The circuit is pretty easy until the final four kilometres where there are three short climbs in quick succession, with quick descending in between and very little flat road.
The cobbled Libby Hill is first, a short climb of 300 metres at 6 per cent, and is immediately followed by the steep climb up 23rd street, 100 metres at 11 per cent. The last 300 metre climb up Governor street at 6.8 per cent finishes within the final kilometer, and there is a false flat through to the finish.
The Womens race is one of the most open in recent memory, and a case can be made for almost a quarter of the field as winners. That leaves the tactics open, since there isn't a big favourite whose team will be called upon to control the race - it will probably have to be a joint effort from a number of nations.
The under 23 mens race showed that a lone attack is well suited to this finish, but there was a small group just behind and the peleton was not far behind. It is a course where a variety of riders have a chance to win.
At 23, Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (image above) can already lay claim to being one of the best all-round cyclists of all-time, simultaneously holding the world titles in the road, cyclocross and mountain-bike disciplines. Her road schedule was somewhat pared back this year as a result, and she hasn’t done much racing. Her only two wins were in the French nationals and a stage of the Giro, but she has been in good form recently, taking third in Plouay. A very classy rider who could add to her growing legend by defending her road world title.
Jolien D’Hoore (BEL) will be the one that all the other favourites will want to drop, as she possesses a very fast finish. She has taken 12 victories to date this season, mostly due to her sprinting skills, but she also climbs with the best on the cobbles, taking second in the Tour of Flanders. Her main obstacle will be the tactics of the race, no one will be happy to ride with her to the finish, and her team isn’t strong enough to keep the race together. A top contender, but she’ll be the marked rider of the race.
Elizabeth Armistead (GBR) won the crucial lead-up race, the GP Plouay, which takes on added importance this season, with the course being so similar to the Worlds circuit. She is a very solid all-rounder who will look to try and get to the finish alone or in a small group. Her team for the race is a strong one, and can be relied upon to deliver her to the front at the important moments. Very versatile rider with a lot of different ways she can win here.
Anna Van Der Breggen (NED) came very close taking the gold medal in the TT, and will be very keen to take her first rainbow jersey. She is a powerhouse of a bike rider, and is at home on the flat or on the hills. She sits at the top of the UCI world rankings with wins at the Giro and La Course, but you can’t call yourself the best rider without winning a world championships. Her Dutch team won’t just be based around her, with prolific sprinter Lucinda Brand also a good chance for the win.
Emma Johansson (SWE) has been very consistent throughout the season, taking a number of top placings, but often finishing just off the winner. She has been one of the best in the world for several years, combining climbing and sprinting abilities to take a number of big wins, but the rainbow stripes have eluded her to date. Without a strong team she will have to use her experience to win. Third in 2014, second in 2013, she’ll want to add a first to give herself the full trio of medals.
The Americans boast a strong team on their home soil, and it is not exactly clear who out of Megan Guarnier, Shelly Olds and Evelyn Stevens will be the team leader. None possess the sprint of the other favourites, so to win they would need to put a number of riders on the attack, and then leverage their numbers in the move to get a rider alone to the finish.
SBS will broadcast the elite women's road race on Sunday 27 September from 2:50am AEST on SBS/HD with streaming available right here on the Cycling Central website.