A World Cup like never before: all against Pogacar in Ímola

A World Cup like never before: all against Pogacar in Ímola

Mikel Landa and Enric Mas, after their great level on the Tour, accompany Alejandro Valverde in the World Cup, in which Alaphilippe, Van Aert and the winner in Paris start as favorites in Ímola

A World Cup like never before: all against Pogacar in Ímola

The world championship is usually a test in which only those who have prepared themselves to achieve a good state of form in an uncomfortable time of the calendar, after the Tour of Spain and with the Giro de Lombardia as the only one, harbor aspirations of victory. great test from then on. The World Cups always take place on these dates, only that under normal conditions many cyclists arrive at the end of September already very exhausted after six months of competition in the legs, many of them after having competed in two great tours. But in this 2020 in which so many things have changed, the World Championship takes on a new dimension, as it is held a week after the Tour and one before the Giro , with the Ardennes and Flanders classics also immediately awaiting their turn in the strange calendar that the damn pandemic has forced to compress to the maximum. The World Cup will be when always, yes, but also as never.

Because all these conditions cause many riders to arrive at Imola without having expressly prepared for the world championship, but with a good point of form because they still have it from the Tour or they already have it for the Giro. And, therefore, the list of favorites is more extensive than ever. Of the top 13 classified in the Tour, the only one who will not start this Sunday in Imola will be Adam Yates, ninth in Paris, an unusual event. And some of the hopefuls to win the Giro also sign up, like Fuglsang and Nibali. The great names that are missing are scarce and several, coincidence or not, are from Ineos: Froome, Thomas and Bernal . Apart from them, Simon Yates, Van der Poel and the injured Evenepoel will be missing. And Mads Pedersen, who will not try to revalidate the title achieved a year ago. Little more.

The list of medal candidates, in short, is as long as you want. And in it there must be no less than three Spanish merits, members of one of the most powerful teams in the running. As the great leader of the squad led by Pascual Momparler, he will officiate as usual, an Alejandro Valverde who at 40 and a half years still keeps the flame alive to feed his immense record. Due to the characteristics of the circuit, he is clearly the Spaniard with the most options, although the question remains as to whether he still has the capacity to compete with the best when the toughest attacks arrive. If you still have a spark, in short.

The tricks of Spain

The good news for Spain is that, unlike other years, in which Valverde was on his own merits, it was plan a, b and c, he has two alternative tricks in case the Murcian falters, something that, at his age, is the oldest. how many compete in this World Cup, nobody could blame him. Both Mikel Landa (4th) and Enric Mas (5th) finished the Tour a week ago with very good feelings and come to the World Championship highly motivated, especially the Alava, who at the age of 30 finally makes his debut in a world championship. For the Balearic, it will be his second participation, after helping Valverde to win 2018 in Innsbruck.

A World Cup like never before: all against Pogacar in Ímola

A World Cup like never before: all against Pogacar in Ímola

The national team is completed with Marc Soler, Pello Bilbao, Luis León Sánchez, David de la Cruz and Jesús Herrada, all of them after playing a notable role during the Tour, as the top four as gregarious and the manchego escaping. Versatile runners to work on a route of 258 kilometers, with nine laps of a circuit with two difficulties – Mazzolano and Gallisterna – of less than three kilometers and with an average unevenness of more than 7%, which ends at the Imola circuit.

The selections to watch will be those of almost always. Belgium presents a great team, with Wout Van Aert – silver time trial – as the spearhead and main favorite for gold on the road after the great level he showed on the Tour on all terrains, and Greg Van Avermaet in the breech. France has the trump card of Julian Alaphilippe, who seems to be underperforming in other seasons, but for whom the journey is a perfect fit. In Slovenia, Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic, first and second on the Tour, share stripes, as do Nibali and Ulissi in Italy. Fuglsang (Denmark), Dumoulin (Holland), Hirschi (Switzerland), Schachmann (Germany), Woods (Canada) and Kwiatkowski (Poland) also present their candidacy for a medal in one of the most open World Cups in recent times. Something good, even if it is so trivial, had to have the pandemic.

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