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Editors’ Picks: Who will be world champion?

The expert VeloNews editors pick their favorites to win the men's and women's UCI world road race championships.

Here are our rapid-fire predictions for the UCI World Road Championships men’s and women’s elite road races. The VeloNews editorial staff will make predictions for major races throughout the season.

John Bradley, editor in chief
Picks: Kirsten Wild and Peter Sagan

I think it will come down to a bunch sprint, and I think Wild will have the extra gear over her rivals when it does.

Almost a coin toss between Sagan and Cavendish, but I’ll give just a hint of an edge to Sagz, due to the race length and the potential for wind. Plus, a performer like Sagan will find extra motivation from the very rare opportunity to go for a world championship repeat.

Spencer Powlison, news director
Picks: Chloe Hosking and Nacer Bouhanni

The way Hosking dispatched the best in the world at La Course was impressive. I think she’ll uncork a similarly strong sprint on Saturday to win Australia’s first elite women’s world title. (Yep, I’m surprised they’ve never won one too.)

The fiery French sprinter Bouhanni has had an up-and-down season, but I think he’ll cap it off with a career-making victory. That is if he doesn’t go down on one of the roundabouts, or punch someone, or get relegated for erratic sprinting.

Fred Dreier, executive editor
Picks: Chloe Hosking and Mark Cavendish

Hosking won the sprinters’ stage of the Tour of Qatar this year, and is one of the fastest finishers in the women’s peloton.

Everyone else is going to pick Sagan, so I’m going with Cav. Contrarians rule (watch, everyone is going to pick Cav now).

Chris Case, managing editor
Picks: Chloe Hosking and Tom Boonen

In a sprint finish, there are few faster than the Aussie. She took a bunch sprint in the Giro Rosa. She won La Course. She was second at the Madrid Challenge at La Vuelta.

Boonen. That dude loves the desert. Case in point: He’s won 22 stages in the history of the Tour of Qatar. One more big win for Tornado Tom.

Caley Fretz, senior editor
Picks: Kirsten Wild and Mark Cavendish

Across the 15 stages of the Tour of Qatar that Wild has contested since 2012, she has nine wins. Think about that for a moment. The Dutchwoman has an unmatched record in the desert. Plus she was sixth in the TT, proving her form is good. There are threats, certainly — Chloe Hosking, Jolien D’hoore, defending champion Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead) to name a few.

I picked Peter Sagan on a recent VeloNews Show, but I’ve changed my mind. The wind forecast looks relatively mellow and watching the finish of Thursday’s U23 men’s race made it clear that a well-timed lead-out is going to be vital in the elite race. Sagan will be train-hopping. I’m therefore torn between Cavendish and Andre Greipel, but will go with Cavendish because of the potential for infighting in that stacked German team.

Andrew Hood, European correspondant
Picks: Elizabeth Deignan and Michael Matthews

The heat, smaller teams, and aggressive tactics (and maybe a decisive crash or two) should blow up the pack, and bring home a reduced bunch sprint. Many of the faves will be caught snoozing, opening the door for the ever-savvy Elizabeth Deignan to defend her crown in a blaze of glory.

Despite everything suggesting this will be an “easy” worlds, Qatar’s desert heat will suck the life out of everyone after 250km. The race will be about survival, covering the right moves, positioning in the final few laps, and keeping something left in the tank for a sprint. My heart says Boonen, just because I’m a sucker for those fairytale endings, but my head says it will be Bling’s time to shine. Matthews wins in a bike throw in a very tight sprint finale versus Sagan and Greipel.

Kristen Legan, associate editor
Picks: Chloe Hosking and Mark Cavendish

Hosking is the new best sprinter and is still flying at this point in the season. Plus she has a strong team to keep her out of trouble and get her to the line first.

If Wiggins gives him a big hug before the race, Cav will be unstoppable.

Gregor Brown, reporter
Picks: Chloe Hosking and Mark Cavendish

This has truly been Cavendish’s comeback season and at the worlds, like at the Tour de France, he will show that we should never write him off. He has repeatedly showed in the Tour of Qatar that he can handle the wind and sprint to the win, so there is your proof.

Hosking’s fast as she showed in La Course and the Madrid Challenge, and recently again in the GP Bruno Beghelli. She’s experienced, she won the final stage of the Tour of Qatar this February. And since she’s found Australia, the heat should not be as much as a factor for this scrapper.

Dane Cash, web editor and reporter
Picks: Kirsten Wild and Mark Cavendish

Wild knows how to win in Qatar, and this is a course that suits her skill-set. With her WorldTour-level RideLondon win at the end of July, the 33-year-old Dutchwoman proved that she’s still as strong as ever. Her rivals will have a hard time matching her combination of top speed and experience.

For a sprinter’s race, this is a surprisingly tough one to call, but I like Cav’s chances. Though Marcel Kittel may be a bit faster when at peak form, we haven’t seen much of that lately — and one-day races are not his forte anyway. His German teammate and fellow contender André Greipel, on the other hand, can run hot and cold, and historically has had problems with tricky finishes. Cavendish can wind up his sprint while weaving through traffic like few other riders in history, so I expect him to do just that on the Pearl circuit this weekend.