The 2022 Road World Championships in Wollongong released an overview of their courses on Friday, with the elite road races traversing the coastline before taking in a city circuit and a loop that takes riders up into the escarpment with a climb of Mount Keira.
The time trials, which open the competition with both the elite women's and men's events on Sunday, September 18, will take place on a city circuit that leads riders sweeping past the beach as they head toward the finish line.
“The courses are exciting and challenging, and will provide ample opportunity for fans to immerse themselves in the event and see the world’s best cyclists in action,” UCI President David Lappartient said in a statement.
“The UCI is pleased to have been working closely with the local organising committee over the past 12 months to create courses that are complex, technical, and will separate the true champions from their peers."
The full details of the races, including distances, number of loops around the city and Mount Keira circuits, and elevation gains, are yet to be released. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic – which led to lengthy lockdowns in some parts of New South Wales plus international and domestic border closures – have hindered the finalisation process. Australia's border, however, has now been re-opened and quarantine requirements eased.
"Although the global pandemic has limited our ability to visit Wollongong to date, the UCI looks forward to visiting in the first quarter of 2022 to see first-hand the extensive planning by the organising committee and confirm all race details, which will then be released to the international cycling community," Lappartient said in a statement.
The 2022 Wollongong event is the second Road World Championships to take place in Australia, the first being Geelong in 2010. Like Wollongong, that event delivered a course that embraced the coastline and incorporated some short but challenging climbs, which is somewhat a hallmark for international races in Australia.
The 2022 Road World Championships, however, will be delivered in considerably different circumstances, with the race being the first international cycling event since the start of 2020 – following two years of pandemic induced cancellations for the Santos Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – thus providing an extremely high-profile reintroduction of Australia to the world of cycling.
“Wollongong is a city that is rich in diverse, natural assets including a coastline that encompasses remarkable cliffs, crystal clear water, and golden sandy beaches which contrasts with the abundant escarpment,” Wollongong 2022 Chair Dean Dalla Valle said in a statement.
“These features will shine on the broadcast and be an appealing drawcard for spectators, the UCI, and the athletes who have not competed in Australia for several years."
The 2022 Road World Championships, which finish with the elite men's road race on Sunday, September 25, is expected to draw 300,000 spectators and more than 300 million viewers globally.
The focal point for all the courses across the 11 rainbow jersey events is in Wollongong, a coastal city located just 80 kilometres south of the centre of Sydney, the nation's largest capital city. All races start and finish in Wollongong – which is located on Dharawal country – with the exception of a remote start for the elite men and women's road race. These two races start in the small town of Helensburgh, which sits about 250 metres above sea level and is about halfway between Wollongong and Sydney.
The course from Helensburgh takes the elite road races back to Wollongong, via the coast, and into two circuits. The city circuit, much of which will also host the time trials, and the Mount Keira loop, which unsurprisingly takes the course inland and to climb which this section of the route is named after.
The elite road races work their way from the hamlet of Helensburgh, on the border of the Royal National Park, to the coast and the picturesque – and appropriately named – Sea Cliff bridge. Working south down the coast to Wollongong, which is over 30 kilometers from the start line, the course then opens into the city circuit and the Mount Keira loop. We don't yet know how many loops of each they will do but we do know some of the features they will encounter.
The Wollongong city circuit is a technical route that goes from the centre of town, through the suburbs of Gwynneville, Mount Ousley, Mount Pleasant, Fairy Meadow and North Wollongong before heading back toward the beachside finish line. It may not be named after a climb, but that doesn't mean there aren't ascents tucked into the route. The climb of Mount Ousley Road to Mount Pleasant delivers an average gradient of 7.7 per cent and a maximum of 14 per cent, reaching an elevation of 119 metres.
The Mount Keira loop takes the race up into the escarpment, reaching a peak elevation of 473 metres after an 8.7km climb that has an average gradient of five per cent, but reaches as high as 15 per cent. The challenging climb with sub-tropical surrounds gives way to a quick descent through Kembla Heights, Cordeaux Heights and out to Port Kembla steelworks, the crucial economic building block of the city.
The road races for the U23 and junior categories will play out on the city circuit.
The time trials will also be run on a city circuit with some modification from the road race route, including cutting short the section which heads up Mount Ousley Road onto Mount Pleasant.
The route runs past the Wollongong Botanical Gardens, sweeps through Mount Ousley and back toward the coast via Fairy Meadow. After running parallel with the popular Blue Mile shared cycle pathway – from Thomas Dalton Park and past the University of Wollongong Innovation Campus to Stuart Park by the beach – there is a sprint along Cliff Road and past the lighthouse at Flagstaff Hill, taking riders through to the finish line across from Wollongong beach on Marine Drive.
The courses are similar across the categories although the elite time trials extend further north with an up and back section toward Towradgi.
As is usual, the first medal events will be the races against the clock and the last the elite road races. However, what does differ from the usual script is that the elite men's and elite women's time trials will together open the proceedings – the first time in the history of the UCI Road World Championships that both these time trials will be raced on the same day and over the same distance.
One change to the schedule that isn't evident at this stage, but many will be hoping could still be to come, is an U23 women's category. The prospect that the category could be introduced was raised at Flanders, even if the road race was run within the elite women's race, rather than as its own separate event.
|Saturday 17 September||Training|
|Sunday 18 September||Women Elite Time Trial / Men Elite Time Trial|
|Monday 19 September||Men Under 23 Time Trial|
|Tuesday 20 September||Women Junior Time Trial / Men Junior Time Trial|
|Wednesday 21 September||Team Time Trial mixed relay|
|Thursday 22 September||Training|
|Friday 23 September||Men Junior Road Race / Men U23 Road Race|
|Saturday 24 September||Women Junior Road Race / Women Elite Road Race|
|Sunday 25 September||Men Elite Road Race|
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