Rise and shine, it's time for the coveted rainbow jersey to be decided in the men's elite road world championships. We're in Imola and the race is about to start in roughly 40 minutes. Stick with us for complete live coverage.
The race is 258.2km in length, and as we saw yesterday in the women's race there are two decisive climbs during each lap - the 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).
Riders are currently hovering around the start and there's a huge pool of talent here when it comes to picking a winner. To help you out, we've selected ten riders to watch in the race. Here they are!
We had the women's race yesterday, and it was another show of complete domination from the Dutch. They won their fourth title in four years and went first, second and fourth on the day. You can read our conclusions from the race, just here.
The Tour de France champion is here and he means business. He's of course teaming up with the rider he beat at the Tour, Primoz Roglic to lead his nation at the Worlds. Will they go 1-2 today? Just imagine.
A new world champion will be crowned today, and that means it's the end of the road for Mads Pedersen in the rainbow jersey - for a year anyway. He's written this personal and touching blog about his time in the jersey.
One of the pre-race favourites, Julian Alaphilippe has given his assessment ahead of the race:
“We’re outsiders but that doesn’t mean we don’t have ambition. The Slovenians and many others are capable of making the race hard and winning, but I think it will be a completely different race to the Tour. The Worlds is always raced differently. There are really a lot of riders who can win so it’s hard to single out a favourite,” said Alaphillipe, who leads a French team without Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, crash victims at the Tour.
And on Friday night we talked to Michael Matthews about his hopes of making the podium. He wasn't down to ride the Worlds until the course changed from Switzerland to Italy.
"If I'm not on a good day, and it turns into a real day for the climbers, then we have Richie here with us to take over," explained Matthews. "The climbs here are steeper and harder than we had in Yorkshire [at the 2019 Worlds road race, where Matthews took 24th place out of just 46 finishers]. The climbs last year were short and punchy, whereas here they are longer and more suited more to the pure climbers. The climbs here go up in steps, which is quite hard.
"The course last year suited me, but it also suited a lot of guys who race in a similar way. The conditions that we ended up having definitely didn't suit me," Matthews continued, remembering the wet and cold in Yorkshire last year.
Sepp Kuss is here and will lead a small but decent USA team. Powless is also on the start list for the riders in the stars and stripes.
Greg Van Avermaet stopped for a quick natter with the media. He's a dark horse today and it's a rare day in which he won't line up as the main favourite in his team, and he could benefit from being the foil for Wout Van Aert. The CCC rider has an excellent chance today.
Woods leads Canada at this championships and he looked good during Tirreno earlier in the month. He came so close a few years ago and the course does suit him but he'll probably need to finish alone because he can't carry a ride like Alaphilippe or Wout Van Aert to the line.
All our riders are on the start list with the Danes lined out at the front. No defending champion this year but with Fuglsang they have a massive favourite in their ranks.
And we'll have a neutralized lap around the circuit to begin with as we see a number of riders in arm warmers and a few extra layers.
On paper Nibali leads Italy but his form has not been great since racing re-starts. The home nation do have the in-form Diego Ulissi in their ranks, however and some are tipping him for the rainbow jersey.
The complete start list, for today, is just here. The riders have just completed a lap of the circuit and are about to move out onto open roads.
We are racing and from the gun we have riders trying to attack. A rider from Romania is in the mix as the bunch lines out.
Polychronis Tzortzakis (Greece) is the next rider to give it a go with a punchy little attack but no luck and we're back together again.
Daniil Fominykh (Kazakhstan) kicks things off again and race radio has told us that Lutsenko hasn't started.
We have a group of seven and they're clear with 253km to go.
And our leaders have immediately opened up an extensive gap as the peloton sit up. The lead is currently at 2'33 with 249km to go.
Our seven leaders are: Koch (GER), Traeen (NOR), Friedrich (AUT), Fomynkh (KAZ), Arashiro (JAP), Grosu (ROM) and Castillo (MEX).
The seven leaders have a 3'17 lead with 244km to go as the race starts to climb. Back in the bunch and the pace is pretty relaxed.
The reason Lutsenko isn't on the startline today is because of a positive COVID-19. We'll have more details on that later this morning.
The gap has moved up to 3'53 with 242km to go as the bunch tackle the first climb of the race.
There are plenty of fans along the side of the road already. They're in it for the long haul and seem to be loving it at the moment. I think I even heard the Italian national anthem on one of the corners.
