There are several riders that can win a World Championship in Denmark this September, but only one will, and that rider will be for the second year running, Thor Hushovd.
Sure British Tour phenom Mark Cavendish is the fastest man alive, American Tyler Farrar seems well suited to a run for the Rainbow Jersey on this course, and there is always the chance for an opportunist like this years Tour hero and fourth place finisher Thomas Voeckler to steal a victory from the sprinters.
But, this is Thor's race to lose.
Hushovd had a frustrating spring riding in what he felt was a support roll at Garmin-Cervelo, and he never quite found the form that won him a World Championship last fall. But his Tour de France erased any questions as to who is the best sprinter on a challenging course.
Two stage victories on tough courses that saw the likes of Cavendish and Farrar struggling to make time cuts could prove to be a preview of the deceptively hard race in and around Copenhagen, Denmark.
Odds are this race comes down to a bunch sprint albeit a reduced field with little in the way of a lead-out train for the big guns, and this alone lends itself to a power sprinter like Hushovd more than a guy who needs the structure of a controlled sprint like Cavendish.
Who will win the 2011 UCI World Road Championship
Why Cav won't win
The course is too undulating for a sprinter who depends on a team to carry him to the finish. While he has won on different courses over his 20 stage wins at the Tour, he prefers a flat, fast finish that gives his smaller frame the advantage.
No one can match his acceleration on a flat strait finish, and he is rarely beaten when given a lead-out by Mark Renshaw, but this is the Worlds and Renshaw is not riding for his man, he is riding for his country, and that will be enough alone to keep the Manx Missile form winning his first Rainbow Jersey.
Add in the 500 meter finish climb and this is not his race.
Why Thor will win
Hushovd is coming off a fantastic Tour de France and a week in the Yellow Jersey that showed he is not your run-of-the mill classics rider or even sprinter.
Thor won on the first mountain stage, and while there is no way the field lets him get away in Copenhagen, he is the perfect type of sprinter to win a drag race up the final climb.
Is there an escape Ala Lance in Oslo?
Possibly, but the rider best suited is going to be a marked man.
The incredible run in France has marked Thomas Voeckler as one to watch for the World Championships. Not that this was his first run in Yellow, but this year may have changed the little Frenchman into a rider capable of winning the big ones.
No, his legs didn't change, but his head may now finally be able to bring the first rainbow jersey home to France since Laurent Brouchard did in 1997.
Others who could be in the mix
Tyler Farrah - A strong American squad could deliver the first US Rainbow Jersey since Lance Armstrong stole one in Norway nearly 20 years ago.
Tom Boonen - Former World Champion could challenge Thor if it comes to a sprint finish.
Fabien Cancellara - The Swiss Time Trial Ace could double in Denmark, but don't expect him to be given an inch of room to ride off solo.
Philippe Gilbert - The Belgian classics ace is best on hillier courses, and this one may not be quite challenging enough to give him the room h needs for a solo victory, but of the challengers, Gilbert is the one to watch.
Gold Thor Hushovd - Norway
Silver Philippe Gilbert - Belgium
Bronze Tyler Farrar - USA
Wildcard Fabien Cancellara