Jul 1, 2024 Canyon.com
Jul 1, 2024 Canyon.com

UCI Road World Championships 2024: Everything you need to know

Canyon riders Mathieu van der Poel and Chloe Dygert are set to defend their respective rainbow bands at the 2024 UCI Road World Championships in September. Find out everything you need to know about their prospects in Zurich, plus how to watch and when it’s on.

UCI Road World Championships 2024: Everything you need to know All information on the UCI Road World Championship

The UCI Road World Championships return in September 2024, with routes in and around the Swiss city of Zurich. Defending men’s road race World Champion Mathieu van der Poel will have his work cut out in the defence of his crown, while two-time ITT World Champion Chloe Dygart will look to secure a third triumph on an equally demanding course.  

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UCI Road World Championships 2024 in numbers

For the tenth time in history, the UCI Road World Championships head to Switzerland in 2024 with 12 events running from 22-29 September in and around the city of Zurich in the heart of the Swiss Alps.  

All eyes will be on Canyon’s emblematic rider Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Deceuninck as he bids to defend his rainbow jersey on a challenging course that features over 4,000m of climbing. The Dutchman soloed to glory in Glasgow from a field of 196 riders in 2023 in a race where just 50 other riders reached the finish. But Van der Poel will need to pull out all the stops this September on a 273.9km course that culminates with seven hilly laps of a tough 26.8km city circuit around Zurich.  

Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon//SRAM will look to return to the podium three years after taking a bronze medal in the women’s road race in Flanders in 2021. Meanwhile, the American Chloe Dygert, also of Canyon//SRAM, bids to take a third individual time trial title after doubling up in Glasgow in 2023.  

One hundred and one years after Zurich first hosted the World Championships, the Swiss city brings the world’s best riders together for a fourth time. All in all, there will be 12 events including elite road races and time trials, as well as junior and under 23 categories. Also running over the same period, but starting a day earlier, are the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships. 

In total, around 1,000 riders from about 75 nations will gather in Zurich for the UCI Road World Championships, joined by 300 athletes from almost 50 countries who will compete for honours on their tandems, handbikes, tricycles or racing bikes at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships. 

Host for the UCI Road Championchips 2024 - Switzerland Host for the UCI Road Championchips 2024 - Switzerland

When is the UCI Road World Championships 2024?

The exciting program of 12 events runs from Sunday 22 September 2024 to Sunday 29 September 2024. The schedule is as follows: 

  • 22 September 2024: women and men elite individual time trials 
  • 23 September 2024: men junior and under 23 individual time trials 
  • 24 September 2024: women junior individual time trial 
  • 25 September 2024: men elite and women elite team time trial mixed relays 
  • 26 September 2024: women and men junior roaned races 
  • 27 September 2024: men under 23 road race 
  • 28 September 2024: women elite road race 
  • 29 September 2024: men elite road race 

A total of 53 road races and para-cycling contests will also take place from Saturday 21 September 2024 to Sunday 29 September 2024. 

Where is the UCI Road World Championships 2024

Sandwiched between championships in Glasgow, United Kingdom and the first ever UCI World Championships in Africa, at Kigali in Rwanda, Zurich hosts the World Championships for the fourth time in history. The Swiss city will hold the time trial events while the road races will run through the neighbouring Alpine foothills before finishing in Zurich. 

Brief history and main storylines 

Alejandro Valverde triumphed in the elite men's road race at the 2018 UCI World Championships, capturing his first world title. The Spanish cyclist secured the victory in a thrilling sprint finish, solidifying his place among the sport's greats after years of near-misses at the championships. 

In 2023, the men’s road race in Glasgow was won by the flying Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Deceuninck aboard his Aeroad .  

Van der Poel rode clear of a select group of favourites with a huge attack on a steep climb more than 20km from the finish line. Despite a late crash on a tight corner, the 29-year-old held on to win by the best part of two minutes. It was his first world title on the road after being crowned cyclocross World Champion six times.  

Although one of the best puncheurs in the peloton, Van der Poel may find the sheer volume of climbing in Zurich a bridge too far in his bid for a second successive crown. But the Canyon figurehead has a knack of rising to the occasion and it would be folly to rule out a rider in such a rich and prolonged vein of form. Prior to the Tour de France, Van der Poel won three of his seven races, including a double over the cobblestones of Flanders and Roubaix. Talk about panache! 

In the women’s road race, Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon//SRAM will look to build on her solid season on a course that plays to her strengths. Winner of La Flèche Wallonne, runner-up in the Tour of Flanders, and fifth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Polish puncheuse has shown she can excel over tough, hilly courses this season. A bronze medalist in 2021, Niewiadoma will be eyeing a return to the podium in Zurich. She’s also also the current UCI Gravel World Champion, which may give her that extra bit of confidence – having won the rainbow bands once already.  

Niewiadoma’s Canyon//SRAM team-mate Chloe Dygert will also be among the favourites in the women’s individual time trial. Four years after her breakthrough victory in Yorkshire, the American doubled up with a gold medal at Glasgow after battling back from a career-threatening crash in 2020. All talk will be of a potential rainbow hat-trick for the 27-year-old this September.   