The flags along the side of the road are not billowing nearly as much as they were for the women's road race yesterday. It is a much more still day at the moment, but much cooler too.
Slovenia have been very present at the front of the peloton so far today. Everybody will be looking at them to do something today, given the nation's performance at the Tour de France. We'll have to wait and see how messers Roglic and Pogacar from the Tour.
Situation 229.2km to go
The gap has been hovering around the four-minute mark for a while but the peloton has allowed the leaders a bit more rope. The breakaway now has 5:21 on the bunch behind.
Away from today's racing briefly and Remco Evenepoel has been told he can begin training at home. Evenepoel had that horrible crash during Il Lombardia, when he went over a bridge and broke his pelvis. Read the full story here.
Switzerland is another team that has been near the front of the peloton right from the start. They have Tour de France star Marc Hirschi among their number today. Could he put on another daring attack today to take the rainbow jersey? After his performances in France, you have to imagine that the favourites wouldn't be too keen to let him get away.
As always, the Belgian team has a plethora of potential contenders. Chiefly among them is Wout van Aert. Perhaps the course is a bit too challenging for him against some strong climbers but you just can't count him out of anything at the moment. Even if it does prove too much for Van Aert, they have Greg Van Avermaet, Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot.
Situation - 219.1km to go
With way over 200km to go, the gap keeps pushing out to our leading group. 6:42 now for our escapees.
The team of the outgoing world champion Mads Pedersen has been up towards the front for much of the day so far. Pedersen is not here in Imola today but the Danish do have a contender for today in Jakob Fuglsang.
There were three non-starters this morning: Nikias Arndt, Natnael Berhane and Alexey Lutsenko. The Kazakh federation confirmed that Lutsenko would not make the start after testing positive for coronavirus. Read more on the story here.
A bit of a wobble in the bunch on one of the climbs and a few riders have to clip out. It causes a bit of a traffic jam but it doesn't look like anyone has been injured, thankfully.
It looks like the wind is picking up a bit. It's still not gusting quite like it was yesterday but it could play a role later today if it continues to get stronger.
This year's worlds has been thrown together at the last minute due to Covid-19 forcing the UCI to move it away from Switzerland. It meant many of the riders got their first sight of the course when they arrived in Imola earlier this week. Oliver Naesen is in Italy for the Belgian squad and gave his thoughts on the course after riding it yesterday. Read what he had to say here.
Situation - 200.8km to go
The gap is pretty stable at the moment at 6:26.
The bunch are on the race track at the moment and the speed at the front, set by Silvan Dillier, is stretching the peloton out into one long line.
The Imola race circuit is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, circuits on the F1 calendar so the riders will be able to build up quite a lot of speed going through here. It should be a fast finish, in 198km time.
The peloton passes through the finish line and they have seven more laps of this hilly circuit.
Silvan Dillier has done a big turn on the front of the peloton through the circuit. He moves off now as we head back into the more hilly section.
It's now Slovenia's Luka Pibernik sitting on the front and setting the pace. The bunch is keeping a close eye on the gap of the escapees, leaving them out there at just over six minutes.
Lap 2 ✔️ Koch 🇩🇪, Traeen 🇳🇴, Friedrich 🇦🇹, Fominykh 🇰🇿, Arashiro 🇯🇵, Grosu 🇷🇴 and Castillo Soto 🇲🇽 in the breakaway with over 7 minutes gap to the peloton.#Imola2020 pic.twitter.com/KO4FjIHJphSeptember 27, 2020
If you haven't done it already, take a read of our 10 riders to watch.
Tom Dumoulin has been sitting near the back of the bunch for a lot of the race so far, as has Pieter Weening. Dumoulin could be a a contender today if he's still got some of his Tour de France form, while Sam Oomen is also an outside bet.
It's still pretty overcast at the moment and plenty of arm warmers on. Mercifully, there is no rain for now. Let's hope it stays that way.
Dillier back on the front once again for Switzerland. They obviously have a lot of faith in Hirschi after the season he's had so far.
A 🤜🤛 before the start for @kwiato and @RichardCarapazM 🇵🇱 🇪🇨Can they re-create some of their Tour de France magic today at #Imola2020? pic.twitter.com/gtELsh5IvrSeptember 27, 2020
Regarding that tweet below, Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski both have the skillset to win today's race. I'd put my money on Kwiatkowski over Carapaz if they came to the line together. I doubt we'd see a repeat of them crossing the line arm in arm if that did happen.
