Our team will have riders from eleven countries at the start of the hard 276.5km-long race.
Norway, the land of fjords and trolls, of Odin and Thor, of salmon and aurora borealis, is preparing to draw the curtain over the second World Championships edition the country has hosted, after the one in 1993. A competition which kicked out a week ago, when our squad was one of the main protagonists in the testing team time trial, will conclude on Sunday with the men's elite road race, one of the most awaited events of the year.
Julian Alaphilippe (France), Jack Bauer (New Zealand), David De La Cruz (Spain), Fernando Gaviria (Colombia), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Bob Jungels (Luxembourg), Dan Martin (Ireland), Maximiliano Richeze (Argentina), Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic), Niki Terpstra (Netherlands), Matteo Trentin (Italy), Petr Vakoč (Czech Republic) and Julien Vermote (Belgium) – who between them have won 33 races this season – are the thirteen Quick-Step Floors riders to line out for the race.
Since the team managed by Patrick Lefevere was created back in 2003, the Quick-Step Floors riders sailed to victory on four occasions – 2005 (Tom Boonen), 2006 and 2007 (Paolo Bettini), 2014 (Michal Kwiatkowski) – a remarkable feat no other World Tour outfit has achieved in recent times. On Sunday, many of the thirteen men mentioned above will start with a fair chance of taking the win and bringing the famed rainbow jersey back in the squad after three years.
The course is cut out for both attackers and sprinters, the outcome depending on the weather and the way the event will be raced, as shown by the Junior and U23 races which took place earlier this week, where aggressive racing and strong attacks from afar spoiled the sprinters' chances. At 276.5 kilometers, this will be the longest race in the history of the World Championships and everyone's expecting it to revolve around Salmon Hill, the 1500m climb averaging 6.4% which will feature on each of the race's twelve laps, last time with ten kilometers remaining.
Will Salmon Hill play a decisive role or will the winning move form much earlier in the race? We'll find out in less than 24 hours, when the name of the new world champion will emerge from the peloton on the coastal city.
Photo credit: ©BrakeThrough Media