Is it too early to be excited about the 2018 World Championships? Certainly not if this video of Italian riders tackling one of the climbs on the course is anything to go by.
Posted on Facebook by Italian national coach David Cassani, the video shows Vincenzo Nibali, Franco Pellizotti, Alessandro De Marchi, and former professional and local rider Martin Weiss struggling up the climb to Gramart.
This will be the final climb in the men’s road race on September 30, being crested with just eight kilometres remaining, and includes a section nicknamed “hell” which features a maximum gradient of 28 per cent.
The video itself shows Nibali at the front followed by Pellizotti on his left and De Marchi behind, with all three riders appearing to be feeling the effects of the steep gradient.
However although they might look like they’re struggling, the riders were still going faster than most with Nibali taking the KOM on the 28 per cent sector on Strava, and De Marchi taking the KOM on the climb as a whole.
Speaking after they’d taken a look at the route, the riders were certainly impressed by what they saw on what is the most mountainous World Championship road race course since the 1995 event in Colombia.
“The ‘hell’ section reminds me of a mountain bike climb. But before that there is also the eight kilometre climb,” Nibali said.
“I expect a hard race with plenty to think about: how do I allocate my powers, when do I eat, what equipment do I use? And the decisive factor for the national coach is also the right selection of teammates.
“After [former professional rider and course designer] Thomas Rohregger showed me the route on the map before departure, I expected a difficult course. But the recon ride gives me even more respect. Many other riders will be surprised like me.”