As the world's best riders compete for rainbow jerseys at the 2016 UCI Road World Championships, the UCI unveiled the courses for next year’s Worlds, with the punishingly hot and relentlessly flat Doha to be followed by the icy fjords and hills around Bergen, Norway.
The most eye-catching aspect of the event - back in the traditional September slot - is the men's individual time trial, which will feature a summit finish at Mount Floyen with gradients of 10 per cent.
The 31km course – the shortest in the history of the event – features two laps of a rolling circuit, but the riders will then peel off to take on the 3.4km climb of Floyen, at which point they will almost certainly have to switch their time trial machines for a road bike.
The climb goes from sea level to 300 metres, averaging 9.1 per cent, and a steep funicular railway is the standard means of transport for tourists wishing to take in the views from the top.
Usually the reserve of rouleurs – or at most power riders who can absorb hills and rolling terrain – the Worlds time trial has never seen such severe uphill gradients.
"Bergen 2017 will offer a spectacular time trial circuit never seen before at the UCI Road World Championships," said former world champion Thor Hushovd, who's an ambassador for the event.
"The climb to finish at the summit of Fløyen will be extraordinary, with an average gradient of 9.1 per cent that will keep everyone guessing about the outcome of the race until the very end."
It's only the elite men, however, who will be taking on the climb, with the elite women - and the junior and U23 categories - doing a variation of the opening circuit.
They will still, however, have to get out of the saddle as their 21km course features a climb not included on the men's loop – though it is shorter, less severe, and comes in the middle of the course. At 1.4km long, with an average gradient of 7.2 per cent, and named the Birkelundsbakken, it should still have an impact on the outcome.
While this year's Worlds have been raced on flat roads that are amenable to bunch sprints, Bergen will see a return to a more traditionally 'open' course where the short climb of Salmon Hill will play a central role.
All the road races will take place on the same 19.1km loop, though the elite men and junior men will start out in Rong, covering 40km and numerous of the famous fjords before they hit the circuit.
The gently undulating loop borrows much from the time trial course, with a detour to take in Salmon Hill, a 1.5km climb which averages 6.4 per cent but features early pitches of nearly eight per cent. Positioned just shy of the half-way mark on the loop and cresting 10km before the finish line, it will help the whittling-down process before acting as an ideal launchpad for a race-winning move.
After the 40km intro, the elite men will cover 12 laps to bring up a total race distance of 276.5km – the longest Worlds course since 1981. The elite women will cover eight laps for a distance of 152.8km.
"The road race route will be technical, with hills, rapid descents, cobbles, and a lot of corners, which will challenge the riders on many levels," said Hushovd. "It's a race which many riders chasing the rainbow jersey will feel they can win."
The team time trials, comprised of elite men's and women's trade teams, will be raced on an A-to-B course rather than a circuit, and both will cover the same distance of 42.5km. The start line is in Ravnanger, and the course makes its way south across the fjords before sweeping into Bergen for the finish.
"We are delighted with the routes put forward by the Bergen 2017 Organising Committee. These will be one of the most spectacular UCI Road World Championships ever, particularly with the finish of the Men's Elite Individual Time Trial at the summit of Fløyen," said UCI president Brian Cookson.
"We are expecting impressive television pictures with the fjords, the sea and the mountains as a backdrop to this event that everyone is already looking forward to."
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