29 Aug | 09:31 AM

What is a Road Race?

What is a Road Race?

A Road Race is a mass start event with the first person crossing the line declared winner. The first professional World Championship Road Race took place in 1927 at the Nürburgring in Germany and was won by Italian, Alfredo Binda. To find out more about the different road races at this years Road World Championships click here.

Unlike a Time Trial, cyclists participating in a Road Race all set off at the same time. The start is naturalised before racing begins at kilometre zero.

Riders take part in national teams with the number of riders per nation being determined by the number of points that country as amassed in the official UCI rankings throughout the year. The top 10 nations are given eight places in the event, those nations ranking from 11th – 20th are given six places and so on.

The distance for each Road Race varies during the championships depending on age and gender, with the shortest distance in Yorkshire being 91.5km and the longest maxing out at a staggering 284.5km. Each Road Race will incorporate the Harrogate circuit, an undulating 14km loop that circulates around the finish line on Parliament Street.

The majority of the participants will ride in the bunch known as the “peloton” while others will be expected to break away from them at the front of the race. The “breakaway” riders from different nations will then work together in the attempt to reach the end of the course ahead of the peloton. However, more often than not, the breakaway is caught before the finish as each nation’s star riders are thrust into contention as they go wheel-to-wheel for the prestigious rainbow jersey.

Road Races can be held over different terrain, flat courses will tend to favour the sprinters while hilly courses may favour climbing specialists or all-rounders.

It’s difficult to say who may have the best opportunity to win in 2019 but here we have some predictions from some of cycling’s media experts.


British Success

The first taste of British success in the Road Race was back in 1960 and it was Yorkshire’s very own Beryl Burton who took home the gold medal that year, the third year the event was held for the women. She became world champion for a second time in 1967 along with a silver medal at the 1961 edition.

Meanwhile it was the late, great, Tom Simpson who was tearing up the scene in the men’s pro peloton during the same period. Success at the 1965 World Championships saw Simpson don the rainbow jersey in the same year he won the iconic Italian Il Lombardia a month later.

Fast forward to 1982 where Great Britain would taste success again in the Road Race. It was the last time the championships were hosted in Great Britain and it was Manchester’s Mandy Jones who took home the title against the world best.

Nicola Cooke was next in line for a year in the rainbow jersey, coming after three trips to the podium in the previous six years. Success in 2008 at the championships meant Cooke was the first cyclist, male or female, to become Road World Champion and Olympic Champion in the same year.

The Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish became the second British World Champion 46 years after Tom Simpson. He took the sprint in Copenhagen over Australian, Matthew Goss and third placed André Greipel of Germany.

It’s fitting that Britain’s most recent World Champion is from Yorkshire. After having baby Orla last September, Lizzie Deignan has very much worked her 2019 calendar around a home championships, in the attempt to repeat her 2015 success.

23 days ago
Written by Alex Hooker

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