Carapaz has just two teammates with him today, so he's understandibly playing it safe in the peloton at the moment. There's no point in pushing too far forward at this stage of the race.
Situation - 176.1km to go
The pace in the bunch has picked up and the gap to the escapees is being trimmed down pretty quickly. Denmark and Slovenia are riding hard and the advantage of the beakaway is 5:05
Having completed the two main climbs, the leaders are heading back into the circuit to finish another lap. The climbs are not very long but they're steep and the nine laps mean there's actually 5,000m of ascent in the race.
Six laps remaining now as the leaders cross the finish line once again. The GPS is reporting that the gap is now 4:30 but we'll wait for the bunch to come through to see if that's right. Timing has been a bit sporadic today.
Tzortzakis of Greece leads the bunch over the line and the gap is confirmed at 5:08. The pace is certainly ticking up but the leaders have a little more space than the GPS indicates at times.
The pace appears to have knocked off a little bit in the peloton after that surge. A few more nations came forward just to calm things down. There's still 164km to go so no need to catch this leading group too early.
I can see some Spanish colours near the front for the first time today. Spain has Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas and Mikel Landa in the race today. Valverde would ordinarily be the safest bet from that bunch but he was a little below his usual level at the Tour de France. Perhaps age is finally catching up with him.
A mechanical for Tusveld on the Mazzolano climb.
France also showing their faces near the front for the first time. They have Alaphilippe as their leader but Guillaume Martin has been in good form so far this season with 11th overall at the Tour de France.
Some action at the front of the bunch and one of the Danish riders has gone off the front. I think it might be Honore.
Situation - 156.9km
The leaders still hold a gap of 6:08 after the pace slows in the peloton.
Confirmation that the Danish rider off the front is Mikkel Honoré. Meanwhile, Denmark also has a rider on the front of the peloton.
The strain is beginning to show on the faces of some of the escapees. I wonder how much longer some of them will be able to last. I imagine several of them will be blown out the back door when the hammer goes down.
Poland has been gradually moving en-masse towards the front of the peloton. I can't see Kwiatkowski at the moment but I'm sure he's safely tucked in there.
The strain is being felt in the peloton and Juraj Bellan has been dropped on the Cima Gallisterna. The peloton is still quite big at the moment, though.
Honore is no longer in the gap as the pace picks back up in the peloton thanks to Denmark. They and Switzerland seem very keen to make this a fast race.
Some splits happening in the leading group as return to the F1 circuit. Three riders are distanced under a high pace, but they manage to pull back the gap.
The race is fast approaching the halfway mark now with 143km to go. The breakaway still has a substantial gap as they pass through the feed zone and pick up some refreshments.
Julian Alaphilippe is one of the contenders for victory today. The Frenchman sees himself as one of the outsiders but he is still ambitious.
"We’re outsiders but that doesn’t mean we don’t have ambition. The Slovenians and many others are capable of making the race hard and winning, but I think it will be a completely different race to the Tour. The Worlds is always raced differently. There are really a lot of riders who can win so it’s hard to single out a favourite."
Situation - 138.6km to go
The gap has gone out again and is the longest it has been all day at 7:05. Five laps remain for the riders.
Marco Friedrich has lost touch with the leading group now and it looks permanent. That's his day done.
Hearing that Ryan Mullen has pulled out of the race, leaving Ireland with just two riders. It was always going to be a tough day for Mullen, who is not best suited to the really hilly routes.
Mullen is the first abandon of the race but there will be a lot more before we reach the end of the race. Lots of riders being shelled from the peloton as the pain and fatigue starts to set into the legs and the pace picks up again.
Castillo is briefly distanced from the breakaway but he makes it back. He is the only Mexican rider in the race.
Grosu is the next rider from the breakaway to be distanced. He goes pop on the Cima Gallisterna.
Some more riders in the peloton are struggling to keep in touch and we're finally seeing a whittling down of the bunch.
After losing two riders, here is a reminder of who is left in the breakaway. Koch (Germany), Traeen (Norway), Fomynkh (Kazakhstan), Arashiro (Japan) and Castillo (Mexico). Castillo looks like he might be the next one to go as he dangles off the back.
