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World Championships: 'We could see a surprise winner' Sean Kelly predicts an open road race

Joe Robinson
20 Sep 2017

Kelly predicts that more than 12 riders have a chance at victory in men's road race

The World Championships was just about the only major one-day race that Sean Kelly did not win in his illustrious career, that and the Tour of Flanders.

Besides these two, Kelly managed to dominate one-day racing throughout most of the 1980's and has since been remembered as one of the most prolific riders of all time. 

Kelly came close to the rainbow jersey, taking bronze in 1982 behind Giuseppe Saronni and Greg LeMond, but never managed to cross the line first. 

The fact that Kelly failed to ever take the win shows that being favourite does not always guarantee victory and the 61-year-old sees this happening this year. 

'It is very hard to predict. We could see a surprise winner. There are 10 to 12 guys maybe more who could very possibly win.'

'There are so many different descriptions of the course. Look at Cyrille Guimard (French Team Director), he isn't taking a sprinter which suggests a selective race,' adding, 'Yet some are saying that the sprinters will get round.'

Discussion of what the course will bring has been a hot topic before the race, and Kelly believes the true nature of the parcour will only be known during the race itself.

'The weather really depends on who will do well. If its a nice day then the sprinters could get round. If its cold we could get a surprise outcome.' 

'Look at the Rio Olympic Road Race, we thought that would be for climbers and Greg Van Avermaet won. Not until you ride the course will you know what the racing will bring.'

A rider that has not struggled to take the World Championships is Peter Sagan, being double defending champion. However, despite this record, Kelly believes Sagan will struggle to make it a hat-trick of victories. 

'Will Sagan have the team to control the race? If nations decide to go from four or five laps out, we could see the race decided there.' Kelly said.

'It will be interesting to see other classics riders like Van Avermaet, punchy guys with a sprint and how they race it. To win, Sagan needs to hope the race comes down to final two laps, then he can do his racing.'