Road World Championships 2021 route: Profiles for the events in Flanders

We are set for yet another exciting World Championships as the races head to Flanders, Belgium with sharp climbs on the menu

Anna van der Breggen won both the road race and the time trial in 2020
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2021 Road World Championships are set to be held in the town of Leuven in the Flanders region of Belgium.

The schedule is back to its full list after only racing the elite level in the rescheduled 2020 Championships due to Covid-19. 

The new schedule starts with the individual time trial, kicking off with the men's elite event, this goes until September 21 with the men's and women's junior time trials.

Then it's the return of the mixed relay team time trial, where teams of three men and three women from the same nation compete together. The men ride a 22.5km route and the women a 22km route with the men racing from Knokke-Heist to Bruges and the women starting in Bruges before racing a loop back to the city. The combined fastest time decides the winner.

After that, the road races start with the men's junior and under 23 races taking place on Friday, September 24. The women's junior and elite races both go ahead a day later with the elite men's road race being the last event on the Sunday. 

This year's Championships are a bit different in that not everything finishing in the same place as the time trials all being races between Knokke-Heist and Bruges.

The men's and women's junior races both take place entirely on the circuit around Leuven with the women taking on five laps and the men tackling eight.

The men's under 23 race as well as both the elite men's and women's races all start in Antwerp and the famous Grote Markt before all riding both the Leuven circuit (four climbs) but also another known as the Flandrien circuit (six climbs).

The men's elite road race is over a brutal distance of 268.3km taking in 2,562 metres of elevation including 42 categorised climbs along the way over the two used circuits after a flat first quarter of the day and a slightly uphill finish on the Geldenaaksevest.

In the elite women's race the route is over 100km shorter than the men's with a 157.7km course set up to decide the next world champion with the route including one lap of the Leuven circuit and two and a half laps of the Flandrien circuit with 20 climbs.

Here are the race profiles for all the events in this year's World Championships.

UCI World Road Championships Flanders 2021 - Routes

Men's elite road race

The men's elite road race at the 2021 World Championships

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The men's elite road race starts in the city of Antwert with 268.3km on the menu with a finish in the town of Leuven after taking on 42 climbs along the way.

The climbs of the Leuven and Flandrien circuits at the World Championships 2021

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

In comparison to last year's championships, the climbs are tiny but with the race expected to be ridden hard, riders will likely be all over the road by the end and is the weather is anything like it was in Yorkshire back in the 2019 Worlds, it will be very selective.

Women's elite road race

The women's elite road race at the World Championships 2021

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The women's elite road race, while being far shorter than the men's race, is expected to create just as much drama as the short route lend themselves to very explosive races from start to finish. This should be no different. 

Men and women's elite individual time trial

Men's elite time trial

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The elite men face a slightly longer route to the elite women with the men taking on a 43.3km route from Knokke-Heist to Bruges on a largely pan-flat course that should suit the power time trialists.

The women's elite time trial

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The elite women take on a very similar looking route but over 30.3km. It does still suit a power rider unlike the last edition which favoured a rider who could take on the climbs as well.

Men's U23, men's junior and women's junior road race routes

Men's U23 road race

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The men's U23 road race looks largely similar to the women's elite road race but is, in fact, three kilometres longer than that race with is sitting at 160.9km with 20 climbs on the route it goes over the same laps as the women's elite race.

Men's junior road race

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

In the men's junior road race the riders will take on a challenging 121.4km over eight laps of the finishing circuit in Leuven. Taking on 31 official climbs as well as the rise to the finish on the Geldenaaksevest adding another eight.

Women's junior road race

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

With the women not getting an U23 race, the junior road race is the main stage for the fresh up-and-coming talent of the sport. 

The route races entirely on the Leuven circuit, much like the men's junior race, but it is over five laps making a 75km route with 25 climbs including the rises to the finish.

Men's U23, men's junior and women's junior time trial routes

Men's U23 time trial

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The men's U23 time trial route is exactly the same as the women's elite race with the start in Knokke-Heist and finishing in Bruges after 30.3km.

Men's junior time trial

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The men's junior time trial route takes on 22.3km between Knokke-Heist and Bruges missing out a couple of the short ascents the other routes face.

Women's junior time trial

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

Taking a very different route between Knokke-Heist and Bruges, the junior women face a short yet sharp kick right at the start of the race before a completely flat ride all the way to the line.

Team time trial mixed relay

The team time trial mixed relay

(Image credit: Flanders 2021)

The second edition of the mixed relay comes two years after the first that took place in Harrogate in 2019.

The race sees the men ride a 22.5km route from Knokke-Heist to Bruges where the women will start their ride of 22km before coming back to finish in the famous city making a route of 44.5km.

The two times are put together and the fastest joint time wins.

Tim Bonville-Ginn
Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

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