Situation - 123.7km to go
The gap is falling again, bit by bit. Having peaked at a bit over seven minutes, the escapees now have 5:38 on the peloton.
Mads Pedersen is not defending his rainbow jersey here in Imola, with Jakob Fuglsang leading the Danish hopes in this year's race. Before Pedersen waves goodbye to the jersey, he wrote about his year in the rainbow stripes for Cyclingnews. Read his blog here.
5 riders leading the race now. Koch 🇩🇪, Traeen 🇳🇴, Fominykh 🇰🇿, Arashiro 🇯🇵, Grosu 🇷🇴⏱️ 5'40'' > Peloton📈 Live > https://t.co/5gWycMtQ2E🏁 120 km to go#Imola2020 [📸 @bettiniphoto ] pic.twitter.com/R4oJzbnp6jSeptember 27, 2020
After being dropped by the breakaway quite a while ago, Friedrich has been caught by the peloton. Grosu is still in no man's land at the moment.
Nicolas Roche getting near the front of the peloton. He's not among the favourites for today but he might give it a red hot go in the final. It's the world championships where anything can happen, so why not give it a punt and see what happens.
🌈 #Imola2020 🏁About 110 km to go. A lot of action to come! pic.twitter.com/7dxoCe8SPsSeptember 27, 2020
A second abandon from the race, Markus Wildauer of Austria.
Unsurprisingly, Castillo is the next of the breakaway to be dropped. Arashiro and Fominykh have also been gapped, leaving Koch and Traeen the leading pair on the road.
A mechanical problem for Paddy Bevin. Meanwhile, a string of riders have been dropped from the peloton.
The peloton is visably much smaller now as we get near the 100km to go mark. There's still somewhere between 50-60 riders in there, though.
Grosu has now abandoned after his efforts in the breakaway.
Situation - 101.8km to go
Koch and Traeen are still alone out front. Their advantage has fallen to 4:46.
Arashiro has dropped Fominykh and he's off in chase of the leading two. No official gap but he doesn't look like he's too far away.
The GPS time gap between the two leaders and Arashiro is 25 seconds. The peloton is 4:29 behind them.
Arashiro is really giving it some on the climb. He's not ready to give up on the breakaway. He stands a real chance of getting back in touch on the descent. Meanwhile, Castillo has been caught by the peloton.
Back in the bunch, Michael Schar has picked things up for Switzerland. Slovenia also maintaining a position near the front of the pack.
... Riders on the storm🎶#Imola2020 [Pic @bettiniphoto] pic.twitter.com/j4nLqF97qdSeptember 27, 2020
Arashiro is still doing his best to make it back to the front group but he's efforts don't appear to be paying dividends at the moment. With the pace really going up in the peloton, he may find himself caught instead.
89.9km to go
Switzerland has really put the hammer down at the front of the peloton and there are some gaps beginning to appear behind them.
The leaders have just three minutes on the chasing peloton. Arashiro is about 20 seconds behind.
The peloton passes the line to begin the seventh lap and they are now just 2:36 behind the leaders.
82km to go
Arashiro's chase has withered in the last few kilometres and he is now almost a minute behind the leaders.
News from Spain is that Marc Soler has abandoned. That will be a bit of a blow for the Spanish.
The leaders are back onto the Mazzolano and their lead has fallen to less than two minutes. How much longer can they stay out there? How much longer before the peloton starts making real moves?
77.8km to go
There are several teams up at the front of the peloton. Switzerland and Denmark are among them, as they have been for the whole day. Luke Rowe is up there for Great Britain for the first time. He has been sitting a couple of rows back for most of the day.
Kuznetsov (Russia) has had a bit of a dig off the front. There is no real reaction in the peloton and his advantage is relatively slim at the moment.
74km to go
Kuznetsov has caught Arashiro but the two are about to be reeled back in by the peloton.
Louis Meintjes struggling a little on the fast descent to keep up with the peloton. He's one of two South Africans in the race, the other is Nicholas Dlamini.
France have now put a couple of riders onto the front of the peloton. We're getting to the pointy end of this race and it can't be much longer before we see some proper attacks coming.
70km to go
Onto the Cima Gallisterna and France is really pushingg things on. Pogacar and Roglic are very near the front, as is Tim Wellens.
Hirschi is sitting on the wheel of Pogacar on this climb, about four riders back.
