The under-23 race has a smaller field size than the elite races, but it allows larger team sizes, which has an impact on tactics. The road race circuit loops around the Richmond CBD, with 10 laps making a total distance of 162.2km.
Great Britain and Colombia have the stand out sprinters, and they will be expected to do the majority of the work to bring back any attackers. Other teams will be trying to make the race difficult to control, then attack in the hard final 4km of the race if they are still in contention.
The final 4km are the toughest with three short climbs in quick succession. The cobbled Libby Hill comes first, a short climb of 300m with a six per cent gradient. The cobbled climb up 23rd street is only 100m long, but it is steep at 11 per cent. The final 350m climb up Governor St is sealed and averages 6.8 per cent. Escaping solo has been the best strategy in recent years with the last two editions won by lone riders.
Owain Doull (Great Britain) is one of the most experienced riders, and a great all-rounder. His sprinting is his best quality but he will be one of the few that will be able to go with the best on the climbs as well. He was third at the Tour of Britain, beating a lot of experienced professionals. He backed that up with fifth in the time trial a few days ago and looks primed to win here. The man to beat.
Denmark bring a very strong squad with Mads Wurtz Schmidt, Soren Kragh Anderson and Mads Pedersen, who could all win the race. Wurtz won the time trial and has very good road form. Anderson will be the nominated sprinter and he will be confident in his abilities to win at the end of a hard race, having won six races already this season. This team has riders strong enough to shut down moves or drive them all the way to the finish.
Dion Smith (New Zealand) has been in sparkling form for Hincapie Racing in the North American races, consistently up in the results on the climbs and in reduced bunch sprints. New Zealand don’t have a big team, so Smith will have to attack.
Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria shocked the cycling world when he gave Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) a touch-up in San Luis at the start of the year. Then, at the Tour of Britain, he proved that was no fluke as Cavendish lead him out for the win. He won’t be suited to this course as he isn’t a strong climber, but if he makes it to the finish, he will be the fastest over the closing, crucial metres.
Italy have the most wins at the under-23 level and are fielding 11 riders this year. Gianni Mouscon will be their main card. He finished second in the Tour of Flanders under-23 race and won the Italian national road race championships. His form over the cobbles and one-day races places him as a top contender.
French under-23 road race champion, Franck Bonnamour turned heads with an eighth in the Tour de Wallonie last week, on a similar course to this one. He’s not got much of a sprint, so he’ll have to go on the attack. An outsider who can’t be given much space.
Dylan Groenewegen would have been the fast man for the Dutch, but he was taken out in a sprint on Monday and fractured his knee. The Netherlands will call on promising climber Sam Oomen who has taken a number of wins this year in mountainous terrain. If he can get in the right move he’ll be strong enough to finish it off.
Australia have been unlucky in the lead up to the world championships. Injuries to key riders Alexander Edmondson and Robert Power means they’ll have to get aggressive to take a medal. After his second place finish in the Tour de l’Avenir, Tasmanian, Jack Haig will be the protected rider.
It will take a long range move from Haig to create his own luck for the win. The course won’t be too much to his liking although his mountain biking background means he’ll feel more comfortable than some on the cobbles and punchy climbs.
SBS will broadcast the under 23 men's road race on Saturday 26 September from 3:00am AEST on SBS/HD with streaming available right here on the Cycling Central website.