|Simon Yates E/W||12/1||Bet365|
|Bob Jungels E/W||66/1||MansionBet|
This has been an incredible season of cycling, but the adage of saving the best for last applies here as the UCI have created a fantastic World Championships Course in Austria.
Previous World Road Races have been the preserve of puncheurs and sprinters, but this year’s course is giving the climbers the best chance in a generation of taking the honours, with the hardest course in recent history around Innsbruck.
The riders will face 5,000m of climbing over a distance of 258.5km, taking in a distance and course that should bring the very best climbers in the world to the fore.
Will start in the town of Kufstein and begin with seven circuits of 24km of the ‘Olympic Circuit’. The defining feature of said circuit is the Igls Climb, which is 7 kilometres long at an average of 5.7%. The steepest slopes are 10%, and after those have been taken there’s a final sting in the tail – the riders finish by heading north to take on the final ascent of the Gramartboden, a 2.8-kilometre test that averages 11.5%. The descent is a tricky one, lasting 6 kilometres, before a flat final two kilometres.
This is the best chance many of the field aiming for the title will get for a generation and climbing will obviously be at a premium given the huge amount of ascending. A strong descent is also important, and it’s worth remembering that there is the potential for this to come down to a sprint, so a fast finish could be vital.
This is an incredibly tough course which is closer to 300 than 200 kilometres, so fatigue will play a huge part. Missing the Tour de France to then take in the Vuelta could have a rider in a perfect physical condition and who better than the winner of the race, Simon Yates. He atoned for his Giro collapse (a tour he should have won, by the way), in fine style with an assured and powerful performance.
That is arguably the best recent form in the field, but Yates is not just a mountain goat. He has a terrific strike rate for a climber, winning three stages and gifting one in the Giro, and finishing in the first three in four Vuelta stages when he raced with more restraint. A previous winner of the GP Miguel Indurain, he also won the last stage of the Volta Catalunya in a circuit around Barcelona.
He broke away late that day but has a powerful kick and is supported by a strong team including brother Adam, Hugh Carthy, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pete Kennaugh, James Knox, Ian Stannard and Connor Swift.
The 12/1 with Bet365 looks like value given that he has shown just as much form and pace as favourite Alejandro Valverde and Julian Alaphilippe. The likes of BetHard will give you a best price of 7/2, which is incredibly unappealing
Bob Jungels is not going to have the luxury of excellent teammates to support him, but the 66/1 that Mansionbet offer is too tempting to miss. Jungels won Liege Bastogne-Liege by 37 seconds earlier this year and was an excellent foil for Julian Alaphilippe in the Tour of Britain.
He finished fifth in support of the Frenchman there but will race for himself and the 11th placed finisher at the Tour de France has the one-day pedigree to follow the moves here along with a sprint that is better than most coming to the business end of the proceedings.