The 2005 season hasn't even ended but already news is leaking from the parcours of the 2006 World Championships, which will be held in Salzburg, Austria. This year, a Belgian sprinter/classics rider won the famous rainbow jersey, but in 2006, the Belgians will struggle to find a competitive squad for the road race - said 1976 Tour de France winner Lucien Van Impe, who now directs MrBookmaker.com.
"The World Championship in Salzburg 2006 is not for a Belgian rider," Van Impe told Belgian Het Nieuwsblad after reconnoitring the parcours. "This is for a complete rider. I'm thinking of Alejandro Valverde, Alexander Vinokourov and Paolo Bettini."
In the famous city of classical composer Mozart, the circuit to race twelve times will be 22.15 kilometres long, which amounts to 265.8 km in total - just a few clicks shorter than the road race in Madrid this year, where all of the above mentioned played a part in the event's finale, and Tom Boonen took the victory in the end. Spaniard Alejandro Valverde was particularly close to the honours, getting second for the second time after 2003 in Hamilton, Canada.
"There's a three-kilometre-long climb that will be crucial. Halfway through the race, it's certainly going to explode on that hill," continued Van Impe, who won the Polkadot jersey of best mountain rider at the Tour de France in the '70s, so he should know. "A sprint is excluded. I can't see how the bunch could reel in a breakaway on such a parcours," he added.