Meanwhile, the two leaders have just over 30 seconds of their advantage remaining thanks to that dig by the French. Their lead won't last much longer.
Correction about Soler. He still appears to be in the race, despite the live timing system stating that he had abandoned.
France has really strung the bunch out. They're making it very difficult and have all but caught the last two escapees.
68km to go
Koch and Traeen are caught and the French put in another big dig. We're onto the descent of the Cima Gallisterna now.
This effort by the French has shelled a few riders but the pre-race favourites look pretty comfortable at the moment.
Interestingly, Great Britain has Tom Pidcock in this front group with Luke Rowe. He is doing very well in his first senior worlds.
France is still pushing really hard. Will the effort pay off or will it be wasted? It has thinned out the bunch but all the big favourites are still there.
Belgium looks extremely comfortable behind the French team. They have some serious numbers and Van Aert is still in there.
The peloton still has about 40-50 riders in it, despite the best efforts of the French.
France is still going great guns. They have three riders on the front at the moment. Belgium still sitting happy behind them. I'm sure they're delighted that the French are doing all of the work at the moment.
59.9km to go
It seems that Belgium has a full complement of riders in that peloton.
62 km to go, Gruppo Compatto! 🇫🇷 The French team is setting the pace! 62 km al termine, Gruppo Compatto! La nazionale francese a giudare il gruppo!Live 👉 https://t.co/HNlmbGCCne#Imola2020 [📸 @bettiniphoto] pic.twitter.com/ky9Zlacf9BSeptember 27, 2020
Pogacar has dropped back to the team car and he seems a little agitated. It looks like he's about to have a bike change.
Quick thinking by Pogcar to put his bidon in his jersey before he jumps off his bike and collects a new one. He made sure his team got close to the back of the peloton before they made the switch, to lose as little time as possible.
That was very calm and collected by Pogacar and he's almost back onto the peloton.
France is no longer on the front of the bunch and Naesen now picks up the pace setting for Belgium.
54km to go
Pacher looks like he may be about to lose touch. He did so much effort for the French earlier.
52km to go
Luke Rowe now moves to the front with Pidcock in his wheel. Kwiatkowski is right behind him and perhaps getting ready to make or mark a move.
Van Baarle is just behind Kwiatkowski and I can see Matthews near the front. It looks like its about to kick off anytime soon.
Stuyven is dropped by the bunch and Naesen was shelled a little while earlier.
Now it's Benoot setting the pace. He's got Van Avermaet in his wheel with Wellens and Van Aert behind. Italy now moving up towards the front. They've been fairly quiet so far today.
Rowe has now dropped down through the peloton but I can see Pidcock still tucked in near the front with Belgium.
I'd say there are about 35 riders left in this leading group.
And, Rowe has got himself back to the front of the group. It looked like he'd finished his effort but he clearly hasn't.
It looks like it's getting a bit darker overhead. There was rain predicted at some point during the race but it hasn't materialised yet.
46km to go
Still no real action just yet. It's not far from where Anna van der Breggen made her move yesterday. Will someone try from far out today?
Just under two kilometres until the penultimate ascent of the Cima Gallisterna.
42.6km to go
The riders are onto the climb. Will anyone make an attack here?
Slovania is moving up to the front with Pogacar. Is he ready to make a move? He definitely doesn't want to come to the line with someone like Van Aert.
Pogacar putting a big dig in and he's got a small gap on the bunch.
The gap is about four bike lengths.
The gap is growing out but not at a great rate. Belgium is doing the chasing at the moment.
Benoot is leading the chase for Belgium and he has Van Aert in his wheel. They don't look like they're too worried at the moment.
Belgium is dragging Pogacar back, ever so slowly.
Looking through the group, there are several big names left Fuglsang, Matthews, Porte, Landa, Van Aert and more.
On the descent, Pogacar is actually pulling out the gap now. Not much panic yet in the bunch, are they making a mistake?
39km to go
There's still a long way to go for Pogacar but he's giving it beans. He's got about 15 seconds at the moment.
A course like this favours a solo rider or a small group over a peloton as the roads are so narrow and windy.
Belgium still leading the chase behind. They've got superior numbers in the peloton so the other teams are happy to let them do that. The gap to Pogacar is beginning to come back to the peloton now. It's about 10 seconds but Pogacar is not giving up. Remember his time trial at the Tour de France?
