FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Given the course in Norway’s west and the weather conditions, this 2017 world championship in Bergen on Sunday once again suits classics riders with a sprint.
Slovakian Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has the best chance of winning if we are to go by the bookmakers. The parcours is exposed to the coastal winds, dotted with cobbles and features a small climb in and around the former Viking port city. The forecast now shows sun and 65°F, but Norwegians know that could easily change to side winds.
“It’s a nice circuit, the weather can make a difference, but wet or dry, the many kilometers will make it tough,” said Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
“It is a course that offers possibilities: it’s technical, with little cobbles, there is a bit of everything in it and the final as well. There is a small slope about 500 meters from the finish where you can position yourself, so I’m happy about it.”
Sagan won his first world title with an attack on the final cobbled climb in Richmond, Virginia, in 2015. He returned in 2016 on the flat roads of Doha, Qatar, to repeat the feat. He does not seem to care what shape the 19.1-kilometre circuit takes and says he does not want to preview it.
“We have to do the lap 11 times or 12,” Sagan said. “That’s a lot of time to see it. It’s a possibility [that I’ll ride it beforehand], but I don’t want [to].”
Once the riders complete the southbound leg along the west and head east to Bergen, they ride a twisty circuit around the city and its suburbs, which includes the 1.5-kilometer Salmon Hill.
“The circuit is important, I thought that it was going to be harder, actually,” Sagan’s coach at team Bora-Hansgrohe, Patxi Vila explained. “We all know Slovakia is small, so that’s always a main thing. It’s not like Belgium, etc. You have to find teams with the same goal and try to work together.”
“It wouldn’t be ideal for me to escape in a small group because I will almost always be the slowest if it ends in a small sprint,” freshly crowned time trial champion, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) told De Telegraaf. “Salmon Hill could be the chance, and I think there are plenty of other points on the circuit to take action.”
Polish cyclist and 2014 world champion, Michal Kwiatkowski has had one of his best years yet riding for Team Sky. He won Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo and the Clásica San Sebastián, and turning around to be Chris Froome’s and Team Sky’s MVP at the Tour de France.
“Taking into account the races I have won this season, of course, I would prefer a harder course, but you have to adapt to what is,” he told Interia Sport. “The last climb is almost eight kilometers to the finish line, which makes it more likely the peloton will arrive mostly together than an escape rider. If rain comes, then it will shred the peloton even more, and I’d like that, but you have to be ready for every scenario. Also to finish with a large group.”
“Even before coming to Bergen, I hoped it’d be a hard course,” Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “You don’t need to ask for it because it’s already hard enough and technical. Also, the weather is going to have a big say in the race.”