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Tough circuit confirmed for Imola World Championships

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The elite men's road race at the 2020 World Championships

The elite men's road race at the 2020 World Championships (Image credit: UCI)
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The 28.8km circuit for the Imola Worlds.

The 28.8km circuit for the Imola Worlds. (Image credit: UCI)
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The elite women's road race at the Imola Worlds

The elite women's road race at the Imola Worlds (Image credit: UCI)
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The profile of the men's and women's time trials at the World Championships.

The profile of the men's and women's time trials at the World Championships. (Image credit: UCI)
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The men's and women's time trial route at the Imola Worlds.

The men's and women's time trial route at the Imola Worlds. (Image credit: UCI)

The UCI has released full details of the route of the 2020 Road World Championships in Imola, with the men’s road race set to feature almost 5,000 metres of total climbing. The Worlds, which were moved from Switzerland to Italy, will take place from September 24-27.

For the first time since Ponferrada in 2014, the men’s and women’s road races will both take place entirely on one circuit. The elite men will cover nine laps of the tough 28.8km circuit around Imola for a total distance of 258.2km, while the elite women will cover five laps for a total distance of 143km and some 2,800 metres of total climbing.

The 28.8km circuit starts and finishes on the Enzo e Dino Ferrari automobile circuit, and it features two major difficulties – the climbs of Mazzolano (2.8km at an average gradient of 5.9 per cent, with maximum gradients of 13 per cent) and the Cima Gallisterna (2.7km at 6.4 per cent, with stretches at 14 per cent). The steep, 1.3km mid-section of the Cima Gallisterna has an average gradient of 10.9 per cent. The summit comes 12km from the finish line.

The final 3km of each lap will take place on the automobile circuit, which hosted stage finishes of the Giro d’Italia in 2015 and 2018. Much of the rest of each 28.8km lap will take in narrow and undulating roads through the vineyards in the hinterland of Imola, located in the central Emilia-Romagna region.

“It will be a difficult course: riders will need to cope with repeated efforts, there will not be much recovery between the two difficulties, and the second will be followed by three kilometres of descent on a winding road,” said Italian national coach Davide Cassani, a native of the Emilia-Romagna region. “Team tactics will be important to get the leaders to the end. The finish will be solo or in a small group.”

The 2020 Worlds were originally due to take place in Aigle and Martigny, but the event was moved owing to the restrictions on public gatherings in Switzerland due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the Italian city of Imola had beaten La Planche des Belles Filles in France to the right to host a scaled-back version of the Worlds in late September. The racing programme will be limited to four days and four events – the elite men’s and women’s individual time trials and road races. There will be no junior and under-23 World Championships in 2020.

The Imola Worlds take place in the week following the conclusion of the Tour de France, kicking off with the elite women’s time trial on Thursday, September 24, with the elite men’s time trial taking place the next day.

Both the women’s and men’s time trials take place on the same 31.7km course, where the total altitude gain is 200 metres. Like the road race, the time trials start and finish on the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

“It will be a very fast circuit,” said Cassani. “Apart from two small uphill sections in the last five kilometres before entering the Imola Autodrome, it will be ideal for the pure specialists. We should see averages of over 50 kilometres per hour.”

The Worlds continues with the women’s road race on Saturday, September 26 and concludes with the elite men’s road race the following day.

It will be the second time that Imola, situated 40km north of Bologna, has hosted the World Championships. Vittorio Adorni famously delighted the tifosi by winning the rainbow jersey after a 90km solo effort in 1968.

The first 6km on the 2020 circuit are the same as the final 6km of the circuit used when Adorni became world champion.

2020 UCI Road World Championships schedule

  • September 24, 2020: Elite Women ITT, 31.7km
  • September 25, 2020: Elite Men ITT, 31.7km
  • September 26, 2020: Elite Women RR, 143km
  • September 27, 2020: Elite Men RR, 258.2km