The 2010 UCI Road World Championships kick off this Wednesday with a series of events that will lead to the Elite Men's Finale on Sunday, October 3, in and around the Australian city of Geelong.
Unlike the grand tours, the UCI World Championships are organized around teams of competing nationality, and not by riders working for their trade team (i.e. Saxo Bank, Rabobank, Liquigas... etc.). The winner earns a medal and the opportunity to wear the UCI WCC five-color jersey for a year. Often, companies that supply the winning bike will also include the WCC emblem into their paint schemes.
This year there is still an interesting field of competitors still hungry for some kind of victory after a season of disappointment and woe.
Who to watch:
1) Mark Cavendish, the polarizing sprinter from the Isle of Man, has been making some high talk around town about taking another prize to add to his 2005 and 2008 victories. Cav has had a spotty season with several stage wins, and several self-made implosions. He often comes across as a talented, albeit whiney brat, like Luke Skywalker from the 1977 Star Wars film.
2) The Aussie and current WCC defender, Cadel Evans, is looking to earn his stripes on home soil in full view of his countrymen, and to also atone for his failures in both the Giro and the Tour de France, which he rode with a fractured wrist. Evans looked promising early in the season, but the victories never materialized. This would be a good opportunity to make things happen.
3) Andy and Frank Schleck are back to try their luck on gaining the top spot. So far they have either fallen to injuries or been left holding the bouquet.
4) The Mighty Thor Hushovd will be eagerly awaiting a chance to make Cav eat his words. Thor is another top sprinter who revels in making Cav whine.
5) The Spanish Riders are looking for Milan-San Remo winner, Oscar Freire, to add a fourth WCC to his 1999, 2000, and 2004 titles.
6) The Italians will be fielding a team headlining the young 2010 Vuelta champion, Vincenzo Nibali, to bring Italy back into the ranks of 'World's Best". The Italian teams have taken a beating in recent years, which has raised questions of Italy's commitment to a sport they once owned.
7) The Americans are putting their hopes on Tyler Ferrar, who has had some excellent sprinting victories this season, but the big wins have been elusive.
In any sense it appears to be a sprinter's race this year and it should be worth following. Link