In 2024 the peloton gets served a tough course for the World Championships Road Race. The riders will head over to the picturesque city of Zurich where their legs will be tested by 4500 altitude meters. Who will come out on top on the 29th of September?
273,9 km of hell awaits the Men Elite with over 4470 meters of elevation for them to tackle. The race will finish on a local circuit of 27 km in and around Zurich, which the riders will conquer seven times. On each lap they get served an elevation of 501 meters.
The main climbs will suit the riders who pack a punch with the longest being 2.3 km in length. Before the peloton hits the local circuit, they'll climb Kyburg, which is a 1,2 km climb with an average gradient of 12% and a maximum of 16%. This is certainly going to become the climb where the breakaway kings will attempt to play their cards.
Each lap on the main circuit contains the Zürichbergstrasse and Witikon. The first climb is 1,1 km with an average gradient of 8% and peaks up to 15%. Deep into the final it could become the start of eternity and glory for the brave who dare to set up and carry an attack into the Witikon. The latter averages 5.7% and a maximum gradient of 9%. With the peak of this climb coming 15km before the finish line, will the daring attacks even be able to go the distance? Both Zürichbergstrasse and Witikon will be ridden over 7 times. Apart from that, the circuit is quite dull to say the least.
Let’s start of easy. Mathieu van der Poel will be eager to defend his rainbow jersey. There might be a huge elevation gain, Van der Poel will see opportunities in this parcours. With over 15 km of mostly flat and downhill sections after the last official climb, it could become a lifeline for Mathieu if he's not able to follow strong attacks on the uphill. If he plays it smart and follows, winning a reduced bunch sprint might be his chance for a second rainbow title.
The course for the 2024 UCI Road World Championships is similar to the one of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which means we definitely need to mention Remco Evenepoel here. The Belgian will be looking to take back the jersey after losing it in Glasgow. The final climb could become the slingshot to victory for the Aerobullet. He should be able to carry his relentless tempo into the flatter part thanks to his time trial skills. Even if his attack was to fail, his ability to win head-to-head sprints developed this season.
If we get to see the best climbing version of Wout van Aert, he should definitely be in the mix too. Will it be 3rd time lucky for the Belgian after two previous 2nd place finishes in 2020 and 2023? If he was to succeed it would be the same situation as Van der Poel. Follow the attacks or try to come back and win in a reduced bunch sprint. The dynamics in the Belgian team will be something to watch out for. Will Wout accept being the 2nd choice to Remco especially after coming so close to glory?
The first thing you might think when seeing this course is probably 'Tadej Pogacar'. He will be hoping to display his cycling magic in Zurich. Unlike Van der Poel and Van Aert, Tadej's best chance of winning will be by a nuclear attack. The Slovenians will set a high tempo launching Pogacar up the Zürichbergstrasse, ready for a final attack on the Witikon climb. Of all contenders, Pogacar might be the one with the strongest cards in his hands. Slovenia will no doubt display an absolute bonckers team, potentially including Primoz Roglic and Matej Mohoric too.
We shouldn't forget about the Danish national champion, Mattias Skjelmose. He will be looking to build on his wonderful 2023 season. The Dane well and truly blossomed into a dynamic rider capable of winning various race profiles. The past couple of years, the Danish team proved to be a strong block. Expect them to show the same in Switzerland.
Another Belgian rider is on the agenda: Ilan Van Wilder. If selected it would be his first ever World’s Road Race. A climbing profile very similar to Remco in fact which is perfect for this race. Unfortunately, it is likely he will be on domestique duty protecting either Remco or Wout. If the opportunity does present itself he certainly has the chance to take it though.
Tobias Halland Johannessen of Uno-X Pro Cycling Team is going to be the one to watch for Team Norway. With everyone on Team Norway looking to be all in for his success, I think he could even be in contention to keep up with the big boys thanks to his strong climbing abilities. His performances in one day races next season will be a good foundation to lay an attempt at the world’s. He has the ability to also win in a reduced bunch.
Recent winner of a Tour De France stage, Matej Mohorič, is the ‘one day specialist’ who can well and truly shine bright in this race. His ability to commit to strong long-range attacks and still being able to sprint is sensational. If he was able to just stick on the wheel of Van Der Poel, I give him every chance of succeeding.
Next up is Mauro Schmid, who moves to Team Jayco AlUla this offseason. The Swiss man will look to build on a solid 2023 season where he was close to breaking into the top 10 in Glasgow, finishing 13th. The climbs around Zurich are steeper and punchier than the ones compared to Glasgow, so they should suit him even better. A solid top 5 is definitely on the agenda.
Switzerland has another diamond in their team: Marc Hirschi. He had a tremendous end to the 2023 season at the Italian classics. Hirschi had a poor start to the year tough, it must be said, but with his performances picking up he will look to build even further. With the quality of the Swiss team's domestiques it could be a key component if Hirschi has a chance at succeeding as he has the ability to do so.
Let us know your opinion on who is the big contender for Zurich 2024 in the comments. Or perhaps you're thinking of a rider you truly believe has gone under the radar? Drop the name below!