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Who are the favourites for the elite women's road World Championships 2021?

Robyn Davidson
20 Sep 2021

The Dutch team are looking to avoid a repeat of the Olympic Games.

The Elite Women’s Road Race of the 2021 UCI World Championships is set to take place on Saturday 25th of September and the field is absolutely stacked. It’s hard to look past the Dutch team once again, but as we saw in the Olympics, anything can happen. Here are some of the key names to follow…

Annemiek van Vleuten, Netherlands
Age: 38
Trade team: Movistar Team
Best Elite Women’s Road result: 1st (2019)

It’ll be interesting to see how the Dutch team respond at Worlds after their less-than-expected performance at the Olympic Games. Pencilled in to win at least one medal – gold very much on the cards – they didn’t realise Anna Kiesenhofer was ahead until after the line. Van Vleuten still won an impressive silver and then achieved gold in the time trial, with a rainbow jersey now in sight. This year has been highly successful for her, winning the Tour of Flanders 10 years after her last in the race, and the Ladies Tour of Norway after four stages. She finished second behind Demi Vollering at Liège-Bastogne-Liège – her national teammate for the upcoming World Championships. On the subject of teammates, Anna van der Breggen is in her final year as a professional rider. Should she take the victory in Flanders, the concept of no rainbow jersey in the peloton next year is an interesting one indeed. But as van Vleuten has previously won the Elite Women’s Road Race World Championships in 2019, she will certainly be looking to add another to her ever-growing palmarès.

Marianne Vos, Netherlands
Age: 34
Trade team: Jumbo-Visma
Best result: 1st (2013)

I’m aware of falling into the same trap encountered before the Olympics, which is to hype up the Netherlands team too much. But what is a favourites piece without Marianne Vos? One of the all-time cycling legends that has won almost every race in the calendar, she has already claimed victory at Gent-Wevelgem – the first win for the new women’s Jumbo-Visma team – and the Amstel Gold Race in 2021. In July she won her 30th stage victory at the Giro d’Italia Donne, with her wins multifaceted and spreading across sprints, climbs and time trials. The three-time road world champion recently achieved three wins at the Simac Ladies Tour towards the end of August, winning in the prologue time trial and the final two sprint stages. A champion of champions, always keep an eye on her.

Lotte Kopecky, Belgium
Age: 25
Trade team: Liv Racing
Best result: 75th (2016)

Lotte Kopecky has enjoyed a successful 2021 season that no doubt puts her into contention for the rainbow jersey. The 25-year-old won the cobbled Le Samyn des Dames at the beginning of the year after initial disappointment at Omloop, then retained her national titles in both the road race and time trial. She further dominated at the Lotto Belgium Tour in June. Her third place on the second stage progressed to first on the third stage, winning the general and points classifications while placing second in the mountains. After her 4th place in the Olympics road race, Kopecky recovered from injury to win the final stage of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini. The Belgian team includes Jolien D’Hoore, Kopecky’s partner on track for the Madison who announced her plans to retire at the end of the season. Also included will be Shari Bossuyt, Kim de Baat, Valerie Demey and Jessie Vandenbulcke.

Lizzie Deignan, Great Britain
Age: 32
Trade team: Trek-Segafredo
Best result: 1st (2015)

Lizzie Deignan will be leading the Great Britain squad at worlds, and will be doing her best to replicate her previous success in the event. At the Tour de Suisse this year, she won the second stage into Frauenfeld. Her win resulted in the general classification victory by one second over Elise Chabbey, with Deignan taking home the points and mountains classifications too. Great Britain are sending an exciting team alongside Deignan, including Anna Shackley – her road race partner at the Tokyo Olympics – and Joss Lowden who is soon scheduled to take on the Hour Record. Former national champion Alice Barnes, Anna Henderson and La Choralise Fourmies Féminine winner Pfeiffer Georgi are also included.

Name: Emma Norsgaard, Denmark.
Age: 22
Trade team: Movistar Team
Best result: 61st (2020)

Emma Norsgaard has been marked by Elisa Longo Borghini as one to watch for the upcoming world championship road race, and it’s easy to see why. The Danish national champion went head-to-head with fast-finisher Lorena Wiebes at the Giro d’Italia Donne, ultimately winning on Stage 6. On the longest stage, she beat Coryn Rivera and Marianne Vos to the line in Colico. Norsgaard also collected a number of second-place finishes at Omloop, Le Samyn and Scheldeprijs. But it was at the Ceratizit Festival Elsy Jacobs race that she truly shone, her Stage 1 and 2 wins resulting in general classification, points classification and youth classification victories. She may not be drawing as much attention as names in the Dutch team for example, but I’m looking forward to seeing how she rides. Norsgaard will be on the start line alongside Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Amalie Dideriksen, Marita Jensen, Rebecca Koerner and Julie Leth.

The Elite Women’s Road Race World Championship will take place on Saturday the 25th of September. Head to our guide for full details of how to watch the UCI World Championships 2021.