Mathieu van der Poel wins the elite men’s road race at the UCI World Championships (2023) Mathieu van der Poel wins the elite men’s road race at the UCI World Championships (2023)

UCI Road World Championships 2024 routes

It’s easy to see why the route of the men’s road race has been compared to Liège-Bastogne-Liège given its 273.9km length and total elevation of 4,470 meters. Starting northwest of Zurich in Winterthur, the race kicks off with an undulating northerly loop around the Alpine foothills before heading south via three moderate climbs. 

After 85km the riders will cross the finish line beside Lake Zurich to start the first of seven 26.8km laps. Each lap incorporates two significant climbs – with a maximum gradient of almost 16% – and several smaller ramps. The finish line comes after a flat 2km section following the descent from the last climb. 

The women’s elite riders will complete four laps of the same circuit at the end of a 157.6km race that starts to the east of Zurich in Uster.  

With so much climbing in the parcours, it will be interesting to see if riders opt for the pure speed of the Aeroad, the bike that van der Poel won on last season, or the perfectly balanced all-round performance of the Ultimate

The historic open-air Oerlikon Velodrome hosts the start of the men’s individual time trial. The 46.1km race of truth is mainly flat yet still has a total elevation gain of 413 meters. Four short hills of varying difficulty come at the halfway point of the course ahead of the flat run to the finish along the shores of the picturesque Lake Zurich. The women’s 29.9km course starts in Gossau with a shorter ride ahead of the same four hills and flat finale.  

More details of the routes and profiles for each of the 12 events during the UCI Road World Championships 2024 are available on the official Zurich 2024 website.

Chloe Dygert wins the individual pursuit at the Cycling World Championships in 2023 Chloe Dygert wins the individual pursuit at the Cycling World Championships in 2023

What do the riders say?

Mathieu van der Poel has been taking each race as it comes during a pared-back but highly successful season in cycling’s most iconic jersey. Back during the winter break, he said: “I just want to enjoy my year in the rainbow jersey and confirm all the good things I did in 2023."  

After the Tour de France in July, the Dutchman will target the Olympics before weighing up his options ahead of the World Championships. 

What to expect at the UCI Road World Championships 2024

Catching a glimpse of future stars in the making – as well as riders from all over the globe – are among the main appeals of the UCI Road World Championships thanks to a busy program that also includes junior and under 23 events. But it’s the elite men and women who grab most attention – and all eyes will be on van der Poel in his bid to secure the rainbow bands for the second successive season.  

The World Championships also create a fascinating dynamic that is uncommon to road cycling, with riders competing in national teams rather than for their professional squads. That means riders from different trade teams, using different bikes, unified in their effort to represent their country.  

It also leads to uneven team sizes, with the best-performing countries according to the UCI rankings being given more spots on the start list than other, smaller nations. This can sometimes give the Championships a ‘closed’ feeling, with the same strong nations typically doing well and less-established countries relegated to chasing breakaways. You have to look back to 2009 to find a men’s road race champion who did not come from Europe. On the women’s side it has been 44 years since a non-European won the road race at Worlds.  

Canyon at the UCI Road World Championships

The road race routes in Zurich are far hillier than those in Glasgow last year where Canyon athletes scooped 12 gold medals and recorded 23 podium places, so, the swashbuckling Dutch defending champion will have his work cut out. 

Other Canyon riders to keep a look out for in the men’s road race include Italian climber Davide Formolo of Team Movistar and his trade team-mate Enric Mas, the Spaniard who has finished runner-up in La Vuelta no less than three times.  

If you tune in early, you may even catch a glimpse of local rider Silvan Dillier of Alpecin-Deceuninck, who will look to get into the breakaway on his home roads in Switzerland.  

After such a successful Ardennes campaign, Niewiadoma should be a serious contender in the women’s road race, while trade team-mate Dygert will be among the favorites for time trial glory. Dygert’s career was on the line after sustaining horrific injuries in a high-speed crash as she sought to defend her 2019 world title in Italy in 2020. An historic third win would cap an extraordinary comeback for the American. 

It’s also worth keeping tabs on a third Canyon//SRAM rider in Zoe Bäckstedt. While it is not yet known if Bäckstedt will compete in the elite or under 23 categories, the 19-year-old Briton was the double junior champion in 2022 and has the pedigree for success (her father, Magnus, won Paris-Roubaix in 2004). 

Katarzyna Niewiadoma wins a bronze medal in the women’s road race at the 2021 UCI Road World Championships Katarzyna Niewiadoma wins a bronze medal in the women’s road race at the 2021 UCI Road World Championships

How to watch the UCI Road World Championships 2024

The UCI Road World Championships are readily available across several platforms, including the UCI’s own website and YouTube channel as well as international broadcasters such as Discovery (which includes Eurosport). Terrestrial channels – such as the BBC in the United Kingdom and Sporza in Belgium – often also air the headline events.  

Can’t wait for September for a fix of the world’s best road racers? Check out our guides to the men’s Tour de France 2024 and the Tour de France Femmes kicking off in July! There’s also the UCI MTB World Championships, which feature cross-country, downhill and e-cross-country which happen 28 Aug - 01 Sep in Pal Arinsal, Andorra.  

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