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UCI World Road Championships head to Bergen, Norway this weekend. Here are our top-10 picks for Saturday’s 152.8km elite women’s road race.
10. Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)
As one of the world’s top pure sprinters, Wild isn’t an outright favorite in Norway. The course is likely too hilly for the Dutchwoman. However, a race is only as tough as the riders make it, and there are occasions when world championships are easier than expected due to a tentative peloton. If that’s the case, Wild will be a rider to watch in the sprint.
9. Gracie Elvin (Australia)
Elvin came close to a few major wins this spring at Dwars door Vlaanderen and Tour of Flanders. In both races, she ended up second. Her results through the second half of the season have been modest, but the 28-year-old could be an underdog favorite if she finds herself in the right breakaway.
8. Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands)
Recently crowned world time trial champion van Vleuten is opposite Wild when it comes to the course. Bergen’s circuit probably isn’t hilly enough for the Dutchwoman, who won La Course atop the Col d’Izoard. However, she’s clearly got winning form and is surely brimming with confidence now that a rainbow jersey is hanging in her Norwegian hotel room. The Netherlands has many cards to play. It might do well to send van Vleuten up the road for another time trial.
7. Elizabeth Deignan (Great Britain)
The 2015 world champion had a strong start to 2017, with three second-place results in Ardennes week. More recently, Deignan was second in La Course and won GP de Plouay. The Brit isn’t a pure sprinter, but if the field gets whittled down on the hilly Bergen circuit, she’d be a good wheel to follow in the rush to the line.
6. Chloe Hosking (Australia)
Like Wild, Hosking is a top sprinter who would light up a bunch finish if the peloton takes a tentative approach to this world championships. The Aussie, who won La Course on the Champs-Elysees in 2016, won stage 2 at Tour of Norway in August and was second in stage 4 at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour. Plus, Hosking might be racing with something to prove after being left off Australia’s initial worlds team. She appealed, as did Rachel Neylan, and both were given spots on the squad.
5. Lotta Lepisto (Finland)
Lepisto is having the best season of her career with six major victories. Plus, the Finnish champion recently won the Crescent Vargarda Women’s WorldTour race, so her form is coming around. The 28-year-old does well on hilly circuits with fast finishes — she won Dwars door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem this spring. Her only weakness might be her team, which is not as deep as others in the race.
4. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
Much like van Vleuten, van der Breggen is more at home on hilly courses. She swept the Ardennes classics and won the Giro Rosa this year. However, don’t forget that this year’s Giro was far less mountainous than other editions. The Olympic champion stayed in the mix on many of the tricky finishes and having just won a silver in the worlds TT, she is powerful enough to get away and stay away.
3. Coryn Rivera (United States)
As an American publication, we were reticent to put Rivera in the No. 1 spot on this list … What if we jinxed her? Based on her win at Tour of Flanders, the Californian is a top favorite in Bergen. The course’s moderate climbing should be no problem. Her fast finish will be key. The only question is whether the tactics will play out in her favor. To win worlds — or at least earn a medal — Rivera needs a moderately sized group to come to the line for a sprint. She’ll have a few options on the American squad to support that goal, but they don’t match the firepower of the Netherlands.
2. Jolien D’hoore (Belgium)
Belgian D’hoore is coming off a sprint victory at the Madrid Challenge at the end of the Vuelta. That flat circuit is far easier than the Bergen course, but make no mistake, D’hoore can handle some climbing. She’s won consistently all season long on a variety of courses, ranging from Omloop van het Hageland on home turf in February to China’s Tour of Chongming Island in May and to the Giro Rosa in Italy this July.
1. Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
Wait, Vos? Yep, we’re serious, and here’s why. Not only does she have the world championship and Olympics pedigree, she’s hitting her form at the right moment. Vos recently won the Ladies Tour of Norway and stage 1 at the Lotto Belgium Tour. She’s also the reigning European champion. The Bergen course is great for her combination of climbing chops and sprinting savvy. Plus, as we’ve been alluding to, the Dutch have an embarrassment of riches in the women’s world championship race. Vos should be able to sit back in the peloton while other favorites try long-bomb attacks. If the race comes back together on the final lap (which a number of teams will want), Vos will be ready to pounce.