Imola will host the 2020 World Championships, after the Switzerland event was cancelled due to coronavirus.
The UCI was forced to search for a new host for the Worlds at the last minute, after the Swiss government extended its quarantine restrictions in August.
Initially scheduled to run in the Aigle and Martigny regions of Switzerland from September, 20, the Worlds will instead be held from Thursday, September 24 to Sunday, September 27 around the Italian city of Imola, famed for its motor racing circuit.
But the UCI has also announced that the junior and under-23 Worlds will not be held this year and instead will be pushed back to 2021. The reigning champions in those categories will keep their rainbow jerseys for another year.
The 2020 Worlds were due to open with the elite men’s time trial, which would have clashed with the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris.
In the new schedule, the men’s and women’s elite time trials will kick off the event on September 24, with the women’s road race then taking place on Saturday, September 26.
Finally the elite men’s road race will be held the following day.
All the events in this year’s Worlds will start and finish on the iconic Imola racing circuit, but the races will travel around the Emilia-Romagna region and will still feature plenty of climbing.
The road races will run at 258.2km with almost 5,000 metres of climbing with nine laps of the 28.8km circuit for the men and five laps for the women over 143km, with 2,650m of climbing, starting and finishing in Imola and will feature two notable climbs, 3km in total with average gradients of 10 per cent, with maximum ramps of 14 per cent.
The time trial circuit will be a flat 31.7km with 200m of altitude gain, with both the men and the women covering one lap of the course.
UCI president David Lappartient said: “I am convinced that the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Imola will allow us all, despite the difficult current situation, to witness a great sporting festival. I invite you all to follow this event in Italy, true cycling territory, on one of the most challenging circuits in the history of the UCI Road World Championships. I look forward to watching these races which promise to be magnificent.”
Other options for the 2020 Worlds included Peccioli, Alba Adriatica, both in Italy and Haute-Saône in France.
The road Worlds were initially given the go-ahead in June despite the pandemic, but doubts soon emerged because of the local health regulations in the Aigle-Martigny area.
On August 12 news emerged that the 2020 World Championships would be cancelled because authorities in Switzerland had extended the ban on sports gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
As coronavirus cases in Switzerland began to rise in August, the Swiss government decided to extend the ban on large sporting events until October 1.
Organisers said that with 1,200 riders expected to take part across 11 events, and with the number of fans who would attend, it would be impossible to hold the event safely within the guidelines set out by health authorities.
UCI World Road Championships 2020, Imola – Routes
Men’s elite road race
The race has a similar look to the course seen in Yorkshire last year only with the climbs being a bit longer and steeper.
The route isn’t taking in climbs as big as the ones we were going to see in the Swiss course which opens it up to a few more riders with a punchier style compared to the pure climbers that have a good kick.
The first climb on the circuit, the Mazzolano is 2.8km long with an average gradient of just 5.9 per cent, but the first kilometre is a vicious 9.6 per cent average gradient maxing out at 13 per cent.
Making it a perfect launch pad for an attack, the riders can whittle things down and then maybe attack as the gradient relaxes before the top.
The second climb is actually steeper again. The Cima Gallisterna is 2.7km with an average gradient of 6.4 per cent, but the middle 1.3km has an average gradient of 10.9 per cent with the maximum slopes hitting a hellish 14 per cent.
This is followed by a shallow descent and then a slightly flat road to the finish, so it is will be where the race is decided.
Women’s elite road race
The women’s elite road race will be taking in the same circuit as the men with the vicious Mazzolano and Cima Gallisterna climbs but over fewer laps.
Because the race is just 143km we will likely see a very explosive race from the gun whereas we may see the action build slowly in the longer men’s race.
Men and women’s elite individual time trial
The 31.7km time trial will be taken on by both the men and the women, much like at the European Championships earlier in the year.
A relatively flat course with just 200m altitude gain, but with some small rises potentially opening it up for a mix of riders who can go for the win.