Belgium starts UCI Road World Championship as favourite

The 90th World Cycling Championships is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland. In just 11 days, more than 200 titles in 13 disciplines will be handed out. Belgium is poised to dominate the men’s elite road race on Sunday 6 August, the main event of the tournament.

The course should suit the Belgians perfectly. The riders set off in Edinburgh for a 271km race, ending in Glasgow after 10 laps on a local circuit. Those laps will include several short climbs, similar to the spring classics that Flanders is known for.

Defending world champion

Remco Evenepoel is the favourite. The Belgian became world champion last year in Australia and will undoubtedly be looking to defend his title. Evenepoel’s Giro was disappointing, with an early exit due to a Covid-19 infection, but after winning both the Belgian road championship and the Clasica San Sebastian, he is ready for Glasgow.

"This victory gives a lot of motivation for the World Championships, it’s very good for my mental state,” he said after winning in San Sebastian. “I got the answers I wanted, I only saw good signs regarding next Sunday.”

Then there is Wout Van Aert, who has not had his most successful seasons in recent years, with lots of podium places but few victories. He did play a major part in Jonas Vingegaard’s Tour de France victory, however, proving he is still a force to be reckoned with.

In case of a close finish, Jasper Philipsen will undoubtedly have the advantage. The 23-year-old dominated the Tour with four victories and established himself as the world’s best sprinter by winning the green jersey. But Glasgow might be a more difficult prospect for him: due to the race’s hilly profile, a group sprint seems unlikely, reducing his chances of winning.

Too much star power?

A Belgian victory in Glasgow is of course far from certain. Some speculate that the amount of star power in the squad might end up hurting the team. In case Van Aert and Evenepoel both find themselves at the front of the race, one of them will have to put their ego aside to ensure Belgium’s victory.

Belgium’s hope for a new rainbow jersey is not lost if they don't win on Sunday. On Wednesday 9 August, the individual time trial will take place, with Evenepoel and Van Aert among the favourites.

Lotte Kopecky, one of the world’s best female riders, will take part in both road and track events next week. And that’s not to mention the various junior and U23 events that are also taking place during the tournament. Winning in cycling is never guaranteed, but the odds are certainly in Belgium’s favour.



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