The UCI Road World Championships take place this weekend, September 26 and 27 in Richmond, USA, where a new pair of elite riders will get hold of the rainbow jersey for a year.
The women’s race runs on Saturday evening, UK time, and Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead heads into the showdown as one of the favourites.
The following day the men take on the course but the depletion of the GB men’s squad means victory will be a tough ask/
Here we’ve chosen ten of the best finishes to the race for the rainbow stripes. We start with the most recent men’s race, but these are in no particular order.
1. Polish commentator goes wild for Kwiatkowski, 2014
Last year’s race came was won by Michal Kwiatkowski, and he owes as much to his head as he does to his legs.
Whilst the other main contenders were watching each other, the Pole sprung away from the group and kept them at bay all the way to the line.
This video is especially good as his compatriot commentators get so excited about his win.
2. Gilbert storms up the Cauberg to take victory, 2012
Looking back, this was probably the end of Philippe Gilbert‘s golden era, having taken all three of the Ardennes Classics the year before.
This was every bit the puncheur’s win and what better puncheur was there at the time?
3. Vos wins on the Cauberg too, in even more devastating fashion, 2012
The speed she attacks, plus the helicopter shot, makes it look like she’s sprinting along a flat road. Marianne Vos is actually smashing her way up the Cauberg to take her second rainbow jersey after a run of five consecutive silver medals.
An injury blighted season means she won’t be taking the start line this year, but hopefully she’ll be back to full strength in 2016.
4. LeMond wins in the rain, 1989
Greg LeMond once again denied Laurent Fignon the victory when he took the win in the 1989 road race.
This was the same year that LeMond beat Fignon by just eight seconds to take victory in the Tour de France.
These famous rivals weren’t the only ones left but as the race summited the final climb and took to the descent, Fignon passed a small leading group to retake the lead. LeMond was on and off the pace but kept closing the gap to the leaders.
Other riders attacked and were brought back, and LeMond and Fignon continuously watched each other.
Fignon made a final attack with less than one kilometre to go but the small group came back together on the run in to the finish line, with LeMond victorious in the sprint.
5. A young, fairly unknown Texan takes a surprise win, 1993
An American in his early twenties turned up at the Worlds, attacked the pack, stayed away and won. He went on to become a bit of a name in the world of cycling.
6. Tommy Simpson wins Britain’s first rainbow jersey, 1965
There isn’t a video available of this one, unfortunately. However, we do have the original report from Cycling when Tommy Simpson won the World Champs 50 years ago.
Sir Bradley Wiggins is widely credited with spearheading a new love of cycling in the UK and a new appreciation of British cycling talent abroad, but it was Simpson who was blazing a trail decades before.
As the original article stated, “what is so surprising is the incredible popularity of the win in the foreign press, in the minds of the continentals who came to the race. For them this is more than just another win, it is an outstanding win, and one which will do the sport itself a power of good on the continent.”
It’s well known that Simpson met a tragic end on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, but before that he was the champion of the world. Allez Tom.
7. Team disorder squanders the victory, 1982
The UK played host to the World Champs in 1982 but it didn’t end in a home victory. Instead it was LeMond who made the headlines, but not for taking the victory.
The American can be seen here chasing down his own teammate, Jonathan Boyer, whilst dragging the field across the gap. Italian Giuseppe Saronni passes them both and gets the rainbow jersey.
8. Cav wins, skinsuits and aero helmets become de rigeur, 2011
After a huge team effort, including a massive turn on the front from Wiggins, Mark Cavendish came out on top of a hectic bunch sprint to become only the second male British world champion after Simpson.
The Manxman took the win wearing a skinsuit and aero road helmet, which are far more common in road races now than they were four years ago.
9. Burton completely dominates, 1967
Like Simpson’s win, this one is a bit far back for us to have access to any footage, but what a win it was.
Beryl Burton had already won the World Championships in 1960 but her second victory, in 1967, was a stand-out achievement. Leading from the front almost from the flag-drop she rode everyone off her wheel and then just kept going.
The Yorkshirewoman finished 1-47 ahead of second placed Lyubov Zadorozhnaya of the Soviet Union and almost six minutes ahead of the rest of the peloton.
10. Merckx and Gimondi battle it out, 1971
Eddy Merckx is considered by most as the best male road cyclist ever to have graced two wheels. However, he had his rivals and many of them were very good in their own right.
Chief among the Cannibal’s rivals was Felice Gimondi, a man who can stand alongside Merckx in the prestigious club of riders who have won all three Grand Tours.
The two men forced the tempo at the World Champs until they were the only riders left, then they went for each other. Gimondi attacked over and over again, forcing Merckx to chase, but couldn’t shake his younger rival.
The race came down to a sprint and Merckx’s explosive power proved the deciding factor.