Ex-pro Mark Renshaw at Mount Pleasant.

Ex-pro Mark Renshaw at Mount Pleasant. © Geoff Platts/Wollongong City

49 more sleeps and it’s that time again: in Wollongong, Australia, the men’s pros will decide who will succeed Julian Alaphilippe as world road cycling champion. Five things you absolutely need to know about the World Cup in Wollongong.

Guy Van Den Langenbergh

1. No trail for the faint of heart

Everyone expected that the Australian federation would design a course tailored to sprinter Caleb Ewan in Wollongong, a coastal city not too far from Sydney. Nothing turns out to be less true. A ride of 266 kilometers with no less than 3,945 altimeters awaits. The start will be given in Helensburgh. Via the coastline it goes to Wollongong where the riders ride a first loop once with the ascent of Mount Keira, a nine kilometer col at an average of more than five percent. After that, a city circuit awaits them twelve more times, including the ascent of Mount Pleasant, a slope of one kilometer at an average of seven percent and with a peak of fourteen percent. It is eight kilometers from the top of Mount Pleasant to the finish.

2. Get up early

If you want to follow the match, you will have to get up early or go to bed late. The time difference with Wollongong is eight hours in their favor. The men’s race will start at 10.15 am local time, 2.15 am in Belgium. The finish is foreseen around 5 pm, then it will be 9 am in Belgium on Sunday morning. Ideal for following the final with coffee and croissants.

3. Wout van Aert passes for time trial

The Belgian selection has yet to be made, but without accidents Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel are our leaders. Especially Van Aert is serious. He fits for the time trial to fully focus on the road race. Evenepoel first rides the Vuelta and then immediately travels on because he has also made the individual time trial a goal.

4. Second World Cup in Australia

Wollongong will be the second World Cup on Australian soil. In 2010, Geelong hosted the title fight near Melbourne. In an uphill sprint, Norwegian Thor Hushovd won ahead of Matti Breschel and home rider Allan Davis, now sports director at Lotto-Soudal. Greg Van Avermaet got a little boxed in in the sprint and took fifth place. Bjorn Leukmans and Philippe Gilbert colored the final but, in retrospect, attacked one round too early.

5. Only One Australian World Champion

Two years earlier, in 2009, an Australian became world champion for the first and for now also the last time. Cadel Evans, then driving for Silence-Lotto, surprised everyone in Mendrisio, Switzerland by pulling away on the final climb and arriving solo. The later Tour winner would ‘thank’ his employer a few weeks later by moving to BMC. Evans will be present in Wollongong as an ambassador for the event.

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