Cycling World Championships Betting Preview: Evenepoel and Van Aert to fight for world domination
2 August 2023
Belgian duo Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert are among the hot favourites to win rainbow jerseys in both the men’s road race and time trial at the 2023 World Cycling Championships in Scotland. Defending champion Evenepoel, 23, won the hilly one-day Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa on Saturday to underline his return to form after the disappointment of withdrawing from the Giro d’Italia in May with COVID despite leading the race.
A super-strong Belgian team also features all-rounder Van Aert, who missed the end of the Tour de France to attend the birth of his second child, and the in-form sprinter Jasper Philipsen, who won the Tour’s green jersey after picking up four stage wins in July. Evenepoel and Van Aert have clashed in the past, but their perceived inability to work together – which came to a head on home soil in the 2021 Worlds when neither made the top 10 – seemed to be water under the bridge last year.
Evenepoel soloed to glory in spectacular fashion at the Wollongong Worlds in Australia, striking out with 25km remaining to win by more than two minutes. Holding back in the event of a sprint, Van Aert settled for fourth place.
Starting in Edinburgh, the men’s road race is 271km long and includes 3,570m of vertical ascent. Two early climbs – in the Carron Valley (4.4km at 3.4%) and at Crow Road (5.6km at 4%) – will test the legs, but the real difficulties come in 10 laps of a punishing 14.3km finishing circuit in Glasgow. The circuit is crammed with punchy short climbs and is highly technical, with constant twists and turns, and no fewer than 42 tight corners every lap.
A narrow chicane with 750 metres to go and two lefthand turns before the home straight should make for a tense final kilometre, with a small group or a reduced bunch sprint the likely outcome – unless someone can replicate Evenepoel’s heroics from Down Under.
It’s a challenging parcours that will also suit the Danish team, which boasts the 2019 world champion Mads Pedersen, fast finisher Magnus Cort, climber Mattias Skjelmose and the versatile Kasper Asgreen. Other names to watch are Britain’s Fred Wright, the former double champion Julian Alaphilippe and his fellow Frenchman Christophe Laporte, the Polish veteran (and 2014 champion) Michał Kwiatkowski, Switzerland’s Marc Hirschi and the Australian Michael Matthews.
A late addition to the startlist, Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar should spice the race up – although it is unlikely that the climbs are steep or long enough for a livewire looking to bounce back from his Tour de France disappointment. The most mouth-watering scenario for many cycling fans might be a strong showing from Van Aert’s nemesis, the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel. Both rivals are multiple cyclocross world champions, but neither has yet to take a gold medal on the road.
For the first time, the 2023 World Championships will be a “super event” with all cycling disciplines – including road races, BMX, MTB and track racing – fighting for their world titles in the same week in Glasgow (3-13 August).
Remco Evenepoel @ 6.8
Christophe Laporte @ 21
The men’s road race takes place on Sunday 6 August and the women’s road race on Sunday 13 August.
Belgians to double up in time trial?
No one expected Norway’s Tobias Foss to walk away with the individual time trial rainbow jersey in Wollongong – not least Evenepoel, whose face was a picture of disbelief as Foss crossed the line to soar into the hotseat. In the event, the gold medal went to the 25-year-old Norwegian who had never previously won a race outside his own national championships, while Swiss powerhouse Stefan Küng took silver and Evenepoel bronze.
While the 47.8km course to and from Stirling only includes 352 metres of climbing, flat-track bully Foss is unlikely to defend his crown in Scotland. An opening 12km is flat and fast, with riders expected to hit speeds up to 65km/h with a tailwind. But nasty hills around the villages of Kippen and Cambusbarron will take their toll ahead of the tricky 400m cobbled climb up to the finish line at Stirling Castle.
It’s a route tailor made for Belgian duo Evenepoel and Van Aert, while the powerful Danes – Asgreen and Mikkel Bjerg – may also fancy their chances, along with Portugal’s João Almeida, Australia’s Jay Vine, and Küng
Wout van Aert
The men’s individual time trial takes place on Friday 11 August, one day after the women’s ITT on Thursday 10 August.
2 August 2023