Melbourne and Geelong are the privileged cities who will play host to the greatest cyclists in the world for five days of what should be the best racing that has ever graced Australian shores.
For the men's World Champion Road Race, the riders face a relatively flat course; from Melbourne to Geelong there is barely a hill in sight. Riders may endure headwinds and crosswinds and they’ll be lucky if there is a tailwind as the peloton heads for Geelong.
American, Tyler Farrar (USA) who beat Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) to the line on stage five at the Vuelta a España early this September is a top contender for the Rainbow Jersey. Cavendish will compete in the worlds without a lot of support, the British National Champion, Geraint Thomas (Great Britain), has pulled out of the Worlds claiming fatigue, however, the Tour de France confirmed that Cavendish could be able to jump on any wheel to find that magic line.
Will the Manx Missile be able to come through for a win? If so, it will no doubt be the greatest victory of his young and promising career. David Miller (Great Britain),who was stripped of his 2003 Individual World Time Trial title for admitting to the use of the blood booster EPO, will replace the British National Champion.
Belgian rider, Philippe Gilbert's intentions are clear since his stage three finish at the Vuelta a España, this was a similar finish to the one that the riders will experience in Geelong. The 28 year old rider is firmly fixed on the Rainbow Jersey; Gilbert agrees that the toughness of the course has been underestimated by many of the favourites. It’s not the section from Melbourne to Geelong that will provide the most challenge; it’s the 15.9km circuit that they will ride 11 times.
The 15.9km circuit has two significant sharp climbs, along with a couple of very quick turns that could be potentially hazardous, all this before a fast descent into the finish line. If mother nature is in the mood for an exciting finish, she will provide a tail wind to the finish and we will see the likes of Cavendish, Farrar, Gilbert, Greipel (Germany), Hushovd (Norway) and Pozzato (Italy) come to the front for an all out bunch sprint.
German sprinter Andre Greipel has the added benefit of having current HTC Columbia Team mates with him at the worlds, Tony Martin and Danilo Hondo. His main rival for the worlds is Cavendish; both men are out to prove that they‘re better than the other. Cycling fans have waited all season to see a sprint between Cavendish and Greipel; this is one race that shouldn’t be missed.
Current World Champion Cadel Evans (Australia) and Simon Gerrans (Australia) are in with a chance. Gerrans who is signed with Team Sky, experienced a set back recently when team soigneur, Txema Gonzaler, passed away from a stomach virus early September. Gerrans is returning to Australia to train and is considering the Ballarat Classics the weekend before the World Championships to be some solid last minute training.
After having what can only be described as an excruciating Tour de France and finishing with a broken elbow, current World Champion Cadel Evans is still in with a chance for Australia. The ex professional mountain biker proves time and time again that he can pull out all the stops in a one day race, he may not have won the Tour de France but he is the World Champion.
2009 Individual Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) will be contesting his title as the Individual Time Trial World Champion and to top it off he will also be vying for the title of Road World Champion.
Australian, and new kid on the block Richie Porte is a promising talent for Australia given his impressive performance at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year where he surprised the world; this first year neo-pro will, without question, be giving his heart and soul to wear a Rainbow Jersey. 2009 Australian Time Trial Champion and three times Individual Time Trial World Champion (2003-2005) Mick Rogers will also be at the starting line, Rogers has had two impressive finishes this year as the overall winner of the Tour of California and Vuelta a Andalucía.
Tony Martin (Germany) rode to victory at the Individual Time Trial at the Tour de Suisse earlier this year, followed by an overall victory at the Eneco Tour of Benelux, he is the German National Champion and has showed good form all season, he will without a doubt score a podium finish.
I want Mark Cavendish to cross that line two lengths in front of the bunch, he is the fastest man in the world and he will want to prove it.On the other hand the Australian in me is desperate to see Cadel Evans retain the World Championship Jersey, this general classification rider can sprint and climb; the mountain biker in him will push as hard as possible until its all over.
The Tasmanian in me is screaming loudly for Richie Porte to come through for the win at the Individual Time Trial, but the brilliance of the Swiss rider Cancellara puts him as the front runner to maintain his title. Ultimately it will be the experience of riders that will show through; Mick Rogers has had an incredibly successful year and will no doubt show us something special come race day.
This is the one race where it’s each for their own, if riders have the chance and the opportunity, then they will be going for the win. This will be an epic day for cycling.
The men’s road race is on Sunday 3rd October, they will start in Melbourne from Federation Square and the men’s Individual Time Trial is on Thursday 30th of September, for more information on the 2010 Road World Championship head to www.melbourne2010.com.au.
We look forward to seeing you there!