I don’t want to sound like a party pooper, but the way I see it, two riders should dominate all comers in the elite road races at the UCI Road World Championships.
I really can’t go past Tadej Pogacar and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Both have had incredibly successful seasons on the UCI World Tour and both arrive in Wollongong brimming with confidence.
Stan Sport’s exclusive coverage of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships begins on September 18 with every race streaming ad-free, live and on-demand
“What about the other contenders?” I hear you ask.
World cycling’s biggest names have made a beeline to the NSW south coast and there’s no doubt the pool of talent on display ensures the final weekend of competition will be one to remember.
Of course one cannot discount the likes of Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel or Australia’s Michael Matthews, all of whom have every right to be in contention to chase down the prestigious rainbow jersey in the elite men’s event.
Leading cycling expert Michael Tomalaris will host Stan Sport’s coverage of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong
As for the women, how dare I overlook the likes of Marianne Vos, Ellen van Dijk or any other member of the super strong contingent from the Netherlands?
To put it simply, both Pogacar and van Vleuten have shown they are head and shoulders above their respective competitors in 2022.
Both currently do no wrong whenever they jump on two wheels.
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Despite their variance in age (Pogacar will turn 24 on September 21 while van Vleuten is three weeks shy of her 40th birthday), I believe the pair’s winning trajectory will continue.
Did you see the way ‘The Pog’ triumphed at the Grand Prix de Montreal last Sunday?
The way he started his finishing sprint from a long way out to leave van Aert in the Slovenian’s wake?
It was sheer power and determination. over a Belgian rival who impressed by winning the green jersey competition at the Tour de France.
I’m starting to wonder whether a heavy recent program will catch up with van Aert.
Pogacar is on a different level, and despite finishing runner-up to Jonas Vingegaar at this year’s Tour de France, the course for the tough one-day event in Canada was not unlike what riders can expect when tackling the punchy terrain around Wollongong on September 25.
For van Vleuten, the way the ‘Queen of Dutch cycling’ tore apart all comers at the inaugural Tour de Femmes, the women’s Tour de France, in July will live with me for quite a while.
Nobody could match the climbing strength of AvV on the penultimate stage on the Ballon d’Or in the Vosges Mountains.
It was a jaw-dropping performance.
Either way, I still have to pinch myself in realizing cycling’s biggest annual carnival is being held in our own backyard.
When Geelong hosted the 2010 edition it left an indelible memory for those of us fortunate to be in attendance during that fabulous week.
Wollongong will supersede the afterglow of 12 years ago.
It’s a glorious city, brimming with natural beauty and a driving cosmopolitan vibe.
And while many of the global television audience, estimated at 300 million, may have difficulty pronouncing the host city’s name, I’m sure “Wollongong” will roll off the tongue when the dust settles after what promises to be eight fabulous days of international cycling .
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