You’ve got to feel for the reigning world champions.
Thanks to the disruption caused by the coronavirus and cancelation of dozens and dozens of races, the current crop of road world champions had the bad luck of winning just months before the breakout of a world pandemic.
Annemiek van Vleuten raced all of 16 days in her stripes. Mads Pedersen sprinted to second down the Champs-Élysées on Sunday in his final day in the rainbow jersey. Time trial champion Chloe Dygert, who was racing track this spring in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games, didn’t even get to wear her world champion jersey once in a race.
So how about a little bit of charity for these world champions?
Every race on the calendar since March has been rescheduled, canceled or postponed, except one — the 2020 road world championships.
The road worlds remain on their fixed spot on the calendar, which was supposed to be after the conclusion of the Vuelta a España. Instead, it came after the rescheduled Tour de France. So according to that logic, the worlds should have been slotted in on the calendar in November.
Instead, with the road races this weekend in Italy, riders like Van Vleuten and Pedersen were robbed of the chance to race in the stripes in some of the most important races of their careers during the northern classics, which have been shoved back until October.
Tough luck, some might say. But there is an alternative.
Here’s a very simple and charitable proposal: why not let them race in the world champion’s jersey in the rescheduled Paris-Roubaix on October 25?
There could be one very clear caveat. If the newly crowned world champion from this weekend decides to race in the Ronde van Vlaanderen next month, well, it’s their right and honor to wear the stripes.
But if a skinny puncheur like Marc Hirschi wins the worlds, and decides not to race Paris-Roubaix on October 25, I say let Pedersen ride in the rainbow jersey.
And the same goes for van Vleuten. If she bounces back from her broken wrist and decides to race the first edition of the women’s Roubaix, also on October 25, and the new world champion isn’t racing — assuming van Vleuten doesn’t defend her title and assuming she’s up to racing the cobbles — why not let van Vleuten have the honor?
It’s been a crazy year for cycling. And seeing the rainbow jersey on the pavé would be a fitting tribute to the tenacity and resilience that the world champion’s jersey represents.
The UCI has quietly let it be known that the above scenario will not be happening.
But come on, UCI, a goodwill gesture is just what the peloton could use right now.