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World Championships: Johan Museeuw backs Dumoulin for TT; says road race is wide open

Jack Elton-Walters
19 Sep 2017

Former World Champion gives his thoughts on this year's races

Photo: Johan Museeuw by Danny Bird

'I think Tom Dumoulin has prepared well, Team Sunweb already won the Team Time Trial so it will be difficult for Chris Froome to beat Dumoulin,' says Johan Museeuw when we meet to discuss the UCI World Championships which are already underway in Bergen, Norway.

Now retired, Museeuw's palmares is well known and includes three wins in the Tour of Flanders, the same number at Paris-Roubaix and the 1996 World Championships Road Race.

It's this year's edition of the road race at the World Champs that the Lion of Flanders has more to say about when we sit down in the cafe of the Tour of Flanders museum.

'This year it will be more open because the circuit is not so hard,' he tells me. 'It's hard, it's difficult, but you don't have to be a climber. We have more riders with a chance of winning.'

Pressed to pick a favourite he first selects an obvious name, but can't be sure of the final result because of his belief that the race could be won by any of a number of riders.

'Everybody thinks about Peter Sagan and if he can do it three times; he will be ready to win three times, but it's difficult. Especially three times consecutively.'

The parcours of the race in Bergen has been described as Classics-like and many expect the winner to come from a reduced bunch sprint or an even smaller, select group.

Musseeuw's thoughts on the race are similar, and he cites his own victory as an example of this.

'I think Greg van Avermaet will be in good shape. I think if you're a Classics rider you'll have a good chance over there.

'I won in Lugano in '96, the circuit was not easy but it was not hard. I wasn't a climber but I was ok for one day.'

Sticking with the Belgian theme, naturally, the 51-year-old tips Oliver Naesen as a potential surprise winner.

'Maybe Naesen, he's in good shape, but he has to work for van Avermaet. He could go in an early breakaway and maybe he can win.'

Overall, Museeuw believes this year's men's event will be open and aggressive, with predicting a winner a difficult call due to the kind of racing the course should facilitate.

'It's more open this year so it's difficult to say we have three favourites, we have more than three favourites.

'Maybe we can say there are 20 or 30 guys who can win the Worlds.'

Even if the winner is a surprise, he still thinks they'll need to be a WorldTour rider to still be there in the final.

'It's always a big rider who wins because we're talking about 260k, that's long, that's a whole day, and especially at the end of the season everybody is a little bit tired and not fresh any more.'