YORKSHIRE 2019 – EXPERT PREDICTIONS
With less than a month to go until the biggest names in cycling descend on Yorkshire for the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, we’ve challenged five figures from the cycling media to stick their necks out and give us their early predictions for who will win the Elite Men and Women Time Trials and Road Races. We’ve tasked them to give us both their favourites and also a dark horse for each category too.
Our panel consists of ITV’s voice of the Tour de France Ned Boulting, sports journalist & The Cycling Podcast co-host Richard Moore, Sports presenter & commentator Laura Winter, The Daily Telegraph’s cycling correspondent Tom Cary and Peter Cossins, the author of Full Gas, the cycling book of the year at the 2019 Daily Telegraph Sportsbook Awards, and of The Yellow Jersey.
ELITE WOMEN TIME TRIAL
- 30KM course from Ripon to Harrogate
- Tuesday 24th September
- Defending Champion: Annemiek van Vleuten (NED)
The proposed route is perfectly suited to time trial specialists who can manage their efforts over this fast and open course. A flat opening 12km will get the riders up to speed before the road undulates gradually on the approach to Harrogate. The concluding Harrogate circuit will favour those who are able to push big power through their pedals before emptying the tank on the uphill drag to the finish.
Our panel were in unison with one pick here, with all of them mentioning defending World Time Trial Champion Annemiek van Vleuten and the strong possibility of her defending her title in Yorkshire. Peter Cossins sees a Dutch dominance here with van Vleuten’s teammates Anna van der Breggen and Ellen van Dijk rounding off the podium.
PC: The Dutch filled all three medal places last year and look set to repeat that astonishing achievement.
LW: You wouldn’t bet against defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands. She has shown supreme time-trialling prowess this year, winning the uphill Giro Rosa time trial and besting teammate Anna van der Breggen by just under a minute.
Tom Cary picked Chloe Dygert-Owen as his favourite with van Vleuten as his dark horse. Van Vleuten is going for a third consecutive title but watch out for Dygert who is on the comeback trail after almost a year out with concussion and knee issues. The American is hugely talented.
Dark Horse pick:
LW: Juliette Labous. The young French rider has excelled on the roads of the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire before, finishing seventh in 2018. She has also picked up the best young rider jerseys at both the Women’s Tour of California and Giro Rosa this year, as well as finishing in the top five in the Giro Rosa TT. Team Sunweb’s Labous might be in the mix.
Elsewhere Ned went for Italian Elisa Longo Borghini, Richard went for Dutch rider Lucinda Brand, with Peter going for German Lisa Kein.
ELITE MEN TIME TRIAL
- 54KM course from Northallerton to Harrogate
- Wednesday 25th September
- Defending Champion: Rohan Dennis (AUS)
Crosswinds could prove a factor right from the start as the route heads in a south-westerly direction out of Northallerton, and a short, sharp ascent on the outskirts of Masham should see early time gaps emerge. A fast section follows as the riders pass into Risplith, but from then on there is barely a flat metre of road. Despite being gradually sapped of their energy, the riders will have to keep something in reserve before one last blast into Harrogate and up to the finish line on Parliament Street.
Unlike with the women’s Time Trial, there’s no clear choice from our panel here, with a variety of riders selected.
NB: Geraint Thomas.
LW: Fresh from second place at the Tour de France, and with subsequent celebrations behind him, Geraint Thomas is now aiming for a tilt at the rainbow bands in the time trial. Stating he is more mentally ready to race again than he was last year post-Tour, he is already signed up for Deutschland Tour, the hilly time trial could really suit the Welshman.
RM: I think Geraint Thomas has a good chance of winning the time trial, but I'm going for Primoz Roglic because he has been the best in this discipline this season. Much will depend on how he comes out of the Vuelta a España, though.
PC: Defending champion Rohan Dennis will be hard to beat, assuming he’s back to his best form after quitting the Tour halfway through due to a fall-out with his team.
TC: Rohan Dennis. Very hard to know how the TT specialists will fare but it would be some story if Dennis managed to defend the title he won last year after his mysterious abandonment at the Tour de France in July.
Dark Horse pick:
LW: Chad Haga. The American excelled in the time trial at this year’s Giro d’Italia, winning the final stage in Verona after a torrid tour for Team Sunweb and could be one to watch for the USA. It was an emotional debut World Tour win for Haga, whose career was almost cut devastatingly short after a horror training crash with a car in 2016.”
TC: Geraint Thomas. Thomas will be roared on every kilometre of the way.
Here Ned went Roglic, Richard selected Thomas de Gendt & Peter went for Tony Martin.