Pogacar also has the comfort of knowing that Roglic is back in the peloton and could just as well take the victory. Slovenia has never had such a good chance at winning the men's road race title.
32.1km to go
Pogacar is giving nothing away on these fast roads. His lead goes back up to 14 seconds.
No signn of anyone trying to bridge over to Pogacar. Back on the race track and the peloton can see him just up the road. The gap is 19 seconds but there's no stress at the moment.
28.3km to go
The bell tolls for Pogacar as he begins the final lap. His gap is still quite small. Could he possibly hold it all the way to the finish?
Back in the peloton Italy has five riders, including Ulissi, Nibali and Bettiol. Meanwhile, Carapaz, Hirschi, Costa, Valverde, Landa, Fuglsang, Dumoulin, Woods, Alaphilippe, Lopez, Uran, Kwiatkowski and Schachmann are all in there.
Approaching the Mazzolano and the riders are jostling for position again. Nobody wants to be out of place if things light up on the ascent.
24.8km to go
Pogacar's gap is now 22 seconds as Spain move to the front to help Belgium make the chase.
France coming back up to the front, too. They've been fairly quiet since that charge a few laps ago.
Wellens pulls out a small gap on the descent. It looks like it's unintentional as he glances over his shoulder and sits up.
21.8km to go
Pogacar is in sight and Dumoulin attacks.
Dumoulin has been right near the back of the peloton all day, saving his energy. He quickly catches Pogacar and moves to the front. The peloton is not far behind them.
Martin pushing the pace on the bunch andit looks like he's got Uran in his wheel. They catch Dumomulin and Pogacar on the Mazzolano.
Lots of attacks coming now. Caruso attacks for Italy and Van Aert is quickly in his wheel. Carapaz is well up there at the moment.
20.7km to go
Pogacar has dropped to the back of the bunch. Is he done or just saving his energy?
Niabli attacks on the descent.
Landa, Uran and Van Aert are with him.
France is leading the chase behind this Nibali group. The gap is really small and Uran now has a dig.
This group of four has about two seconds on the bunch behind. It's still anyone's game at this stage.
The Cima Gallisterna is the much more challenging of the two climbs and we can expect some fireworks when the peloton reaches it for the final time.
16.7km to go
Valverde has a little go off the front but his move is short-lived.
An attach from one of the Italian riders and he's taken about five other riders with him, including Alaphilippe, Pogacar and Van Avermart.
More riders now trying to bridge across, though and this group is growing.
No sooner has it all come back together than Guillaume Martin attacks for France.
Still about 30 riders in this peloton as they approach the Cima Gallisterna. Martin has been reeled in.
13.2km to go
Benoot hammering it on the front for Belgium with Van Avermaet in his wheel. Van Aert in the middle of the pack.
Van Avermaet now onto the front as the riders hit the foot of the Cima Gallisterna.
Van Aert up near the front with Hirschi, Schachmann, Nibali and Roglic.
Alaphilippe tucked in fourth position on the road. Kiwatkowski and Fuglsang are also in there. The race has blown apart and Porte has been dropped.
Hirschi putting in a real hard dig. An eight-man group leads with a small gap over a bunch that is led by the Dutch.
This front group is Kwiakowski, Alaphilippe, Van Aert, Hirschi, Roglic and Fuglsang.
17km to go
Fuglsang is chasing with Kiwakowski a little bit further behind.
Van Aert has bridged back up as they go over the top of the final climb.
It's Alaphilippe up front, with Fuglsang, Kwiatkowski and Van Aert chasing behind.
Hirschi and Roglic have joined the Fuglsang group, which is nine seconds behind Alaphilippe.
9.8km to go
The chase group seems to be working together for the moment. Hirschi has to dig in to maintain contact with the group.
Alaphilippe now has 15 seconds over the chasing five.
Van Aert is probably the favourite if they bring Alaphilippe back but Kwiatkowski could give him a run for his money.
8.3km to go
Alaphilippe has 12 seconds at the moment but the gap keeps going up and down.
Van Aert on the front of the chasing group. Roglic briefly distanced as they go through a corner. 14 seconds for Alaphilippe.
6.9km to go
The chasers can almost see Alaphilippe up the road but he's holding his gap for the moment.
Alaphilippe riding on the top tube, trying to get every bit of aero he can.
The chasing group is still working together but they're not really making any gains over Alaphilippe.
