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Flanders UCI Road Cycling World Championships 2021: Key information

Joseph Delves
6 Sep 2021

A complete guide to the Flanders UCI Road World Championships 2021

This year will see the centenary edition of the UCI Road World Championships, factoring in interruptions for the Second World War.

Returning to the heartland of cycling, this year's Worlds will take place in the Flanders region of Belgium from Sunday 19th September to Sunday 26th September 2021.

There are time-trial, road race, and mixed relay events. Julian Alaphilippe and Anna van der Breggen will be looking to defend their road race titles, Filippo Ganna returns as a favourite against the clock, though Van der Breggen sadly won't defend her TT title in her final World Championships.

Hosted in Belgium, you'd expect there to be a few of the region's legendary climbs like the Oude Kwaremont or the Muur van Geraardsbergen on the menu.

However, haggling over the €3 million asking price to host the event means that unless you're a particularly keen student of the somewhat obscure Brabantse Pijl race – won this year by one Tom Pidcock – you're unlikely to recognise any of the climbs. Still, at least the race isn't in Doha.

Instead, the road race routes comprise an unrelenting onslaught of small hills which will combine to grind down the racers. With only around half the climbing of the 2020 World Championship races held in Imola, Italy, the course nevertheless looks to favour the kind of durable Classics specialists that did well last time around.

With no under-23 or junior races contested last year due to a Covid-reduced schedule, 2021 also sees a return of a full line-up of events. Read on for key details, course previews, and our pick of the favourites...

Flanders UCI Road World Championships 2021: Key information

Dates: Sunday 19th September to Sunday 26th September 2021
Location: Flanders, Belgium.
UK television coverage: Live coverage on BBC and Eurosport – full guide TBC

Flanders UCI Road World Championships 2021: Full race programme (timings TBC)

Day 1: Sunday 19th September: Elite Men's Time-Trial – 43.3km

Day 2: Monday 20th September: Men U23 Time-Trial – 30.3km and Elite Women's Time-Trial – 30.3km

Day 3: Tuesday 21st September: Junior Women's Time-Trial – 19.3 km and Junior Men's Time-Trial – 22.3 km

Day 4: Wednesday 22nd September: Mixed Team Relay – 44.5km

Day 5: Thursday 23rd September (no events)

Day 6: Friday 24th September: Junior Women's Road Race – 73.7km and Men's U23 Road Race – 162.6km

Day 7: Saturday 25th September: Junior Men's Road Race – 119.4km and Elite Women's Road Race – 157.7km

Day 8: Sunday 26th September: Elite Men's Road Race – 267.7km

How to watch the UCI World Championships 2021: Full schedule for live TV and highlights TBC

Flanders UCI Road World Championships 2021: Route maps and profiles

Elite Men's Road Race Course

With 42 Flandrien climbs, most of which are relatively obscure, plus a baffling combination of repeated and interlinking circuits, the 2021 World Champs road race course is a hot mess.

Not that we expect it to pass off in anything other than seamless and exciting style, it's just that it requires a several page PDF to explain how it makes its way from the start line in Antwerp to the finish in Leuven.

However, the main things to be aware of are that it accumulates 267.7 kilometres and 2,562 vertical metres before concluding on Leuven's slightly uphill Geldenaaksevesta. Relentlessly up and down, despite missing out on the region's genuinely famous hellingen (climbs) the course has the sort of profile you'd expect of a hilly Belgian Classic.

Offering a vast number of attack points, after a straightforward 56km from Antwerp to Leuven, this is how the organisers describe the route:

'Arriving in Leuven, the final unfolds on the local circuit (four hills) and the Flandrien circuit (six hills). The route itself comprises 1.5x local circuit Leuven, 1x Flandrien circuit, followed by 4x local circuit Leuven, 1x Flandrien circuit, and 2.5x local circuit Leuven.'

See, we're not just lazy; it's madness. Happily for both the racers and fans watching on TV, this convoluted route is unlikely to make much difference to how the racing unfolds.

