Thanks to FulGaz, I’ve just completed a full four-lap test ride of the Mount Pleasant City Circuit that will decide all the road races at the upcoming 2022 UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong. My ride was around 65km all up with 1,200 metres of climbing. The elite men will tackle this circuit 12 times, while for the women it’s 6 times.
Now that I’ve done it myself, my view is there’s no way a pure sprinter can win this World Championship in the men’s or women’s races. For those sprinters who have bothered coming, I think they’ll get over once, twice, maybe even three times, but when the screws are really being turned on the tricky (and extremely steep at times) climb up Ramah Avenue, they’ll be off the back and gone. I found it a deceptive climb, because it actually has three quite distinct parts. There’s a short sharp burst right at the start, with this beautiful white house on the right-hand side of the road. I think by that point, many of the sprinters will already be in trouble.
Then there’s a little downhill section, a sharp right-hand turn, and a left hander before the road really ramps up, 20% in a few places according to my ride data, for about half a kilometre. It’s not long, just brutal.
From an Australian perspective, I’m imagining Michael Matthews will really just be wanting to get over with the front group on that final lap. It’s about 7km from the top of Ramah Avenue to the finish line, so there’s a bit of time to get back on if you’re just off the back. But if you’re dropped, there’s no hope unless you’ve got a really good working group to help you – which, frankly, is unlikely after 260km. I can imagine a small group of riders including at least 2 or 3 of Julian Alaphilippe, Matthieu Van der Pol, Wout van Aert, Tadej Pogacar, Biniam Girmay and (fingers crossed) Matthews, all off the front, fighting it out all the way to the finish on the Wollongong beachfront. It could be epic.
It’s worth mentioning it’s also quite a technical finish with plenty of twists and turns to navigate, especially the last section coming down from the top of Ramah Avenue. For riders who’ve been on the rivet for a long time, there are ample opportunities to make mistakes with their lines through corners, so they’ll need to be very careful.
There’s been some talk the course would suit a rider that can win Milano Sanremo. I’d say yeah, sort of, except that it would have four Poggios in the last 20km, rather just one. Yes, the Poggio is much longer than Ramah Avenue, but it’s the accumulation of the multiple ascents that’s really going to decimate the peloton. There won’t be many riders left on the final lap, you can be almost certain of that.
Just finally, there’s also a little lump about 1.5km from the finish, it’s not much but it’s enough to launch a final last-ditch attack for a rider who perhaps doesn’t fancy their chances in a final sprint.
For my money, it’s Demi Vollering in the Women’s road race, and Tadej Pogacar in the Men’s. Can’t wait to get down there next week!