ELITE WOMEN ROAD RACE
- 150KM course from Bradford to Harrogate
- Saturday 28th September
- Defending Champion: Anna van der Breggen (NED)
The peloton will roll out to the north of Bradford and sample some of the delights of Shipley and Otley before the first categorised ascent comes on Norwood Edge. This winding ramp might distance some of the weaker climbers who will look to restore parity as the race continues to Pateley Bridge. The climb of Lofthouse is awaiting them there and we may well see the frontrunners coming to the fore before they crest the summit here. A flat section before Ripon precedes the undulating approach into Harrogate where three laps of the circuit will prove a real war of attrition on a technical circuit which leaves very little room for error.
LW: It’s hard to look past the Dutchwoman and defending champion, Anna van der Breggen to repeat her victory on a course which suits her and is akin to the Ardennes classics on which she – and teammate Annemiek van Vleuten thrive. But victory for either requires the Dutch to get their team tactics spot on, something they famously failed to do, throwing away their chance at the European Championship title last year in Glasgow. Yorkshire’s finest Lizzie Deignan has timed her return from having baby Orla last September specifically with a home World Championships in mind, and you cannot count the 2015 world champion out, especially after victory at the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour earlier this year showed a true resurgence of form.
TC: Marianne Vos. The Dutch have so many options - Vos, Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Chantal Blaak etc. You feel the winner is most likely to come from within their squad.
NB: Marianne Vos. Eight wins in 2019, including one in Yorkshire, sees Boulting also go for the three-time World Road Race Champion.
RM: Annemiek Van Vleuten can do the double, though much depends on how hard and attritional the road race is. If it's hard, she can win it. Nobody is better than her than training for a specific target and, having won the time trial twice, and crashed in last year's road race, the road title is the one she really wants (along with a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics next year). I think she'll come to Yorkshire in the kind of form she had at the Giro Rosa, which she won in very dominant fashion.
PC: Anna van der Breggen with Amanda Spratt and Lizzie Deignan rounding off the podium. The Dutch team is so strong it’s hard to look beyond their ranks for a winner. The length and difficulty of the course should suit defending champion van der Breggen.
Dark Horse pick:
LW: Alison Jackson. Ninth at Amstel Gold this year, and a stage win and second overall at the Women’s Tour of Scotland, Canadian Alison Jackson is a rider coming in to red hot form, and she may just spring a surprise on the field on a punchy parcours, especially with the likes of super domestique Karol-Ann Canuel in the Canadian ranks.
TC: Lizzie Deignan. Deignan on home roads 12 months after giving birth would be an incredible story.
Elsewhere Ned & Richard both went for Demi Vollering with Peter going for Vos.
ELITE MEN ROAD RACE
- 285KM course from Leeds to Harrogate
- Sunday 29th September
- Defending Champion: Alejandro Valverde (SPA)
Riders will wind their way into the Yorkshire Dales before a trio of significant climbs come one after another. Splits could well emerge if the pace is pushed at the head of the peloton. A battle to regain contact should then develop on the fast approach to Harrogate. Seven laps of the tough and technical Harrogate circuit will ensure only the strongest survive for a chance to claim the iconic rainbow jersey.
PC: Julian Alaphilippe with Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan rounding off the podium. Julian Alaphilippe has achieved every one of his objectives so far this year and is definitely the man to beat.
LW: Mathieu van der Poel. All eyes are on the versatile Dutchman who – not content with dominating the world of cyclocross and mountain bike, has taken rather definitively to winning races on the road as well, and he is the current bookies’ favourite too. And don’t just take my word for it – watch the finish of Amstel Gold….
TC: Mathieu van der Poel. Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe would probably be safer picks but the former has not been at his sparkling best this season and the latter finished the Tour in bits. Van der Poel looks as if he can win any race he enters right now.
NB: Wout van Aert. Like Laura & Tom, Ned sees a cyclo-cross turned road star sealing the rainbow bands in Harrogate.
RM: Michael Valgren. I've gone for a wild card purely because all my other choices seem quite predictable. Valgren has had a dreadful season. But there have been one or two small signs that he might be coming round. Hardly enough to suggest he'll be a favourite for the men's road race, but I'm going to say Valgren – you never know.
Dark Horse pick:
LW: Ben Swift. The Brit is well and truly back with a bang after a horror crash in February which saw him hours from death in intensive care. He made a full recovery – and some – winning the National Road Championships in style. He will have the added motivation of claiming the rainbow stripes on home soil, and Great Britain’s chances of a home world title will be boosted with the likes of 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas riding in support.
Peter also selected Yorkshireman Ben Swift as his dark horse pick, Ned went for 2018 European RR Champion Matteo Trentin and Tom selected reigning U23 Road Race and Time Trial star Remco Evenpoel.
A lot can change between now and September 21st when Yorkshire 2019 officially gets underway, but thanks to our experts for their early predictions. Let us know who you’re predicting will win in Harrogate by sending through your picks to us on Twitter or Facebook.
You can see Ned Boulting, along with David Millar, and Richard Moore along with his Cycling Podcast colleagues, at three special shows being put on at Harrogate’s Royal Hall during the championships. All information can be found here http://yorkshire2019.co.uk/royalhall