Elite Women's and Men's U23 Road Race Courses

The route for the Elite Women and Men’s U23 road race is marginally less complicated. Again beginning with a straightforward 56km (62km for the U23 men) ride to the town of Leuven, this is followed by 1.5 laps of the 15.5 km finishing circuit (four hills per lap), a single 50km lap of the Flandrien circuit (five hills), and finally another 2.5 lap re-run of the finishing circuit.

Flanders UCI Road World Championships 2021 Time-Trial Courses

Starting alongside the North Sea in Knokke-Heist, the time-trial course turns inland after one and a half kilometres. Almost entirely flat, even once off the coast, it will still be the wind rather than the minimal altitude gain that likely causes the most difficulty. Passing through fields and along canals, the men's and women's routes are mainly similar.

Taking in 43.3km and a tiny 78m of climbing, the men get an extra 13km trip down the Boudewijn Canal on their way to the finish in the fairytale town of Bruges. Featuring an even more miniscule 54 metres of climbing, the 30.3km women's race is similarly flat and untechnical.

Defending Champions

Forced by Covid restrictions to switch from Switzerland to Italy at short notice, the 2020 World Championships in Imola still provided some exceptional racing. Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen started things off by winning the time-trial before easily seeing off Annemiek van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borghini in the road race.

Italian Filippo Ganna comfortably won the Men's time-trial ahead of Wout van Aert, before the Belgian was again beaten into second in the road race by Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.

With a curtailed schedule seeing no under-23 or junior races contested last year, the riders who won their jerseys at the World Championships held in Yorkshire in 2019 will carry them into this year's races.

Results and defending champions from Imola 2020

Men's Road Race

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
Wout van Aert (BEL)
Marc Hirschi (SUI)

Men's time trial

Filippo Ganna (ITA)
Wout van Aert (BEL)
Stefan Küng (SUI)

Women's road race

Anna van der Breggen (NED)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED)
Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA)

Women's time trial

Anna van der Breggen (NED)
Marlen Reusser (SUI)
Ellen van Dijk (NED)

Favourites: Men's Road Race

With Classics specialists now winning stages in mountainous Grand Tours, and plenty of GC riders that you wouldn't bet against in one-day races, there are many riders in contention.

However, although a Pogačar or a Carapaz could provide an upset, it does look like a course made to offer home fans and Classics aficionados the sort of racing and results they enjoy.

Wout van Aert

A Belgian winner for a Belgian World Championships? There seem few reasons not to put Wout at the head of the bunch. Having stayed the course at the Tour and grabbed a couple of incredible wins, no one worked harder in the Olympic road race. Through a combination of luck and hard work, he's also having a slightly better season than rival Mathieu van der Poel.

Julian Alaphilippe

By his incredibly high standards, Alaphilippe might not be having his most outstanding season. However, having sat out the Olympics and not ridden the Vuelta, there's little cause to suspect he won't be in a position to make a meaningful defence of his rainbow jersey.

Mathieu van der Poel

The Dutch rider is a favourite in everything he enters. However, following a crash during the Olympic MTB race, he's been struggling with back problems. Already forced out of the mountain bike World Championships, his father has suggested he may skip the rest of the season to concentrate on racing cyclocross this winter.

Remco Evenepoel

At 21 years old, Evenepoel could still spend another couple of years riding in the U23 event. Instead, he's a contender in the Elite race. Part of the powerful Belgian squad, he's had a quiet season but seems to be hitting form at the right moment with an overall win at the Tour of Denmark.

Mads Pedersen

It's not like Pedersen won the biblically attritional 2019 World Championships by fluke. However, he somehow doesn't get the billing he deserves. Yet when he wins, he tends to do so emphatically. Looking to be in good form; there's no reason he couldn't get a second world title in Belgium. Working in conjunction with fellow Dane Kasper Asgreen, either could be a good shout.

