Nine Quick-Step Floors riders to race the Worlds on Sunday
Höttinger Höll – which will feature inside the final ten kilometers – will be the main attraction of the 258.5km-long route.
Julian Alaphilippe (France), Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), Laurens De Plus (Belgium), Bob Jungels (Luxembourg), James Knox (Great Britain), Enric Mas (Spain), Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecuador), Maximilian Schachmann (Germany) and Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic), riders who between them have scored more than 20 wins in the Quick-Step Floors jersey since the start of what has become a vintage season for the outfit managed by Patrick Lefevere, will be at the start of the World Road Race Championships this Sunday, which many have described as one of the most brutal in history the second the course was out, one year ago.
Austria has previously hosted the competition in 1987 (Villach) and 2006 (Salzburg), but neither of the previous routes featured so many meters of elevation (4 670) as this year's challenging race, which starts in the small town of Kufstein and heads west to Innsbruck, for six 23.9km laps and a long 31km one, which should play the decisive role in deciding the winner of the coveted rainbow jersey.
Measuring 2900 meters and averaging 11.5%, Höttinger Höll is the climb that at the end of the day should have its name inextricably linked to the one of the winner, as it will be used as launch pad by the riders gunning for glory. The narrow ascent which comes just eight kilometers from the finish – one of the most grueling in the history of the World Championships – pitches up at 28% and could lead to some significant gaps between the contenders, before the false flat taking to the top and the technical descent to Innsbruck.
Of the nine Quick-Step Floors riders at the start of the 258.5km-long race, six will compete in the road race for the first time in their career: Asgreen, De Plus and Schachmann – all three part of the winning roster in last Sunday's team time trial, where we captured a record fourth world title – Knox, Vuelta a España runner-up Mas, and Narvaez.
Since the inception of the team, 16 years ago, three Quick-Step Floors riders have won the gold medal in the road race on four occasions – 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2014 – making of our squad the only one this century to have enjoyed so many different victors at the World Championships.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images