In 2022, the Road World Championships will be held from September 18 to 25 in Wollongong, Australia. The Road World Championships routes for the elite women’s and men’s races – which will be held on September 24 and 25 respectively – are made up of two key elements: the Mount Keira Loop and the Wollongong City Circuit. Both races will complete one Mount Keira Loop before the men’s peloton tackle 12 city laps in Wollongong while the women complete six. The U23 and junior races will be held on the Wollongong circuit in their entirety.
AusCycling has created routes which are well-suited to the puncheurs of the peloton. The riders who succeed the current world champions, Elisa Balsamo and Julian Alaphilippe, will need to cope with repeated, tough accelerations on a course which is going to be a battle of attrition. The city circuit is 17.7km long and has 220m of climbing elevation per lap. Most of this elevation comes from the Mount Pleasant climb which spans 1.1 km with an average gradient of 7.7% and a maximum incline of 14%. Each lap, this is going to sting the rider’s legs and it will only get harder as the races drag on.
The city roads on the circuits around Wollongong are also tight and complicated, with twists, turns and road furniture to navigate. Team organisation in the lead up to Mount Pleasant is going to be crucial, and we can expect to see a big fight to the base of the climb each lap. Before the elite riders even get to this point, though, they have Mount Kiera to contend with, a 8.7km long climb with an average gradient of 5% and slopes at 15%. Though this comes too early in the elite men's and women's races to be decisive, it could be the end of some rider's chances of going for the victory and will add to the accumulation of fatigue that is going to build throughout the day’s racing.
It’s fair to say that whoever pulls on the rainbow stripes after the races in Wollongong will be a deserved winner: it’s going to be one of the toughest World Championships in recent history. The men’s event has a total elevation gain of close to 4000m, on par with a mountain stage in the Tour de France. For fans, it’s going to be a spectacle too, the route invites attacking, aggressive racing and the Worlds always provides a suitable amount of drama.
To discover the full courses for the men's and women's elite individual time trial world championships, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
UCI Road World Championships 2022 elite men’s road race map and profile
Date: September 25, 2022
Start time: 10:15 AEST (1:15 GMT)
Finish time (approx): 16:51 AEST (7:51 GMT)
Elevation gain: 3954m
The men’s World Championships road race will start in the town of Helensburgh, located south of Sydney and north of Wollongong where the race will eventually reach its conclusion. The day begins with a 6.9km neutral section in which the riders descend to Stanwell Park where the official start will be given. From then, there are 27.7 kilometres of rolling roads to the base of Mount Keira – the riders will pass the finish line in Wollongong for the first time before they begin the climb. During these early flat kilometres we can expect to see a fight for the breakaway to establish itself.
The Mount Keira Loop is 34.2 kilometres long with 473 metres of elevation gain up the mountain itself. Mount Keira starts off hard straight away with the second kilometre averaging over ten percent. From then, it settles into a steady rhythm before kicking up again through kilometres five and six. The maximum gradient on the climb is 15%, and the current KOM time on Strava is just under 17 minutes. It will be interesting to see which teams are keen to split things up so early in the race – there will still be 225 kilometres remaining when they reach the climb.
Once Mount Keira is complete, the peloton will descend the south side of the mountain to Spring Hill before hitting the first of the twelve Wollongong City Circuit laps after 62 kilometres of racing. A small rise up Mount Ousley is the first obstacle in the lap and is simply a warm-up for Mount Pleasant which follows.
The climb’s name is almost cruel when looking at its gradients and the riders will find the beastly kicker far from pleasant, especially when they are riding it for the tenth or 11th time. The ascent is 1.1km long with an average gradient of 7.7% but it hits a maximum of 14% after just 300 metres. Once they crest Mount Pleasant, the riders have a technical and windy descent back to the coast which will make it tough for anyone who has lost contact on the climb to make it back to the peloton.
Once the road flattens out again, there is roughly five kilometres of the lap remaining which will be the stage for the race’s grand finale. It’s unknown if we’ll see a reduced peloton or a breakaway come to the finish line in Wollongong, but we can be sure that not all riders will even be able to finish this savage route. It’s a race that could be one for riders who normally thrive in the hillier classics and it will reward risky, aggressive tactics.
UCI Road World Championships 2022 elite women’s road race map and profile
Date: September 24, 2022
Start time: 12:25 AEST (3:25 GMT)
Finish time (approx): 16:58 AEST (7:58 GMT)
Elevation gain: 2433m
The women’s peloton will follow the same route as the men for the entire opening 61.9 kilometres, also tackling the brutal Mount Keira early on in their race. However, due to the race’s shorter distance, Mount Keira comes closer to the end of the women’s race – they will crest the climb with 122km remaining. While this is still a long way out to go for any attacks, there has been a growing trend in the women’s peloton for long range efforts – think Anna Kiesenhofer’s solo victory at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – so there is a chance that we could see some decisive moves on Mount Keira in the women’s event.
When they reach the Wollongong City Circuit, the women’s peloton will tackle six laps, amounting to a total race distance of 164.3 kilometres. This means that the World Championships women's road race is still one of the longest one-day races on the women's racing calendar. We can expect the likes of Annemiek van Vleuten, Lotte Kopecky, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Demi Vollering to thrive on the punchy, tough circuit around Wollongong.
UCI Road World Championships 2022 U23 men’s road race
Date: September 23rd 2022
Start time: 13:00 AEST (4:00 GMT)
Finish time (approx): 17:10 AEST (8:10 GMT)
Elevation gain: 2520m
The U23 men’s event at the World Championships is one of the biggest opportunities that U23 riders have to show themselves on a global scale. Last year, the race was won by 21-year-old Italian rider Filippo Baroncini who rides for WorldTour team Trek-Segafredo.
In Wollongong, the men’s U23 event will be run on the city circuit entirely as the U23 riders take on 10 laps, amounting to a total distance of 169.8km and total elevation gain of 2520m. U23 women are still without a standalone event at the World Championships, and the jersey for the best U23 female rider will be awarded to the highest-placed U23 finisher in the elite women’s race. The UCI have announced that a U23 women’s World Championship race will be introduced in 2025.
2022 UCI Road World Championships junior women’s and men’s road races
The junior men’s race will take place on the September 23 and cover eight laps of the Wollongong City Circuit which is a total distance of 135.6 kilometres with 2016m of elevation gain.
One day later, on the September 24, the junior women’s will tackle four laps of the Wollongong City Circuit. Their race will finish a few hours before the elite women’s and will cover a total distance of 67.2 kilometres with a total elevation gain of 1008 metres.
2022 UCI Road World Championships elite men and women’s time trial map and route
WOMEN'S INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL
Date: September 18, 2022
Start time: 9:35 AEST (23:35 GMT)
Finish time (approx): 12:30 AEST (2:30 GMT)
Elevation gain: 312m
MEN'S INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL
Date: September 18, 2022
Start time: 13:40 AEST (03:40 GMT)
Finish time (approx): 18:00 AEST (8:00 GMT)
Elevation gain: 312m
Both the elite men's and women's categories will tackle a technical and demanding 16.8 kilometre loop twice around Wollongong's city centre, amounting to a total distance of 34.2 kilometres. The route features roughly 30 corners meaning that good bike handling capabilities are going to be crucial to securing a good result here.
The route isn't completely flat, there is one small hill on each lap – Mount Ousley. This isn't as challenging as the Mount Pleasant climb that the riders will tackle in the road race, but it could still test the legs as fatigue starts to kick in. With a total elevation gain of 312 metres, it's a rolling loop which is going to be about more than just power. The winner will need to be well-rounded and able to execute a technically sound time trial.