Tom Pidcock

Pidcock isn't much fancied by the bookies, to the extent that you wonder if they perhaps missed him winning gold in the Olympic mountain bike event. Currently having a slightly torrid time in the Vuelta, assuming he doesn't knacker himself in Spain the course would look to suit the 22-year old, who's well accustomed to racing in Belgium, especially considering he outsprinted Van Aert to win Brabantse Pijl earlier in the year.

Favourites: Women's Road Race

Annemiek van Vleuten

The strongest Dutch rider in both the Olympic time-trial and road race, 38-year-old Van Vleuten has had two consistently excellent seasons. Perhaps the narrow favourite ahead of her compatriot and current champion Anna van der Breggen, luck and tactics could decide which of them comes out ahead in the road race.

They'll also need to make sure they know how many riders are in the breakaway.

Anna van der Breggen

A double winner last year, Dutch rider Van der Breggen returns as a favourite in her final appearance. Having elected to retire at the height of a stellar career, her Olympic campaign resulted in a bronze medal in the time-trial.

Still looking to create what would be an incredible finale to a remarkable career, she'll have support from a monstrously talented squad and an excellent win at the Giro behind her.

Elisa Longo Borghini

A twin champion in Italy, Longo Borghini has had a strong season without a truly outstanding result. Consistently placing solidly in one-day races and riding to bronze at the Olympics, it's not impossible to imagine she's been gearing up for a late win.

Lisa Brennauer

A consistent performer who scored sixth in both the Olympic road race and time-trial, German rider Brennauer is also a dual national champion. Second at this year's Tour of Flanders, the terrain on offer in Belgium will also suit her.

Favourites: Men's Time-Trial

Filippo Ganna


The defending champion is a powerhouse who should enjoy the flatter course, having struggled in Tokyo. It's not like he lacks form, having won the gold medal in the Olympic team pursuit and helped the Italians set a new world record in the process.

Wout van Aert

He can, and will, do everything. Van Aert's abilities need no explanation, he wins the biggest races on the road and in the time-trials, taking home silver in both races at last year's World Championships and with a home race this time out, he'll absolutely want to go one better.

He's clearly in good shape having won most of the stages at the Tour of Britain and with the TT coming before the road race, he won't have the chance to go too hard beforehand like in the Olympics.

Rohan Dennis

Dennis will likely throw everything at the time-trial and he's had a relatively quiet season on the road, sitting out all of the Grand Tours while scooping up a bronze in the Olympics TT and winning stages against the clock in the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Romandie.

He's been time-trial World Champion twice, so he knows what's required.

Stefan Kung

Kung is a machine. Back-to-back European TT titles, including seeing off Filippo Ganna last weekend, he means business but has plenty to prove with everyone still fancying his Italian counterpart to regain his title.

He was just pipped to the Olympics podium by Dennis, too, and couldn't get the job done at either Tour de France contre-la-montre, looking absolutely devasted when Tadej Pogacar eclipsed him on Stage 5 and leaking 38 seconds to Van Aert on Stage 20.

Favourites: Women's Time-Trial

Annemiek van Vleuten


The biggest time-trial of the year so far went to Van Vleuten in Japan and by quite some margin. She'll get another opportunity here as reigning champion and compatriot Anna van der Breggen will sit this one out.

We'll have to see whether Van Vleuten's dominant climbing ability makes this flat TT a more even contest than the Olympics.

Marlen Reusser

Second on the day at the Fuji Speedway, Reusser is in fantastic form going into this one with a European title, national title and a win in the Simac Ladies Tour TT.

In their most recent matchup though she was beaten again by Van Vleuten in the Ceratizit Challenge time-trial, losing 20 seconds on the 7.3km course, though it was all climbing.

Anna Kiesenhofer

Perhaps it's a bit rude to not include Kiesenhofer among the road race favourites. An Olympic gold medalist in the road race, the Austrian rider was nevertheless better known as a time-trialist until her win in Tokyo. Incredibly still an amateur, she'll be an outside bet and an exciting rider to watch if she rides in the TT.

