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Check out the routes for the revised UCI Road World Championships

Joseph Delves
14 Sep 2020

Imola motor racing circuit in Italy to host 2020 Worlds after Covid-19 forced last-minute switch from Switzerland

Having been forced to relocate at short notice, this year’s UCI Road World Championships will now take place in and beside the Imola racing circuit in Italy.

The Worlds were originally scheduled to take place in Switzerland before a change in that country’s coronavirus regulations forced the UCI to look elsewhere for a venue. With the cancellation of the original programme announced on 12th August, Imola was quickly chosen, partly because the motor racing circuit’s extensive infrastructure should allow for the increased safety measures now needed.

Crucially, the quick change of venue also means the races will still take place on their original dates, from the 24th to 27th September.

Now fans worried that the use of the famous motor racing circuit might make for stilted bike racing will be comforted by the recently released routes.

Located in the Emilia-Romagna region, in the north-east of Italy, all races will take place on the same 28.8km lap. However, only the first and last kilometres of this will be ridden on the Imola circuit itself, with the rest of the route covering multiple small climbs via the region’s undulating and narrow roads.


Imola 2020 routes

The men will cover 258.2km and in the process will climb almost 5,000 metres. Racing the same lap, the women will cover 143km and around 2,800 metres.

'The loop, to be covered nine times by the men and five times by the women, will include two difficult sections – the Mazzolano and Cima Gallisterna climbs – which combined total 5.5km of climbing with an average gradient of 10% and passages reaching 14%,' explained a UCI spokesperson.

'The first six kilometres of this circuit, which will suit puncheurs and climbers, corresponds with the final six kilometres of the 1968 edition of the UCI Road Worlds.'

While the climbs now featured won’t be as significant as those planned for the original event in Martigny, Switzerland, the overall distance and cumulative ascent have been kept relatively similar.

This somewhat comparable profile should minimise disruption for riders who’ve been training specifically for the event.

By comparison, the course for the time-trials is both short and relatively flat. To be covered once by both the men and women, its route measures 31.7km with an altitude difference of just 200 metres. This leaves the race similar in profile, if somewhat shorter than its original length of 46km.

'It will be a very fast circuit,' explains Davide Cassani, manager of the Italian national team. 'Apart from two small uphill sections in the last five kilometres before entering the Imola Autodrome, it will be ideal for pure specialists. We should see averages of over 50kmh.'

Unfortunately, these moves to minimise disruption won’t be much comfort to junior and under-23 riders, as the World Championship races in these categories won’t be held this year. Instead, the reigning champions will retain their titles until 2021, when it’s hoped the events can be safely reprised.


Favourites in the road race

Instead, it’ll just be the seniors competing, with Mads Pedersen and Annemiek van Vleuten looking to retain their titles in the road race.

However, despite a decent season, Pedersen is less favoured than more established riders such as Wout van Aert and Jullian Alaphilippe.

In the women’s race, Van Vleuten’s current run at the Giro Rosa means she’s more widely expected to retain her title – if she can see off challengers including Marianne Vos and the low-key but incredibly quick Chloé Dygert Owen.