Julian Alaphilippe‘s winning momentum is rolling straight into the upcoming men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships. He will line up for the elite event in Innsbruck, Austria, on Sunday as the favourite to win the world title, but, if he doesn’t succeed, there’s a good chance that one of his teammates – Romain Bardet or Thibaut Pinot – will be there to take the rainbow jersey home to France.

“I’m very relaxed and excited, and I’m looking forward to getting to the start,” Alaphilippe told Cyclingnews from the SportHotel in Igls, located halfway up the mountainside from Innsbruck and overlooking the Bergisel Ski Jump used during the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games.

“There aren’t 50 riders that can win on this parcours,” he said. “For sure, I want to do my best because I’m motivated. It’s going to be a really hard race. We have strong riders in the French team, but for sure, I’m motivated, and I want to come back home with no regrets, so I will give my best.”

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France last won the elite men’s road race world title when Laurent Brochard took the gold medal in San Sebastian in 1997. Over the last 60 years, there have been seven French winners in Luc Leblanc (1994), Bernard Hinault (1980), Jean Stablinski (1962), André Darrigade (1959), Louison Bobet (1954) and Antonin Magne (1936), while the first of them was Georges Speicher in 1933.

The course in Innsbruck is thought to be one of the toughest in the history of the championship event. A long race at 258.5km on a parcours that includes one long loop from Kurstein and takes the field up to Gnadenwald – a steep 5km ascent. They then descend onto the six shorter circuits around Innsbruck, routed over the climb to Igls.

The toughest challenge comes at the end of the race, where the course kicks up over the final Höll climb, with pitches as steep as 25 per cent, before the descent to the finish line in downtown Innsbruck. 

Pure climbers

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