Alaphilippe shouts at the motorbike, he wans a time check. He's got just 12 seconds at the moment. It's going to be touch and go.
4.3km to go
It's down to 10 seconds and they're almost at the racing circuit.
Alaphilippe keeps looking over his shoulder. He wants to know where the chasers are. He has 15 seconds over the chasers now.
3.3km to go
Alaphilippe putting his all in. He can almost taste the rainbow.
Van Aert doing the lion's share of the work in the chasing group. He's got 14 seconds at the moment.
Fuglsang now takes up the chase. Hirschi and Roglic are struggling to keep in touch. This is so close.
1.7km to go
Van Aert back to the front of the chase. There's a sense of desperation in his riding. He can see Alaphilippe up the road.
Alaphilippe using all of the circuit to his advantage, he doesn't want to give up anything to the chasers.
Under the flamme rouge
Alaphilippe has 16 seconds now
Alaphilippe can see the line now. He's won it!
Alaphilipe is in tears as he crosses the line. He's done it.
Van Aert easily takes the silver medal and it's a photo finish for third.
Alaphilippe has broken down in floods of tears. This has been a hugely difficult year for him after his father died in the summer.
He took a punt and it paid off. He never had much of an advantage but it was just enough for him to take the rainbow jersey.
We have confirmation that Hirschi took bronze ahead of Kwiatkowski.
What a finale that was, it was heart in mouth stuff.
A replay shows that there was hardly a paper's width between Hirschi and Kwiatkowski in that finish.
Some year that Marc Hirschi has had so far, just his second as a professional. Van Aert has also had a superb season and will likely be a little disappointed that he couldn't come away with the victory. He so easily won that sprint for second place.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Julian Alaphilppe (France)||6:38:34|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Belgium)||0:00:24|
|3||Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)|
|4||Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)|
|5||Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)|
|6||Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)|
|7||Michael Matthews (Australia)||0:00:53|
|8||Alejandro Valverde (Spain)|
|9||Max Schachmann (Germany)|
|10||Damiano Caruso (Italy)|
Given the topsy turvey season that is 2020, Alaphilippe will have plenty of chances to take a win in the rainbow stripes before the year is out.
Alaphilippe was understandibly extremely emotional at the finish. These were his initial thoughts after taking the rainbow jersey.
"At this moment it’s really hard to say something. I want to say thank you to all my teammates who really believe in me today. Everybody did a great job. It was a dream of my career. Sometimes, I was so close, and I was never on the podium. I came here with a lot of ambition and it’s just a dream day for me."
Tom Pidcock finished outside the top 40 in the end but he was in the group of favourites for quite some time and put in a pretty solid performance given it was his first World Championships. This is what he had to say after the finish.
"It was one hell of an experience. We didn’t get a result but with such a young team we were here to learn. Luke did such a good job keeping me at the front as if I was there to win and that’s valuable for the future.
"We weren’t favourites. Maybe, who knows what I would have been like after 260k but I didn’t have the legs. It wasn’t as if it was hard but my legs were just empty. It was a good starting point and I was there with the top 30 guys with last lap so there’s a lot of positives."
Teamwork ⚡#Imola2020 🌈 pic.twitter.com/9TyJxjsHoHSeptember 27, 2020
The rain has now started to fall in Imola. It has been threatening to for quite some time but, thankfully, it didn't come during the race. I dread to think what the descents would have been like in the rain.
For a recap of today's action, pictures and full results, don't forget to head over to our race report.
Goosebumps 🤗Photo: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/cnKThvCAqJSeptember 27, 2020
When after 260 km of racing you lose a medal by few cm... A bit disappointed, but felt great and really believed the main prize was up for grabs. Big thanks to my teammates and chapeau @alafpolak 👏🏻🌈 What a great World Champion you will be! #imola2020 pic.twitter.com/41ZOSB4bdJSeptember 27, 2020
As the World Championships often are, that was a very slow burn of a race. There were a few early moments. It began to light up on the penultimate lap when Tadej Pogacar went off the front but it didn't properly kick off until that final lap. Alaphilippe knew he couldn't take Van Aert to the line, so attacking was his only move. He definitely benefitted a bit from other riders also not wanting to take Van Aert with them but he laid it all on the line in that final lap.
If you didn't get the chance to see the women's road race yesterday, then we also have a ful recap, images and results here.
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