Cycling World Championships 2013: Men's Road Race Preview and Results Prediction
The Cycling World Championships in Tuscany comes to a climactic end with the men’s road race on Sunday.
This year’s hectic Florence schedule has already seen Tony Martin become only the second rider in history to win three consecutive world time trial titles, as reported by Nick Bull of Cycling Weekly.
The speeding German overcame challengers Sir Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellera to capture glory across 57.9 kilometres, but who will be elevated to such lofty heights in the much-anticipated road race?
Let’s take a look at the course and contenders.
Men's Road Race: Route Preview
Riders will have little time to enjoy the Tuscan sun along a challenging route. Climbs at Fiesole, Salviati and Trento are set to test the strength and stamina of competitors who have endured a packed schedule in recent weeks.
Solace can be taken from a docile road to Fiesole. As reported by Cycling Weekly, the 4.37 km section provides views of a Roman amphitheatre, but riders have little time to soak up such picturesque surroundings.
Reasonably short sections via Salviati and Trento make up the journey to Florence, with two steep climbs eventually levelling the route out after 600 metres.
Riders can expect to struggle up a further 200 metres during the Trento section, shooting across a train track and heading towards a hectic sprint to the finish.
Here is a look at Florence's climbs in more detail:
Can Chris Froome Delight the British?
While Wiggins failed in his quest to land the world time trial title, British fans have the exceptional talents of Chris Froome to support in the road race.
This year’s Tour de France winner has faced increased media focus since capturing the biggest win of his career, and can he handle the pressure of trying to land the rainbow jersey?
Geraint Thomas, Froome’s Sky teammate, believes the 28-year-old has exactly what it takes to secure another major championship win. Thomas backed his colleague in a recent column for BBC Sport: "This is a race that suits him - it is long, at just over 270km, and the climbs are tough as well, especially after six hours of racing."
Who will win the Men's Elite Road Race?
With major players such as Wiggins and Mark Cavendish amongst the British representation, it would be foolish to bet against those wearing the Union Jack.
Those looking away from Froome have plenty of talent to choose from. Cancellara has already proven his credentials in Italy this year with a third-placed finish in the time trials, but it's the inclusion of Vincenzo Nibali that will get many excited.
The Italian came agonisingly close to winning the Vuelta a Espana, but across the entire competition, it always seemed like he doubted his chances of ultimately fending off Christopher Horner. Nibali is often in contention to win and just needs a shot of confidence towards the latter stages to take the prize.
Defending champion Philippe Gilbert will be confident of leaving Italy with another victory. The Belgian racked up his first win of the season during La Vuelta's Stage 12 and is amongst the favourites to be crowned champion this year.
With Wiggins' silver medal disappointment weighing down the showing of Britain's riders, Froome will be itching to thrust Sky to a famous win in Florence.
While Nibali should be his main threat, particularly on home soil, expect the Italian to once again succumb to the pressures of competing for a major prize.
Froome has a recent history of powering through difficult sections and will utilise his team to triumph in the Florence finale.
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