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World Championships could be heading for cobbles and bergs in 2020

Joe Robinson
20 Mar 2018

Drenthe and Groningen in line for 2020 Worlds and the local terrain could offer some exciting racing

The UCI World Championships could be heading to the cobbles in the north of the Netherlands as the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen look likely to host the events in 2020.

As reported by local Dutch newspaper Dagblad van het Noordenthe two provinces are close to securing the first World Championships on Dutch soil since Valkenburg in 2012.

This comes alongside reports that Venice has had to withdraw its bid due to a lack of financial support from the local government.

It was originally expected that the 2020 championships would have started in the famous St. Mark's Square before tackling a 20km circuit on seven occasions. 

Dutch press has suggested for Drenthe and Groningen to host the Worlds there will need to be a budget in the region of €15million, which the national government is expected to subsidise.

What should we expect from a Dutch worlds?

The regions of Drenthe and Groningen, like most of the Netherlands, are painfully flat and offer little in the way of lumpy obstacles that cause interest within a race. 

The exception to this is the VAMberg, a man-made 40m hill of rubbish that acts as a centre piece in the annual women's WorldTour race, the Ronde Van Drenthe. Although only 750m, it averages 6% with alleged maximum gradients that scale above 20%. 

This small hill that sits just south of Assen would make sense as the concentration of multiple laps of a circuit, similar to courses of the past. 

Besides the use of the VAMberg, the Drenthe region could offer some of its many cobbled sections for the men's and women's races to tackle.

Alongside the four ascents of the VAMberg, the Ronde Van Drenthe race also tackled eight sections of cobbles ranging from 300m to 4km in length. 

While these may not offer the same perilous challenge as the pave found in northern France they will certainly add an ingredient to the race that promotes attacking riding. 

Of course, the inclusion of the VAMberg and Drenthe's cobbled sections are all speculation as no official route has been presented to the public and the UCI's avoidance of cobbles in the past, which could continue. 

Beyond the use of obstacles such as the VAMberg and cobbled roads, one factor that could be decisive in 2020 is the wind. A largely flat and exposed landscape, the north of the Netherlands can see howling crosswinds that can rip races to pieces via various echelons, which can be more exciting than steep climbs and bumpy cobbles.

Although two years away and with no route announced, it is hard to not perceive this as the perfect opportunity for Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to snatch a record fourth road World Championship, assuming he has not already done so in Innsbruck or Harrogate.