So, what's the course like? Flat and corner-y! Here are the maps, and let GCN tell you more:
This one is going to be shown live in many places, although if you're in the UK, like me, it may be on the BBC Red Button and their website (go to the Sports page and it should pop up once it starts) (Aussies, ask Dan what he thinks about it being on the internet only - scroll right down). Now, if you can't find coverage in your area, don't despair! First, go to the UCI's youtube and see if the live stream is available in your area (it may be georestricted) - if not, have a look for streams on Cycling Fans and Steephill - and there’ll be a live thread on Podium Café, where people share where to look, in the comments.
Following the race online
If you can't watch the race live for some reason, why not follow it on twitter? I’ve got a twitter list that is good for following races, which I add to as I see new accounts. And there's great tweeting from the official accounts – @Toscana2013 in Italian and @Toscana2013_eng in English.
Who will win?
My bet is Ellen van Dijk of Specialized-lululemon. The Spec-lulus have had a bad year for accidents, with Ina-Yoko Teutenberg still recovering from a serious head injury from the Drentse 8, and both Evie Stevens and Trixi Worrack had time out with injuries, but Van Dijk really stepped up to provide the results, with a spectacular run in the World Cups that left her 3rd overall in the series, lots of wins and the overall victory in the Boels Rental Ladies Tour - and a 2013 Worlds gold in the Team Time Trial. It would be a fantastic finish to her season to add a second gold to that.
But what has happened in equivalent ITTs? Is that a "heart over head" pick?
If we look for other near-length ITTs,
- Energiewacht Tour stage 3a, 21km: 1. Van Dijk (Ned), 2. Lisa Brennauer (Ger), 3. Shara Gillow (Aus)
- Borsele ITT, 19.5km (not UCI, but a great field) 1. Van Dijk, 2. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned), 3. Gillian Carleton (Can)
- Giro Rosa Stage 8, 18km: 1. Van Dijk, 2. Evelyn Stevens (USA), 3. Gillow
- Thüringen Rundfahrt Stage 4, 21km: 1. Gillow, 2. Van Dijk, 3. Emma Johansson (Swe)
- Tour Limousin Stage 2, 18km: 1. Tatiana Antoshina (Rus), 2. Katarzyna Pawlowska (Pol), 3. Edwige Pitel (Fra)
- Trophée d'Or Stage 2, 17.8km: 1. Marianne Vos (not racing Worlds ITT) 2. Antoshina, 3. Alexandra Burchenkova (Rus)
Hmm..... in flat races with technical sections, it looks like Van Dijk is the queen, with big competition from her team-mates Stevens - who last year could only be beaten by super-star Judith Arndt - and Brennauer, and from ORICA-AIS' Shara Gillow and Loes Gunnewijk, and the Russian Antoshina. BUT! This is Worlds, and strange things happen at Worlds.
The first thing to pay attention to are the riders we haven't seen much of this year. Linda Villumsen has been on the Worlds ITT podium every year since 2009, and she took a long break at the start of the season, starting back in the Giro Rosa in July. With a record like hers, you can never discount her.
Then there's a rider who has had an even longer break. After winning bronze in the Olympic Road Race AND ITT, Russian Olga Zabelinskaya has taken the year off, coming back only for the Chrono Champenois, where she was 5th, and the World TTT Champs, where she was 4th with RusVelo. She's SO strong - the 1997 Junior World ITT Champion and the European u23 ITT Champ in 2002, but she took a couple of years out to start a family... how will her form be?
Then there are always mystery riders who don't race in the peloton, but come out for Championships, and the one I'll be watching out for is Ukrainian Ganna Solovey. Solovey is somewhat controversial. After a glittering Junior career, including winning the European and World Junior ITT Championships in 2009 and 2010, in 2011, when she was 19, she was then caught taking the steroid drostanolone and banned for two years. She came back this year, just in time for the European u23 ITT Champs... which she won by a surprising 1'30" over Rossella Ratto in the 22.4km race, with a much bigger gap than between the other riders. That performance raised eyebrows - and raised the question, yet again, about what happens when teenagers are caught taking drugs - is there any investigation or sanction for coaches and doctors enabling that?
If you're wondering why there are no British riders, we did have a spot, but British Cycling chose not to use it. Why? We have no idea! Emma Pooley was on the long list, but decided to finish her PhD instead of riding - but what about riders like Julia Shaw and Jo Rowsell and a whole host of others? If you find out, let me know...
My bet's still Van Dijk to win, with the course suiting Gunnewijk and Lisa Brennauer a lot, and I'd like to see Evie and Shara on the podium, as a personal preference. If you want other people's opinions, there are previews on Velofocus and Velorooms - and tell me what you think in the comments or on twitter.