2014 Cycling World Championships
by John Bascombe on Monday, September 15, 2014
Zurich, Copenhagen, Montreal, Barcelona, Lisbon, Budapest, Rome and now, Ponferrada. Ponferrada? Yes, that Little town with a gentle microclimate tucked within the harsh hills of León, Spain. September of 2014 will mark its entry into the pantheon of cities that have hosted cycling's UCI Road World Championships.
This week-long event will see crowned the world champions in time trial, individual time trial and road race in courses that are located in and around Ponferrada. The winners will then be able to wear the coveted rainbow jersey for a year until the next championship.
History of the UCI Road World Championship
1921 is the year the first world championship took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. At that race only amateurs participated and it wasn’t until 1927 that professionals began to take part when it was held in Nürburgring, Germany. 1927 would also mark the beginning of the awarding of gold, silver and bronze medals as well as the concession of the easily identifiable rainbow jersey that only the world champions are permitted to wear. The first road race winner was Italian Alfredo Binda while some other notable champions have been Greg Lemond (USA), Eddy Merckx (BEL), Bernard Hinault (FRA) and Miguel Indurain (SPA) among others.
The race is exciting since the courses are relatively short and multiple laps must be completed for the individual road events. This offers the crowd an opportunity to appreciate and see the world's best cyclist more than they would in a normal road race. Also, because of the different categories of racing (currently 12 categories) there is no shortage of excitement for the duration of the championship.
Spain in the Championship
Spain has been always been a country involved in cycling, you only have to hear the names Bahamontes and Ocaña, but the real "boom" in Spanish cycling came with the arrival of Miguel Indurain. This five-time consecutive Tour de France winner launched Spanish cycling to the front of the cycling world, which also coincided with the resurgent post-dictatorship Spain. In some ways, Miguel Indurain embodied Spain and its reemergence as a country on the world stage. Although Indurain never won the individual road race championship (he did place second in 1993 and 1995 as well as third in 1992), he has won the rainbow jersey in the time trial event. It should also be noted that Spaniard Abraham Olano won the individual road race 1995.
Since then, Oscar Freire has won three world championships (1999, 2001 and 2004) tying him with Binda, Merckx and Van Steenbergen for the most championships won. Igor Astarloa won in 2003 adding to the exceptional success of Spain in the world championships over the last 30 years. Spain today occupies fifth place in the medal count with a total of 22 medals won.
Beating out competing cities Chihuahua in Mexico, Vendee in France and Hooglede-Gits in Belgium; Ponferrada was chosen in 2011 to host the world championships. Over 1000 volunteers will participate in the event as a show of the local support given to hosting this unique and exciting sporting event. Over 42 broadcasters will go to Ponferrada to transmit this event around the world.
All of the races will start and finish next to the El Toralín football stadium in the northern part of Ponferrada. There are different courses for each time trial category and these are only raced over one lap only. The course planned for the men's time trial is 35.5 miles (57 km) and winds through the fields and vinyards of the Bierzo (the name of the region given to this part of León). The women's time trial course 22.5 miles (36 km) and circles around the city of Ponferrada.
The road race course is the same for all of the categories with the only difference being the number of laps each group will complete. Legendary cyclist Miguel Indurain has said of the course in Ponferrada that "it isn't especially difficult but it is complicated". He says this because this course has an excellent combination of city streets and tight country roads. Because of this unique layout, it will be particularly difficult for riders to eat which is necessary for them to maintain their strength during the race. Normally, to eat while riding requires a road without many complications—something easy to find on a long tour stage. The difference here is that the city of Ponferrada is full of traffic circles and tight turns--there are no big long boulevards to be found in this small city. Also, the roads that wind through the hills outside of the city are narrow and very technical, requiring the rider's concentration and skill to keep from going off or going into somebody.
Considering this, we shouldn't be surprised to see some of riders "bonk" during the road race part of the championship. Bonking is the term riders give to the process of the body running out of "fuel" during a race. In a normal stage of a road race, the body of an average cyclist requires approximately 3,500 to 4,000 calories in addition to the 1,500 to 2,000 calories of a normal diet; that means an average professional cyclist needs to consume 5,000 to 6,000 calories in one day. During a stage, a rider will need consume around 2,500 hundred calories while on the bike!
An unlikely city to host a grand world championship but, with its castle built by the Knights Templar overlooking the River Sil, this wonderfully charming city will be the focus of the cycling world for 7 days and join likes of Prague, Madrid and Oslo in having hosted a UCI Road World Championships.
Keywords: ponferrada,ponferrada spain,cycling world championships,cycling world,uci road world championships