women up first. Last season in all the Junior events the Italians took six medals.
Jr. Women’s individual time trial (20-km)
Canadians: Magdeleine Vallieres-Mill, Simone Boilard
2017: 1) Elena Pirrone (Italy) 2) Alessia Vigilia (Italy) 3) Madeleine Fasnacht (Australia)
Under-23 men’s individual time trial (27.6-km)

Canadians: Nickolas Zukowsky, Adam Roberge
2017: 1) Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) 2) Brandon McNulty (USA) 3) Corentin Ermenault (France)

Tuesday, September 25
Jr. Men individual time trial (27.6-km)
Canadians: Ben Katerberg, Connor Martin
2017: 1) Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) 2) Antonio Puppio (Italy) 3) Filip Maciejuk (Poland)
Elite Women individual time trial (27.6-km)
Canadians: Leah Kirchmann, Karol-Ann Canuel
2017: 1) Annemiek van Vleuten (The Netherlands) 2) Anna van der Breggen (The Netherlands) 3) Katrin Garfoot (Australia)

Karol-Ann Canuel was top Canadian in the 2017 Worlds’ individual time trial.

Wednesday, September 26
Elite Men individual time trial (52.5-km) Last year’s silver medalist Roglic is out of the chrono with an elbow injury. Froome isn’t racing either. Winner of the both Vuelta a España time trials, Australian Rohan Dennis is one of the favourites. Again, the course has a difficult ascent in it.

Canadians: Rob Britton, Hugo Houle
2017: 1) Tom Dumoulin (The Netherlands) 2) Primoz Roglic (Slovenia) 3) Chris Froome (Great Britain)

Thursday, September 27
Jr. Women road race (71.7-km) The only road race that starts in Rattenburg, this course has a shorter lead-up to the Olympia Circuit and completes one lap of it.
Canadians: Elizabeth Gin, Simone Boilard, Kaitlyn Rauwerda, Magdeleine Vallieres-Mill
2017: 1) Elena Pirrone (Italy) 2) Emma Jørgensen (Denmark) 3) Letizia Paternoster (Italy)

Jr. Men road race (132.4-km) The junior men will roll two laps of the circuit, and they will race the 84.7-km lead up that all the races bar the Junior women’s will negotiate.
Canadians: Ben Katerberg, Connor Martin, Carson Miles, Robin Plamondon, Thomas Schellenberg
2017: 1) Julius Johansen (Denmark) 2) Luca Rastelli (Italy) 3) Michele Gazzoli (Italy)

Friday, September 28

U23 Men’s road race (179.9-km) four laps of the circuit
Canadians: Adam Roberge, Ed Walsh, Charles-Etienne Chretien, Nickolas Zukowsky
2017: 1) Benoît Cosnefroy (France) 2) Lennard Kämna (Germany) 3) Michael Carbel (Denmark)

Saturday, September 29
Elite Women’s road race (156.2-km) three laps of the circuit

It will be hard to beat the Dutch, with Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten in defending champion Chantal Blaak’s corner.
Canadians: Sara Bergen, Karol-Ann Canuel, Alison Jackson, Leah Kirchmann, Katherine Maine, Sara Poidevin
2017: 1) Chantal Blaak (The Netherlands) 2) Katrin Garfoot (Australia) 3) Amelie Diderikson (Denmark)

Dutch rider Chantal Blaak took her first road race gold medal last year in Bergen, Norway.

Sunday, September 30
Elite Men’s road race (258.5) six laps of the circuit and one long lap of 31-km, which includes the 3.2-km, 11.2 percent clamber up Höttinger Höll. Most cycling observers believe that this brutal course is going to end Peter Sagan’s streak at three titles in a row and that the rainbow jersey will go to a climber like Angel Lopez or newly crowned Vuelta champion Simon Yates.

Canadians: Michael Woods, Rob Britton, Antoine Duchesne, Hugo Houle
2017: 1) Peter Sagan (Slovakia) 2) Alexander Kristoff (Norway) 3) Michael Matthews (Australia)

Hugo Houle works hard on the Bergen 2017 hills.