2023 World Championships – Elite Men Road Race Preview

Edinburgh > Glasgow 270km

Welcome to Glasgow, you’ll be dizzy by the finish! The world championship road race is here. The day starts out in Edinburgh, then over the new Forth road bridge into Fife, before heading back over the Forth via the Kincardine Bridge, then it’s over to Glasgow, via the north of the city, before 10 laps of a crazy circuit in Glasgow. The race is 270km long and features 3667m of climbing, which means it’s a tough day in the saddle, especially considering the lack of any long climbs. 

Glasgow is my city, I was born there, went to university there and have spent a large proportion of my adult life drinking in pubs there! I’m very proud to be seeing the world championships here, I’ll be going through to watch it with my own eyes. Montrose Street will be my spot, I used to walk up that bugger of a hill going to uni each day, I can’t wait to see just how fast the pros smash up it. 


There’s been a lot of interest in the weather forecast, and as it constantly changes in this part of the world, it can’t be trusted until the day of the race. Currently, it looks like a 40% chance of showers during the afternoon. If you are caught in a shower, it will be quite heavy, but it will pass.  

Lap Circuit 

I count 40 corners of 90 degrees. Glasgow, like many cities, is based on a grid system. The riders will hop about this grid in a real-life version of Mario Kart. In the 14.2km lap, there are six main climbs, all of which are short and steep. In order they are: 

St Vincent Street – 550m at 5.7%.

University Avenue – 250m at 6%.

Great George Street – 350m at 7.6%.

Kelvingrove Park – 350m at 6.8%.

Scott Street – 200m at 10%..

Montrose Street – 200m at 13%. It’s just 1.5km from the finish.

Please note, the climbs are so short that exact length/gradient isn’t always spot on. 


Is it the CX world championships? Many have compared the lap circuit to a cross race, and they are correct. A lot of focus is on the punchy climbs, but the corners and descents are just as important. The riders must do 400 right angle corners during the circuits, that’s insane. Someone who is good at cornering will love this route, those who struggle a little have no chance. 

With rain likely to fall, there is a very dangerous section on city centre slabs. The route takes the bunch up Buchanan Street and along West Nile Street, both of which are pedestrianised. The slabs (not cobbles) that are used are very shiny and extremely slippy when wet (nod to Bon Jovi), I do have my worries about everyone staying upright. I really hope crashes don’t have an impact on the race, but given all the corners, I think it’s quite likely we’ll see several slips and spills.  

The race could explode at any point, when will Remco make his move? As the climbs are short, there’s every chance the moves go on the flat or descents, the perfect spot should be just over the crest of a climb, when everyone else is in the red. Remco impressed in San Sebastian, and he’s the only rider who can stop Tour Legs from winning this race. He gives Belgium a brilliant attacking option, but what will Wout’s role be? In the past, he’s ended up getting blocked in the peloton, he’ll hope that as Philipsen is also here, he can attack from distance and not wait for an unlikely sprint. 

Make no mistake, the route is perfect for van der Poel, he’s the best at cornering in the pro peloton. With the Tour in his legs, he’s going to be very hard to beat in this race, but he will be worried about Evenepoel. It’s up to the Dutch to hold the race together for as long as necessary, van der Poel will never have a better chance of becoming the world champion.  

It does look like a fight between Belgium and Netherlands, but Denmark will also look to be in the mix. They’ve got a strong team, and consistently perform well in this race, and they’ve got a wonderful option in Mads Pedersen.  

Okay, so how will the race go? It’s going to be controlled by the big nations, but once we hit the lap circuit, the shit will hit the fan. This is going to be a race of attrition, especially if the rain falls, don’t expect it to end in a sprint finish. This is a day where the big names of the sport will take huge chunks out of each other. In amongst all the fighting, riders will need to remember to eat and drink. I know it’s boring to mention it, but this is a vital part of the day, especially in the circuit. With so many corners, riders need to think carefully about when they feed. 


Mathieu van der Poel – if you could design a route which is perfect for him, this would be it. Without a shadow of a doubt, he’s the best at cornering in the peloton, the difference between him and the rest is huge. This race will test your bike handling skills to the max, I don’t see it being a problem for him, his main issue will be the strength of the Belgian team, and a certain Remco Evenepoel. Mathieu has faced Wout so many times that I don’t think he fears him, but Evenepoel brings a danger that van der Poel cannot combat, this is where he needs his team. If Evenepoel goes with 50km to go, what will he do? Now, van der Poel has never been afraid of attacking early himself, maybe he’ll fight this by going long and trying to put everyone else under pressure. He arrives here after doing the Tour, where he didn’t perform at his best, but I think that will help him. Mathieu has saved up a whole box of matches to use in this race. 

Remco Evenepoel – since the start of 2022 he’s raced in 6 races over 225km or more, he’s won all 6 of them. That type of record in one-day races is almost unbelievable, he’s a different beast in a long race. These wins have come twice in Liège and San Sebastian and once in last year’s worlds and this year’s Belgian road race, and he’s won them in different ways. Normally speaking, a race at this point in the year would be won by a rider who did the Tour, but he changes all of that. They might have Tour Legs, but he’s got Remco Legs! I’m interested to see when he goes, on a circuit like this, if he gets a gap he won’t be caught. Of course, they’ll all be waiting for his attack, so he needs to be clever about it and not signpost his move.  

Wout Van Aert – in contrast to Remco, his record in long one-day races since 2022 isn’t very good, he’s only won once in eleven races. That record should really be two from eleven, but he gifted a win to Laporte in this year’s Gent-Wevelgem. It’s often thought that Wout lacks a little edge in longer races, there’s definitely something to that chain of thought. This year, he went a bit easier in the Tour de France, hoping that he’d be much stronger in the second half of the season, this race is a big target for him. We’ll see how he approaches it, the presence of Philipsen surely means he can attack and not wait for a sprint, which should increase his chances of winning. Wout and Remco haven’t always worked well together, I’d love to sit in during the tactics chat in the Belgium team bus. 

Tadej Pogačar – another rider who has an amazing record in one-day races, no matter the distance. The route doesn’t really suit him, but if he has Tour Legs, he’ll be incredibly strong. I think he’ll attack from distance and see what happens. One thing we know about Tadej, he’s a born racer, I can’t wait to see him in action.  

Mads Pedersen – got his win in the Tour de France, but apart from that stage, I don’t think he ever looked at his very best. Maybe it’s because of the 12 stages he did at the Giro, but I think something was missing in France. He heads here as the leader of a strong Danish team, and with rain forecasted, he should be in the mix for the win. 

Christophe Laporte – brilliant at the Tour, he’s my outsider for this race. He was 2nd last year; it wouldn’t be a surprise if he walked away from Glasgow with the rainbow jersey.  

Jasper Philipsen – is he really the third option for Belgium? Philipsen has been brilliant this year, but he’s yet to challenge in a race of this difficulty, and I don’t see it starting this weekend. 

Prediction Time 

What time is it? It’s Remco time.