How to watch the 2021 UCI Road World Championships road race


This year’s UCI Road World Championships are taking place in Flanders, Belgium. The events kicked off on Sunday, September 19 with the elite men’s individual time trial, won by Italy’s Filippo Ganna.

While we love to do a good time trial and we love to know the future stars of the sport in the Junior and U23 events, for us the best races to watch are the elite female and elite road races. The women’s race on Saturday September 25 and the men’s race on Sunday September 26, with the winner of each event earning the right to spend the following year wearing the rainbow jersey as the road racing world champion.

Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know:

The road

Each race starts in Antwerp and heads south-east towards Leuven, the city that hosts the finish. Upon arrival in Leuven, the race should start in earnest as each peloton begins to divide its time between one of two circuits, each blocked by several short, steep, sometimes cobbled climbs.

Arriving from Antwerp, the women will first cover 1.5 laps of what is called the ‘Circuit de Louvain’, a shorter loop that remains mostly within the city limits, then a lap of the ‘Circuit Flandrien ”, A longer loop that takes the race southwest towards Overijse, where riders will find the most difficult climbs of the race. The race then goes back to Louvain, where an additional 2.5 laps of the “Louvain Circuit” will conclude the race. In total, the women will cover 157.7 km and 20 climbs. (Click here to see the full route map.)

The men’s event follows the same basic formula, but covers more laps of each circuit: 1.5 laps of the “Circuit de Louvain”, one lap of the “Circuit Flandrien”, four laps of the “Circuit de Louvain”, one lap more of the “Circuit Flandrien”, then 2.5 laps of the “Circuit de Louvain” for a total of 268.3 km and, not a typo, 42 climbs. (Click here to see the full route map.)

Both races remind us of two Ardennes spring classics: the Brabantse Pijl, which is contested on some of the same roads and climbs; and the Amstel Gold Race, a long race that also includes lots of short, punchy climbs. Runners who traditionally excel in these races should do well this weekend.

How to watch the races

If you signed up on FloBikes ($ 150 / year or $ 12.50 / month) during Spring Classics and never canceled your subscription, you’re in luck: this is the only legal way to broadcast racing in the United States and Canada. Men’s and Women’s events will be available live and on-demand through, the FloSports IOS app, and the FloSports app for Amazon FireTV, Roku, and Apple TV. The FloBikes team will also provide plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and key driver interviews.

The women’s event will start at 6:35 a.m.ET. Log in while you make breakfast, get your kit ready for a Saturday afternoon ride, or, if you’ve downloaded the FloSports app on your phone, during your kid’s soccer practice on Saturday morning. The race is expected to end around 10:45 a.m. ET, with the last 60 to 90 minutes expected to be the most exciting.

Sunday’s men’s race will start at 4:40 a.m. ET and is expected to last until approximately 11 a.m. ET. We will probably activate it around 9am ET for the men to tackle their second and final lap of the “Circuit Flandrien”, then the 2.5 laps of the “Circuit de Louvain” to conclude the race.

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What happened last year

Originally scheduled to take place in Martigny, Switzerland, the races have been moved to Imola, Italy due to COVID-19. Two days after winning the women’s individual time trial, Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands won the women’s road race, attacking 40 km from the finish to become the first rider to win both titles since Jeannie of France. Longo in 1995. Van der Breggen’s compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten was second and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini was third.

On the men’s side, Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe attacked in the final climb and held up against a selected group of pursuers including Belgian Wout van Aert, Swiss Marc Hirschi and Slovenian Primož Roglič. Van Aert finished second to win his second silver medal of the long weekend (he also finished second in the ITT) and Hirschi finished third, ending a fantastic summer in which he took part in a stage of the Tour de France, won the Flèche Wallonne, and finished second in Liège – Bastogne – Liège.

Riders to watch out for

Annemiek van Vleuten during the UCI Road World Championships team time trial on Wednesday 22 September.

Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) – Van der Breggen, the reigning world champion, is expected to take the line for the Netherlands in what is expected to be her last race before retirement, but she will likely ride in the name of van Vleuten, who won the world title in 2019. Winner of the recent Cerazit Challenge de La Vuelta, the 38-year-old is the best competitor, as she takes part in almost all the races in which she takes part.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) – Third last year, Longo Borghini is a specialist for a day who has won prestigious classics such as the Strade Bianche, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda (twice) and the Tour of Flanders. If a non-Dutch rider wins the race, don’t be surprised if it’s her.

Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland) – If it hadn’t been for the misfortune that her career had coincided with the careers of van der Breggen, van Vleuten and Marianne Vos, Niewiadoma would probably have won just about every race on the women’s calendar by now. Instead, she is often forced to settle for podiums and top five, a trend she would like to reverse in Flanders.

Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) – Van Dijk would be the team captain of just about any other nation, but being Dutch she is just one of the team’s many playing cards. Winner of the world individual time trial championship on Monday and the recent European road racing championship, she could capitalize on her team’s incredible depth if rival teams focus too much of their attention on van Vleuten.

94th UCI Road World Championships 2021 Elite Men Itt
Wout Van Aert in the 2021 World Road Championships time trial race on September 19.

Jorge Luis Allvarez PupoGetty Images

Wout van Aert (Belgium) – After finishing second in Sunday’s time trial, van Aert has now won three silver medals in the past two years. Coupled with a silver medal in the Olympic Road Race, we can say that the Belgian rides with a chip on his shoulder. Perhaps the most talented runner in the sport, the only blow against him is the fact that everyone considers him the favorite so he will have few runners willing to cooperate with him or his Belgian teammates. Winner of the Amstel Gold Race in April, it is perfectly suited to a course like this.

Julien Alaphilippe (France) – The defending champion is once again one of the big favorites in the race, and he could benefit from the fact that all eyes will be on van Aert. With a talented team behind him, including Florian Sénéchal and Christophe Laporte, two runners who could create a surprise if they escaped at the end of the race. Alaphilippe has everything he needs to become the first repeating world champion since Slovakian Peter Sagan won three consecutive titles from 2015 to 2017.

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) – After escaping the Olympic mountain bike event, there was a bit of a question mark surrounding the Dutch superstar. But he finally returned to the epic port of Antwerp two weeks ago and won the race in a dominant fashion. Even with only three races to his name since the Olympics, he is a big favorite on a course that suits him perfectly.

Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) – The two-time defending Tour de France champion has enjoyed a quiet return after taking a leave of absence after the Olympics. Still, he and his compatriot Primož Roglič (who just won the Tour of Spain) are contenders on a course they would probably wish to be a little more difficult, like the Liège-Bastogne-Liège course, which the riders have. won this year and last year. , respectively.

Sonny Colbrelli (Italy) – Colbrelli is the perfect dark horse. Winner of the recent European Championship, he continued this success with a victory in the Memorial Marco Pantani. He is in good shape, drives well in Flanders and is a former Brabantse Pijl winner. Colbrelli is the perfect type of runner to upset the big favorites in racing.

Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) – Winner of Brabantse Pijl this year and vice-champion of van Aert in the Amstel Gold Race, Pidcock is another rider to watch. He is young, however, and has run a long season which recently included the Tour of Spain, his first grand tour. He and Ethan Hayter will lead a deep and talented British squad, with both riders hoping to earn the nation their first rainbow jersey since Mark Cavendish won the world title in 2011.

Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) – Without van Aert, Evenpoel would probably be the captain of the Belgium team. Instead, he will be given a freer role, which he could capitalize on if teams let him slip away while focusing too much attention on his teammate.

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