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Copenhagen Worlds: Sprinters' Course, Right?

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Worlds11_mediumRemember a year ago when the conventional wisdom shifted in favor of saying that the Geelong course's two climbs would eliminate the sprinters, only to see most of the races won in a sprint? First it was "Geelong is for sprinters," then "well, maybe not, but Copenhagen is for sprinters." Well... Copenhagen is for sprinters. Really strong ones.

This will come as a surprise to pretty much nobody -- it's Denmark, and people have been talking for some time about this being the "Sprinters' Worlds." But with the exception of Zolder, the Cipollini Fix, Worlds courses are never especially simple. So let's dig a bit more into the details as we get ready for one of the most exciting weeks of the season...

Let's start with the basics: the profile FAIL...

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This graphic shows the profile of the finishing circuit (done 17 times), which apparently traverses the Sawtooth Range. Except the vertical axis is tens of meters and the horizontal is kilometers. That blip between km 2.7 and 3.2? That's maybe a 25 meter rise in 500 meters, or roughly 5%. The finale? Another 20 meter rise in half a km (4%). That's climbing to you and me, maybe, but it's the big ring for these guys. See the roads themselves:

It's not flat, but for the purposes of creating separation, it might as well be. But that doesn't mean it'll be easy. As opposed to recent circuits where the gradients assured a hard race, this year the race might be hard, if it's ridden hard. 260km will always hurt some, and if the peloton is powering over these small ups and downs all day, they will take their toll. The difference with past circuits is that if the race tempo isn't hard, the course itself won't hurt anybody.

The other factor is wind. Weather for Copenhagen so far calls for lots of dreariness and winds between 15-20 mph. Saturday and Sunday aren't predictable yet, but if the pattern holds, crosswinds could break things up, or at least cost people a lot of watts in the process of staying together. Team support and positioning will be huge. A bunch sprint is likely and a fast finisher will probably take it, but whoever wins will be a strong hombre.

The time trial course is around downtown Copenhagen, and boasts exactly no climbing whatsoever. The men's course appears to have about 14 or so corners, depending on which ones count, but I wouldn't call it especially technical, as far as the map is concerned. Not sure about the surface. But mostly it's flat, has plenty of straightaways, and subject to wind. Again, the strong will survive. Weather could play an even bigger role, if conditions change during the day, but it's an out-and-back loop, a mix of head-, cross- and tailwinds, so if the wind merely changes direction, the net effect might be nothing.

Official site here. Copenhagen is quite possibly the world's bikingest city, now that Beijing is all cars, so even if the course seems bland, the celebration will be in full gear.