For the first time since 1982, the UCI Road World Championships is coming to the UK. Back then the racing took place around the racing circuit in Goodwood down in sleepy West Sussex, but this time around we’re expecting it to be a lot rowdier. The county of Yorkshire has been well and truly bitten by the cycling bug, displaying an incredible passion for the bike since 2014’s Grand Départ that saw huge crowds welcome the Tour.
The event runs from September 22nd to the 29th and we’ll be there all week with a World Champs pop-up at our Harrogate Concept Store, right in the heart of the action. So come join us, have a drink and let's mull over your predictions for who'll take home the rainbow stripes.
Yorkshire’s rolling roads and narrow lanes are sure to provide a tough test and produce a worthy champion. Ask local riders and they’ll describe the terrain in these parts as ‘grippy’ – a splendidly understated Yorkshire term referring to the heavy, often rough surfaces and technical, twisty roads.
Courses at the Worlds are always built around a circuit, in this case, a 14km lap around Harrogate, but to even get there the riders have to complete a tough ride of almost 270km over rolling Yorkshire countryside. The total road race distance for the men is 284km, making this second only to Milan-San Remo in length, and even then only by 7km. This race is one for the hardmen, those who can take the accumulated elevation gain and still be in the mix once they hit the closing circuit.
It’s the type of course that suits someone who knows how to ride an attacking race, all the while keeping a little back for the finale, and who has experience of doing just that at the very highest level. Peter Sagan, three-time world champion and all-round cycling superhero, has got to be considered among the favourites. He’s had a relatively quiet year – though winning a stage in the Tour would be the pinnacle of a career for some – and he’s proved before that you discount him at your peril. He’s hungry for a record-breaking fourth title and has been training as seriously as you’d expect…
One rider who’s pushed his Specialized whip to victory time and time again in 2019 is the current darling of French cycling, Julian Alaphillipe. Loulou’s ride in the Tour was nothing short of spectacular and the type of rolling terrain to be found in Yorkshire is almost tailor-made for him. He’s also done it in the longest event of all, his victory in Milan-San Remo heralding his stellar form way back in March. Can he maintain it all the way to Harrogate?
Another big name that calls out for attention is Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert. He signalled his late-season form with two-stage victories at the recent Vuelta, a race many have described as the hardest Grand Tour of the year, and his endurance was evident as he ushered a battered and bruised James Knox to an incredible 11th place in the general classification.
And how about teen phenom Remco Evenepoel? It would be a big step-up for the 19-year old Belgian, but he’s blown even some of the biggest races apart this year. Who can forget his dominant performance in the closing phases of the 227km-long Clásica San Sebastián, a distinctly hilly one-day classic, where he rode away from the climber-heavy peloton to seal his first-ever WorldTour win – the first of many, we’re absolutely sure.
If recent history is anything to go by then the probability of a Specialized win in the elite women’s road race is pretty high. One of our bikes has been ridden to victory every year since Lizzie Deignan’s 2015 win, and the defending champion Anna van der Breggen should be a safe bet to make it two in a row. She heads a Dutch team that includes two of her Boels-Dolmans teammates, the new European road race champion, Amy Pieters, and 2017 world champion, Chantal Blaak. The Netherlands team has unparalleled strength in depth and we will not be in the least surprised if any one of our trios takes the rainbow bands.
These guys will all be riding the not-so-gentle lap of Yorkshire onboard their uber-capable Tarmac machines. Whether it’s long climbs, windy flats, Grand Tour stages or local café rides, the Tarmac delivers on every level.
It’s also fast. The Tarmac has aero features added without any cost to weight. Through development, three areas were identified where we could add aero for free – a new fork shape, dropped seatstays with aero tubes, and a D-shaped seatpost and seat tube. The result? A Tarmac that’s even more aero than the Venge, our designated aero bike.
The race of truth
The individual time trial at the Worlds this year is sure to be a close-run thing. With numerous national champions turning up with their slippery time trial bikes, expect to see some blisteringly fast times on the 54km run from Northallerton to Harrogate. Danish TT champ Kasper Asgreen has had a breakout season and he’ll be looking to put one over on his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Evenepoel, who’s down to ride both the road race and the TT.
These two were separated by only 18 seconds in August’s European Road Championships ITT over a course of around half the distance. Can Evenepoel take it again? We can’t wait to see how fast these boys can push their ludicrously quick Shiv TT bikes.
We’ve been living by these words for more than 40 years. It’s what motivated us to make our first tyre in 1976 and now we’ve teamed up with 3D printing gurus Carbon to revolutionise saddle construction.
The Power Saddle with Mirror is just the beginning. Partnering with Carbon we have the opportunity to revolutionise riding across all contact points. We’ll have more about this exciting project soon, so keep your eyes peeled.