The outcome of the men’s World Championships road race could hinge on the weather, according to a number of riders who could potentially win.
The 267.5km race in and around the Norwegian city of Bergen is an intriguing prospect for riders and spectators alike, with parcours suiting all number of riders.
There are 11 laps of a 19.1km circuit in Bergen that includes a 1.5km climb averaging a 6.4 percent gradient. A number of fast men could crest the repeated ascents and contest a reduced sprint finish, or more likely punchy and Classics style riders will be victorious.
The route, however, could be a secondary factor. "The weather will affect it," home favourite and one of the fancied riders Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) told Cycling Weekly. "If it rains, there will always be people who will not be so motivated.
"I don't think wind will make a big difference, but if it rains there are a few corners that could make things interesting.
"It won't be warm in Norway at that time, and there could be people who don't do that well in those conditions."
Dan Martin is part of Ireland's six-man squad, their largest ever team for a World Championships. Although the Quick-Step Floors rider is unlikely to be in contention for the win, he can foresee adverse weather producing a surprise winner.
"The Worlds is always a strange race, always hard," he said. "The weather could play a big part. If it is wet and cold, as it can be up there, you could definitely see different winner than if it was warm and dry, and especially after 270km in the wet and cold."
Czech Republic's lead rider and Martin's current trade teammate Zdenek Stybar agreed, but also pointed out that the race will be unpredictable whatever the weather.
"It's really hard to say how the race will go," was his assessment.
"I think the weather conditions will play a big role. I'm not a fan of rain as it makes it slippery and the riders become more nervous. You can also get into trouble when it's not your fault. I really hope it doesn't rain.
"At 270km, it could turn out to be a sprint, but I don't really expect that. I think there will be some late attacks and a smaller group at the finish. There are options for every kind of rider. It will depend on who takes it into their own hands, who controls the race. It will be interesting."
Boasson Hagen - who may share co-leadership duty with Alexander Kristoff - has ridden the course "a few times". He said: "It's not super-hard, but the length will make a difference.
"The goal is to try and be up there, but there are 200 other people who want to win. I feel pretty good right now and hopefully stay like this and get even better in the team two weeks. It's going to be hard but I will do everything I can to try and win it."
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