You are here:
Man with a Plan

UCI Road World Championships

Man with a Plan

World Championships ambassador Thomas Rohregger answers selected questions on the UCI Road World Championships.

Text: Text: Eva Schwienbacher, Picture: Flo Taibon Photography 

After years of waiting, the UCI Road World Championships are finally here! High time to clear up a few unanswered questions about this major international event. Sport.tirol sat down with World Championships ambassador Thomas Rohregger to go through everything from the disciplines and challenges to the fan zones and title favourites.

The disciplines

A total of twelve races will take place from 22 to 30 September 2018 in the categories Men Elite, Women Elite, Men Junior, Women Junior and Men Under 23. There will be three disciplines: Team Time Trial, Individual Time Trial and Road Race. The World Championships begin with the UCI Men’s Team Time Trial and the UCI Women’s Team Time Trial. These races will be followed by the Individual Time Trials and, finally, the Road Races. Details on the racing schedule.

Difference between Team Time Trial and Individual Time Trial

The Team Time Trials at the UCI Road World Championships feature teams of six riders. Unlike in the other disciplines at the World Championships, the riders compete not for their respective countries but instead ride for their trade teams. Teams start at intervals of between two and three minutes. The team which completes the course in the fastest time wins the race. Of the six riders who start, only four must reach the finish – the clock stops when the fourth rider in the team crosses the line. Slipstreaming is an essential element of efficient time-trial riding. One rider rides at the front of the group and provides a slipstream for the other riders behind, thereby enabling them to save energy. Riders take turns at riding on the front of the group. The Team Time Trials at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships will start at the Area 47 outdoor adventure centre in the Ötztal Valley. Details on the Team Time Trials.

As the name suggests, the Individual Time Trial sees riders compete on their own. Riders leave the start ramp at intervals of 90 seconds. The rider who completes the course in the fastest time wins the race. All the Individual Time Trials will start at the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens, with the exception of the Men Elite Individual Time Trial starting in Rattenberg. Details on the Individual Time Trials.

Das Straßenrennen 

This discipline begins with a mass start. At UCI Road World Championships riders must generally complete several laps of a road race circuit. At the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck-Tirol riders in all categories will leave from Kufstein and first complete a selective course through the Inn Valley to Innsbruck. It is here, in the regional capital, that the Olympic Circuit begins. It take riders from the Museumstraße down to the Sillpark shopping centre and past the Tivoli open-air swimming pool on to the Tivoli football stadium. From there the riders climb up past Ambras Castle, through the villages of Aldrans and Lans to the bottom of the Patscherkofel cable car, where they start the descent through Igls and Vill back down to Innsbruck, past the Tivoli stadium and over the Olympiabrücke bridge into the centre of the city. After passing the Triumphpforte triumphal arch the riders head down Maria-Theresien-Straße, Innsbruck’s main shopping street, into the oldtown, past the Golden Roof and over the Innbrücke bridge into the narrow Höttinger Gasse. This short climb is followed by a sharp turn right onto the Riedgasse road and then back down to the finish line in front of the Hofburg imperial palace.

The road race circuit is identical for all categories, but riders must complete a different number of laps depending on the race. The Junior Men, for example, will ride two laps; the Under 23 Men will ride four laps; the Elite Women will ride thee laps; the Elite Men will ride the Olympic Circuit seven times before taking on the infamously steep Höttinger Höll climb. Details on the Road Races.


The course has a number of tough climbs and will therefore suit the strong climbers in the peloton.

The favourites for the Road Races

The course has a number of tough climbs and will therefore suit the strong climbers in the peloton, explains World Championships ambassador Thomas Rohregger. “In the women’s races I think we will have to keep an eye out for the Dutch riders in particular,” he explains, before adding that Italy, France, Germany and Australia also have a good chance of taking victory. In the Elite Men category the top favourites include Vincenzo Nibali from Italy, Julien Alaphilippe from France and Alejandro Valverde from Spain. Columbia is also known for its excellent climbers, while Belgium and Great Britain will also be sending a strong contingent to Innsbruck-Tirol. Nobody should count out the defending world champion Peter Sagan. And, last but not least, the host nation Austria will also have a team packed full of talent on the start line.

The top countries at the UCI Road World Championships

The races at the UCI Road World Championships are dominated by different countries depending on the profile of the course. “If you look at the history of the Road World Championships you will notice that it has generally been dominated by riders from Italy, France, Belgium and Holland. All in all these countries have collected the most world championship titles over the years,” explains Rohregger. However, in recent years other countries like Slovakia and Ireland have produced strong riders capable of competing for a top result at the UCI Road World Championships. Cycling fans can therefore look forward to plenty of exciting racing in Innsbruck-Tirol.

Austria’s favourites

Austria has nominated a strong team for this year’s World Championships. In the Junior category the names to look out for include Laura Stigger for the Junior Women, while in the Under 23 Men category it is a chance for the 2015 Junior World Champion Felix Gall to perform in front of a home crowd. Other top young riders from Austria include Markus Wildauer and Benjamin Brkic. “In the Men Elite Road Race we have the luxury this year of having lots of really strong riders to choose from,” says Thomas Rohregger. Among the strongest riders taking the start for the host nation will be Patrick Konrad and Gregor Mühlberger.

Rolle des Teams

Riding as a team is particularly important in long, hard races. Each rider in the team has a specific job to do. “A team always has a team leader, and in many cases also a deputy team leader, as well as a number of helpers known as domestiques,” explains Rohregger. The domestiques in the team have to assist the team leader with whatever they need, for example by bringing them water bottles or food, riding in front to protect the team leader from the wind, and in extreme cases even handing over their bike to the team leader if there is a mechanical problem. In order to win a race you must have a strong team with good domestiques.

Die Bedeutung der WM für die Radstars

The UCI Road World Championships have grown in significance in recent years. Today the event is on an equal footing with the three Grand Tours – Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España – and the one-day Classics such as Paris-Roubaix. All such very important races are known as Monuments in the world of cycling.

The UCI Road World Championships are one of the Monuments of cycling.

The Rainbow Jersey

As well as prize money, fame and prestige, the World Champion gets the right to wear the coveted Rainbow Jersey. This is a white cycling jersey with five coloured stripes – blue, red, black, yellow and green – running horizontally around the chest and around the sleeves. It shows who is the current World Champion in each discipline. The World Champion has the right – and the duty – to wear this highly prestigious jersey in all races of that discipline through until the World Championships the following year.

The fan zones

During the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck-Tirol there will be a number of fan zones where spectators can follow the action. They will be located in the finish area in Innsbruck (stretching from the Haus der Musik to the Hofgarten public park), on the Landhausplatz square in the centre of Innsbruck, near Ambras Castle, next to the bottom of the cable car leading up onto the Patscherkofel mountain, and in the start locations (Area 47/Ötztal, Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens, West P1 car park in Rattenberg, centre of Kufstein). Large video walls in all the fan zones will give spectators the chance to follow the action live. There will also be lots of activities and events going on in the fan zones. Details on the fan zones.

Die Höttinger Höll

Höttinger Höll is the name given to the extremely steep climb in Innsbruck which the riders in the Men Elite Road Race must complete after the seventh and final lap of the Olympic Circuit. It leads up towards the Hungerburg settlement in the north of Innsbruck and has a gradient of up to 28% in places. It is likely that the race will be decided here.

© 2017 Tirol Werbung