Canadian races drawing top fields with Richmond worlds on horizon

Many top riders will race in Canada next month with the UCI Road World Championships taking place in Virginia.

With the rainbow jersey looming on the horizon in Richmond, Virginia, the Canadian UCI WorldTour events are seeing their best-ever lineups for the pair of one-day races.

Many of the rainbow jersey favorites decided to skip the traditional pre-worlds approach via the Vuelta a España, and will race in Quebec (September 11) and Montreal (September 13) instead.

Former world champs Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), reigning world champ Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx), and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) are among the confirmed starters.

Since the Vuelta moved from April to September (now August) on the racing calendar in 1995, most eventual world champions raced the Spanish grand tour before winning the stripes. It was considered the best way to put some racing miles into the legs without being too punishing.

Many riders cited the long distance involved from traveling from Europe to the United States ahead of the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, as a major motivation for choosing to race in Canada.

Another factor is that the Vuelta has become progressively more difficult over the past five years, and riders are beginning to shy away from the demands of Spain in favor of a different approach. After nearly 15 years of delivering the world champion, the past two winners bypassed the Vuelta.

In 2013, Costa raced the Canadian one-days, while Kwiatkowski raced the Tour of Britain ahead of winning the worlds in Ponferrada last year.

How that plotline plays out remains to be seen. Such pre-worlds favorites as Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) have opted for the Vuelta, though neither will likely finish the entire three-week race.

Other Canadian starters include Tony Martin (Etixx), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Adam and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Here is a preliminary start list revealed Wednesday by race organizers among 17 WorldTeams and four wildcards (Europcar, Bora-Argon 18, Drapac Pro Cycling, and Team Canada):

Michal Kwiatkowski (Pl)
Tom Boonen (B)
Rigoberto Urán (Col)
Tony Martin (G)
Julian Alaphilippe (F)

Lars Petter Nordhaug (N)

Jon Izagirre (Sp)
Adriano Malori (I)

Alexander Kristoff (N)

Michael Rogers (Aus)
Roman Kreuziger (Cz)

Jakob Fuglsang (Dk)

BMC Racing
Philippe Gilbert (B)
Greg Van Avermaet (B)

Orica GreenEdge
Simon Yates (GB)
Adam Yates (GB)
Christian Meier (Can)

Ag2r La Mondiale
Romain Bardet (F)
Alexis Vuillermoz (F)
Jan Bakelants (F)
Hugo Houle (Can)

Warren Barguil (F)
Simon Geschke (G)

Rui Costa (P)

Tony Gallopin (F)
Tim Wellens (B)

Trek Factory Racing
Bauke Mollema (Nl)

Arthur Vichot (F)
Arnaud Demare (F)

Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit)

Lotto NL-Jumbo
Robert Gesink (Nl)

IAM Cycling
Matthias Brandle (A)
Matthias Frank (Swi)

Thomas Voeckler (F)
Bryan Coquard (F)

Bora-Argon 18
Sam Bennett (Irl)

Drapac Professional Cycling
William Clarke (Aus)

Team Canada
Guillaume Boivin (Can)
Ryan Anderson (Can)