Any Road World Championships rainbow jersey is a career-defining achievement for a rider, yet whoever triumphs in 2022 in Australia will hold the additional accolade that they will have won the longest World Championships in more than three decades.
The courses Australian Worlds in Wollongong, which will take place between September 18-25, are still being finalised by former Team Sky sports director Scott Sunderland, who took up the reigns of the organising committee, modifying certain elements including the distance riders will have to cover.
Presently, the men's road race on the closing Sunday September 25 will take in 275km, which as pointed out by L'Equipe would be the longest course since 1987, when Stephen Roche won the rainbow bands in Villach, Austria over a distance of 276km.
The women's elite road race, which will take place the day before on the Saturday, will be 174km long.
The 275km the men will take on is just 7km longer than the Leuven course in Flanders where Julian Alaphilippe triumphed in 2021, while the women's gains an additional 17km from the 157km in Belgium a few months ago.
Originally the Wollongong course was rumoured to be one for the sprinters, which would no doubt suit host country hopeful Caleb Ewan, who could still feature on the new, punchier course that's expected.
The climb of Mount Keira has been confirmed for the 2022 route, an 8.7km ascent with an average gradient of 5 per cent, but with some sections of 15 per cent, which could provide a launchpad for a winning attack.
“If I was speaking to [the race organisers] and they were listening to me, then we wouldn’t be having the course that we have,” Ewan recently told AAP.
“But obviously they can’t really take a rider’s input. It would be very biased. If we are racing in Australia and we have an Australian who can win on a certain course, then it would be a smart idea to make the course suit the Australian. But I don’t think it’s really the Australian way.
“I did hear that the UCI wanted a sprint. Wollongong didn’t want a sprint, because it would suit an Australian, so I’m a bit disappointed in that. I will prove them wrong anyway and I will try to win anyway,” he finished.
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