World Championships 2021 Confirmed Line-ups

Australia

Men's road race:

Michael Matthews
Caleb Ewan
Luke Durbridge
Miles Scotson
Nicholas Schultz
Harry Sweeny
Robert Stannard
Nathan Haas

Women's road race:

Chloe Hosking
Tiffany Cromwell
Amanda Spratt
Sarah Roy
Lauretta Hanson
Brodie Champan
Jess Allen

Belgium

Men's road race:

Tiesj Benoot
Victor Campenaerts
Tim Declercq
Remco Evenepoel
Yves Lampaert
Jasper Stuyven
Dylan Teuns
Wout van Aert

Women's road race:

Shari Bossuyt
Kim de Baat
Valerie Demey
Jesse Vandenbulcke

Men's TT:

Wout van Aert
Remco Evenepoel

Women's TT:

Julie Van de Velde

Canada

Men's road race:

Guillaume Boivin
Pier-André Coté
Antoine Duchesne
Hugo Houle
Benjamin Perry
Nickolas Zukowsky

Women's road race:

Karol-Ann Canuel
Alison Jackson
Leah Kirchmann

Men's TT:

Hugo Houle
Nickolas Zukowsky

Women's TT:

Karol-Ann Canuel
Leah Kirchmann

Czech Republic

Men's road race:

Michael Kukrle
Zdeněk Štybar
Petr Vakoč
Josef Černý

Women's road race:

Jarmila Machačová

Men's TT:

Josef Černý

Denmark

Men's road race:

Kasper Asgreen
Magnus Cort
Mikkel Honoré
Michael Valgren
Mads Pedersen
Andreas Kron
Mads Wurtz Schmidt
Mikkel Bjerg

Women's road race:

Amalie Dideriksen
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig
Emma Norsgaard
Julie Leth
Marita Jensen
Rebecca Koerner
Trine Holmsgaard

Men's TT:

Kasper Asgreen
Mikkel Bjerg

Women's TT:

Emma Norsgaard
Rebecca Koerner

France

Men's road race:

Julian Alaphilippe
Rémi Cavagna
Benoît Cosnefroy
Arnaud Démare
Christophe Laporte
Valentin Madouas
Clément Russo
Florian Sénéchal
Anthony Turgis

Women's road race:

Aude Biannic
Audrey Cordon-Ragot
Eugénie Duval
Roxane Fournier
Juliette Labous
Évita Muzic

Men's TT:

Rémi Cavagna
Benjamin Thomas

Women's TT:

Audrey Cordon-Ragot
Juliette Labous

Germany

Men's road race:

Pascal Ackermann
Nikia Arndt
John Degenkolb
Jonas Koch
Nils Pollitt
Max Schachmann
Georg Zimmermann

Women's road race:

Lisa Brennauer
Kathrin Hammes
Romy Kasper
Lisa Klein
Mieke Kröger
Liane Lippert

Men's TT:

Tony Martin
Max Walscheid

Women's TT:

Lisa Brennauer
Lisa Klein

Great Britain

Men's road race:

Mark Cavendish
Ethan Hayter
Tom Pidcock
Luke Rowe
Jake Stewart
Ben Swift
Connor Swift
Fred Wright

Women's road race:

Alice Barnes
Lizzie Deignan
Pfeiffer Georgi
Anna Henderson
Joss Lowden
Anna Shackley

Men's TT:

Dan Bigham
Ethan Hayter

Women's TT:

Pfeiffer Georgi
Joss Lowden

Ireland

Men's road race:

Sam Bennett
Eddie Dunbar
Rory Townsend
Ryan Mullen

Women's road race:

Megan Armitage

Men's TT:

Ryan Mullen
Marcus Christie

Italy

Men's road race: (final selection on Saturday)

