This year's UCI Road World Championships have enjoyed warm, dry conditions so far but heavy rain, thunder and lightning is forecast for much of the day on Sunday for the elite men's road race. Forty-five minutes of rain is expected to fall mid-race, with forecasters claiming there is a 95 percent probability of inclement weather.
The effects of the conditions on the outcome of the 272km race could be devastating, ruining the chances of success for many but boosting those of the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) who excel in the rain thanks to their excellent bike handling skills.
BMC sports director and former Great Britain Under 23 national coach Max Sciandri lives close to Florence and predicts that rain will have a major influence on the road race.
"We don’t often get rain that falls all day in Tuscany, it'll more likely be showers with possible thunder and lightning. Whatever happens, it'll make the race much harder and affect the chances of several riders," he told Cyclingnews.
"People like Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara will be okay and probably even like the conditions. I think it also lifts Vincenzo Nibali back up the list of favourites. He's a great bike handler and will be a lot more comfortable on the circuit.
"However it could affect people like the Spaniards and the Colombians who are used to racing on dry roads and the sun. It could also affect Gilbert's chances. I'd also say rain would be a huge blow for someone like Pozzato. I don’t honestly think he's on form anyway and don't think he will do anything."
Sciandri tips Fabian Cancellara to win, whatever the conditions.
"People in the peloton are saying he's very strong and very determined. When he's like that, he's almost unbeatable," Sciandri warned.
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