The International Cycling Union (UCI) has confirmed that the 2020 Road World Championships have been switched from Switzerland to Italy. Imola in the central Emilia-Romagna region will host the revised four-day event which gets underway on Thursday, September 24.
This will be the 12th time that Italy has staged the championships, which were originally scheduled to be run in the Aigle and Martigny regions of Switzerland.
All the racing will start and finish on the Enzo e Dino Ferrari motor racing circuit, with the infrastructure lending itself perfectly to staging a top-class cycling event at short notice.
Imola Provides the Perfect Backdrop
Local authorities have paid between three to four million Euros to stage the World Championships, providing much-needed income to the UCI.
The organisation has lost numerous events this year and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until 2021 created further economic issues.
The set-up around the Emilia-Romagna will provide challenging conditions for the riders and help to generate huge interest in UCI Road World Championship sports online betting.
Starting and finishing each of the races at the iconic Imola circuit should add further drama to what promises to be four days of stunning cycling action.
UCI President, David Lappartient, said: “I am convinced that the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Imola will allow us all to witness a great sporting festival.
“I invite you all to follow this event in Italy, true cycling territory, on one of the most challenging circuits in the history of the UCI Road World Championships.
“I look forward to watching these races which promise to be magnificent.”
Climbing Tests Await in Italy
The highlight of the event will be the men’s road race on the final day, which will include nine laps of a near 29-kilometre circuit.
The course has a similar look to the route used in Yorkshire last year, although the climbs are both steeper and longer than the 2019 event.
The first two climbs – the Mazzolano and the Cima Gallisterna – will test the endurance of the riders ahead of a shallow descent and a flat sprint towards the finish.
Women riders face five laps of the same circuit for a 144km total distance, which could lead to a much more explosive race than the men’s event.
The time trial circuit is a flat 31.7km with 200m of altitude gain, with both the men and the women covering just one lap of the course.
The junior and under-23 championships will not be held this year, with the current reigning champions retaining their rainbow jerseys until 2021.
Riders Hoping for Better Conditions
The competitors in this year’s event will be hoping that the long-range weather forecasts for Imola prove to be accurate.
Riders were forced to endure torrential downpours and bitter winds on the final day in 2019, but conditions should be much more favourable this time around.
The results of last year’s road races appeared to be affected by the weather, with Mads Pedersen and Annemiek van Vleuten recording surprise victories in their respective events.
Defending champion Rohan Dennis of Australia retained the men’s time trial title, while American Chloe Dygert Owen romped away with the women’s race.
Wout Van Aert is the favourite to win the men’s elite race this year after producing some impressive performances during the Tour De France.
The Belgian beat the best sprinters in the world to win two stages and should be in prime condition to shine at Imola.
UCI Secures Lucrative Sponsorship
The switch to Italy opened the door for the UCI to agree a lucrative sponsorship deal for the championships with multi-utility company Hera Group.
The Bologna-based firm will support the sustainability and fan management at the event, in what is likely to be a difficult set of circumstances.
Organising the event at such short notice will provide numerous logistical challenges, but Hera Group CEO, Tomaso Tommasi di Vignano, is confident that the event will run smoothly.
“We are particularly happy that we will not only be sustaining this effort to the best of our ability, but also through our services that will accompany the event to guarantee its sustainability and to help handle the fan flow efficiently,” he said.
“The pedals of these bikes remind us of the great effort invested by so many champions and are a source of inspiration for those, such as Hera, who strive to constantly propose something new and better, to continue to improve with time and aim for new goals, in the interest above all of the communities served.”
2020 UCI Road World Championships Schedule
Thursday, September 24: Elite Women individual time trial
Friday, September 25: Elite Men individual time trial
Saturday, September 26: Elite Women road race
Sunday, September 27: Elite Men road race