Sonny Colbrelli
Matteo Trentin
Diego Ulissi
Alessandro De Marchi
Gianni Moscon
Salvatore Puccio
Davide Ballerini
Andrea Bagioli
Giacomo Nizzolo

Women's road race:

Elisa Longo Borghini
Elisa Balsamo
Vittoria Guazzini
Elena Cecchini
Maria Giulia Confalonieri
Marta Cavalli
Marta Bastianelli

Men's TT:

Filippo Ganna
Edoardo Affini
Matteo Sobrero

Japan

Men's road race:

Yukiya Arashiro

Women's road race:

Eri Yonamine

Netherlands

Men's road race:

Mathieu van der Poel
Dylan van Baarle
Bauke Mollema
Mike Teunissen
Sebastian Langeveld
Oscar Riesebeek
Danny van Poppel
Pascal Eenkhoorn

Women's road race:

Anna van der Breggen
Annemiek van Vleuten
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak
Lucinda Branda
Ellen van Dijk
Amy Pieters
Demi Vollering
Marianne Vos

Men's TT:

Jos van Emden

Women's TT:

Annemiek van Vleuten
Ellen van Dijk
Riejanne Markus

New Zealand

Men's road race:

Jack Bauer
Tom Scully
Shane Archbold
Connor Brown

Women's road race:

Niamh Fisher-Black
Mikayla Harvey
Ella Harris
Michaela Drummond
Georgia Christie

Men's TT:

Tom Scully

Norway

Men's road race:

Sven Erik Bystrøm
Alexander Kristoff
Vegard Stake Laengen
Odd Christian Eiking
Markus Hoelgaard
Rasmus Tiller

Women's road race:

Katrine Aalerud
Stine Borgli
Emilie Moberg
Anne Dorthe Ysland
Ingvild Gåskjenn

Men's TT:

Andreas Leknessund

Women's TT:

Katrine Aalerud

Portugal

Men's road race:

Andre Carvalho
João Almeida
Nelson Oliveira
Rafael Reis
Ruben Guerreiro
Rui Oliveira

Women's road race:

Daniela Campos
Maria Martins

Men's TT:

Nelson Oliveira
Rafael Reis

Women's TT:

Daniela Campos

Slovenia

Men's road race:

Tadej Pogačar
Primož Roglič
Matej Mohorič
Jan Tratnik
Luka Mezgec
Domen Novak
Jan Polanc
David Per

Women's road race:

Eugenia Bujak
Urška Žigart
Urška Bravec
Špela Kern

Men's TT:

Tadej Pogačar
Jan Tratnik

Women's TT:

Eugenia Bujak

Spain

Men's road race:

Carlos Rodriguez
Alex Aranburu
Gonzalo Serrano
Imanol Erviti
Gorka Izagirre
Roger Adrià
Antonio Soto
Ivan García Cortina

Women's road race:

Mavi García
Ane Santesteban
Sara Martín
Lourdes Oyabide
Eider Merino

Men's TT:

Carlos Rodriguez

Women's TT:

Ziortza Isasi

Switzerland

Men's road race:

Stefan Bissegger
Sylvan Dillier
Stefan Küng
Michael Schär
TBC
TBC

Women's road race:

Caroline Baur
Elise Chabbey
Marlen Reusser
Noemi Rüegg
TBC
TBC

Men's TT:

Stefan Bissegger
Stefan Küng

Women's TT:

Marlen Reusser
TBC

Uruguay

Men's road race:

Eric Fagundez

USA

Men's road race:

Lawson Craddock
Matteo Jorgenson
Brandon McNulty
Neilson Powless
Quinn Simmons
Joey Rosskopf

Women's road race:

Kristen Faulkner
Coryn Rivera
Lauren Stephens
Leah Thomas
Tayler Wiles
Ruth Winder

Men's TT:

Lawson Craddock
Brandon McNulty

Women's TT:

Amber Neben
Leah Thomas