By Jeff Jones
The 2006 World Road Championships are being held in Salzburg, Austria this year between September 20-25. Split into two disciplines (time trial and road race) across three categories (U23 men, elite women, elite men), the championships will decide six rainbow jerseys in the city of Mozart. Both time trial and road courses look to be challenging enough to decide worthy world champions.
Wednesday, September 20 will see the championships kick off with the elite women's and U23 men's time trials. The races start on Schwarzstrasse and finish in Mirabellplatz, with the women's being run over 26.12 km and the U23 men over 39.54 km. The outward leg features two climbs, and takes the riders from 422m up to 575m. The return run is mostly downhill, but heads back into Salzburg via a different route.
In the women's race, defending champion Karin Thürig (Switzerland) will be up against the likes of Zulfiya Zabirova (Kazakhstan), Nicole Cooke (Great Britain), Nicole Brändli (Switzerland), Kristin Armstrong and Christine Thorburn (USA), Christiane Soeder (Austria) and Judith Arndt (Germany), with the perennial Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (France) also a likely top finisher.
The U23 men will also feature the top three from last year: Mikhail Ignatiev (Russian Federation), Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukraine) and Peter Latham (New Zealand), with Lars Boom (Netherlands), Dominique Cornu (Belgium) and Mark Jamieson (Australia) ones to watch.
The men's race will run on Thursday, September 21, and will pit the top testers in the world against each other over a longer course of 50.83 km. Look for the in-form David Millar (Great Britain) to challenge triple world champion Michael Rogers (Australia) and try to put the icing on the cake after his two year suspension for admitting to doping. Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara was close to Millar in the Vuelta's first time trial, and is definitely a contender in Salzburg.
After a day's rest on Friday, the racing resumes Saturday with the elite women's and U23 men's road races. The road course is 22.2 km long, starting and finishing in Mirabellplatz. At Zilling after 8.4 km, the top of the first climb (545m) is reached, and is followed by a short descent and then another sharp climb/false flat up to Elixhausen (km 13.2). The final 9 km of the circuit is mostly downhill, and attacks on the last two climbs could well decide the race.
The women will do six laps of the circuit for a total of 132.6 km, the U23 men do eight laps for 176.8 km. On Sunday, the elite men race over 12 laps for a total of 265.2 km, and it's always considered the main event of the World Championships.
Cyclingnews will be covering each race of the UCI world championships live from start to finish. The opening race is the women's TT at 12:00 CEST (Europe)/6:00 EDT (USA east)/3:00 PDT (USA west)/20:00 AEST (Australia east).