The 2018 UCI Road World Championships will be held from the 22nd to 30th of September in Innsbruck, Austria. There will be four rainbow jerseys up for grabs: for the top male and female racer in both the time trial and the road race disciplines. Many riders participate, but in the end there are only a few serious jersey contenders. Below are the men that we at The Prologue think have a good chance.

The time trial

First, the time trial. This appears to be quite intense on paper, and includes a climb of 4.9km with an average gradient of 7.1 percent. But if you look at the elevation gain, this route goes up 495 vertical meters, compared to around 600 vertical meters in the World Championships in Bergen in 2017.

Photo: Cor Vos

Nevertheless, the climb this year will be a huge challenge as it looms after the riders have already blasted along for 30km or so. In a time trial you can’t afford to save energy, but if you’re already pushing your limit and then have to climb for almost 5km, you will have a problem. So it’s obvious that time trialists with serious climbing abilities are most likely to be major contenders. And those guys are Tom Dumoulin and Rohan Dennis.

Photo: Cor Vos

The latter has won more time trials this year, while Dumoulin performed extremely well in the general classification in two Grand Tours and won the final time trial in the Tour de France. Tom is also a rider who can challenge himself in these moments and can be cautious when necessary. It’s hard to pinpoint a clear favourite.

Behind this pair, we see potential in Primož Roglič as an outsider. He was disappointed with his final time trial in the Tour de France, a result which he put down to fatigue. But he has done well in other time trials, and he can also climb really well—he’s definitely a podium candidate. Other important riders to watch are Michal Kwiatkowski, Bob Jungels and Maciej Bodnar.

The road race

In recent years, the Road World Championships were held on a course that was not considered too harsh, so the win often went to the sprinters. Or Peter Sagan would take it—the world champion for no less than three years in a row. And yes, Sagan could win again this year, because the finish is about 8km from the last climb. If he is not held back, he could just win again.

Photo: Cor Vos

But, to be honest, Sagan is an outsider. The 2018 UCI Road World Championship winner will be someone who can handle intense climbs, manage the descents, have the stamina to survive 260km, and be the last one to push on a sprint to win the victory. In that respect, it might be a race written for Alejandro Valverde. But it will also be thrilling when Julian Alaphillipe, Promiz Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali get in the mix.

Photo: Cor Vos

The Dutch have a couple of potential winners to cheer on. Bauke Mollema and Tom Dumoulin are the big contenders. Mollema really has to push hard, because in the sprint he will probably lack explosive power. Dumoulin is a bit more powerful, but he’s strongest on long, regular climbs. The ones on the 2018 course are are a bit too short and aggressive for him though, we think. In addition to Mollema and Dumoulin, Wout Poels may be a contender. Often in the shadow at Team Sky, Poels could save the day for the Dutchies.

Photo: Cor Vos

Whatever the outcome, these men promise to make it a very exciting race on the 30th of September .