Leaked course still subject to UCI approval

The 2018 Road World Championships route looks set to be one of the toughest in history, with organisers of race in the Austrian city of Innsbruck saying that the race will feature climbs of “Flanders-style steepness”.

Speaking to Cycling Weekly following the conclusion of the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps, Josef G. Margreiter, director-general of the Tirol Tourist Board, confirmed that all of the road events are likely to start in Kufstein and head west along the Inn valley to reach Innsbruck, where the riders will enter an extremely testing finishing circuit.

“The Hungerburg climb on which Michele Scarponi won stage one of the Tour of the Alps will feature, but almost certainly as a descent,” said Margreiter.

“The riders will climb up to the top of the Hungerburg via a much harder and in some places quite a narrow climb that resembles something from the Tour of Flanders in terms of its steepness.”

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Having dropped back down to the river and crossed a bridge into the centre of Innsbruck, the riders will continue on to reach the foot of the massif that dominates the southern side of the Alpine city, where the ski jumps built for the 1976 Winter Olympics are a prominent landmark.

“The second climb on the circuit will be on that side of the city. Covering the two of them several times in the elite men’s race will result in around 5,000 metres of vertical gain,” Margreiter continued.

“The circuit will be tough, but I think it will make for a very exciting race, and one that will really highlight the beauty of Innsbruck and the countryside around it.”

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The route that Margreiter describes seems to tally with that mapped out by Italian journalists in January, which includes two climbs to the top of the Hungerburg, with a descent on the same road that the Tour of the Alps climbed on Monday.

That ascent may only be 2.8km in length, but has an average gradient of 11.4 per cent, with a 17 per cent section in the middle which has a Strava segment titled “Hell”.

Along with the climb to Hungerburg, the 2017 Road World Championships course is also expected to include a climb to the village of Patsch to the south of the city, which has a steadier average gradient of 5.7 per cent, but is also longer at five kilometres.

If that leaked course is correct then the climb to Patsch will not only be tackled twice as part of a final finishing circuit combined with the climb to Hungerburg, but will also be climbed five more times earlier in the race as the riders circle around Innsbruck.

An official announcement of the 2018 Road World Championships course is not expected until next year, with the reported courses still needing to receive approval from the UCI.