Canada has turned the tables around when it comes to qualifying spots for the UCI Road World Championships. The nation will field a record quota of riders at the Richmond Worlds held from September 19 to 27 in Richmond, Virginia, starting a total of 24 riders: six elite men, six elite women, four under-23 men, four junior men and four junior women.
It is the largest number of elite men to start Worlds since 1992 in Benidorm, Spain, where they also started six riders. Their success in garnering six starting spots this year was due to their strong placing on the UCI America Tour. The nation is ranked second with 756 point, behind Colombia that have 819.95 points, and ahead of Venezuela with 663, Argentina with 658 and the United States with 518 points.
In addition, individual riders have had strong performances in the UCI America Tour, with their strongest placing from Optum's Michael Woods, who is currently ranked second overall with 169 points, behind leader Ecuador's Bayron Guama de la Cruz, who has 198 points. Woods recently won a stage at the 2.HC Tour of Utah and placed second overall, and earlier in the year he was second at the 1.2 Philadelphia International Cycling Championships and won a stage at the 2.2 Tour of the Gila.
Part of that success is because a number of Canadian riders race for US-based teams that compete in many of the UCI races across North America. There are a series of Canadian riders on US-based teams, alongside Woods, that have high individual places including Optum's Guillaume Boivin in 10th, who won a stage of the 2.2 Tour de Beauce and had multiple top 10 finishes across UCI ranked races in North America. In addition, Optum's Ryan Anderson was in 33rd and Team SmartStop's Rob Britton in 35th, in large part for his overall win at the Tour of the Gila. Canada-based UCI team Sibler Pro Cycling's riders Ryan Roth and Matteo Dal-Cin are currently ranked 15th and 29th, respectively.
As far as teams go, Optum is the highest ranked team on the UCI America Tour, followed by Team SmartStop in sixth and Silber Pro Cycling in ninth. All those teams are home to Canadian riders.
"I was brought in Cycling Canada for the great relationships I maintained with the riders and teams and, we worked hard to cultivate collaboration and open communication this year," said Men's Road Program Manager Kevin Field.
"That strategy obviously worked. The teams, directors, riders and Cycling Canada were well aligned this year. Riders and teams knew what we were trying to do, why, how it benefited us and them. Everyone knew where we stood this year along the way, and that certainly helps the riders stay focused on goals."
Other nations to have qualified six riders for the elite men's road race based on strong rankings in their respective Continental tours are the US, Slovenia, Ukraine, Russia, Denmark, Poland, Norway, Iran and Algeria.