UCI Road World Championships 2016: women’s road race – preview

Can Lizzie Deignan become the first British woman to win back-to-back elite road titles?

Lizzie Deignan bids to become the first British rider to ever win two consecutive elite world titles on the road in the women’s road race in Doha’s UCI Road World Championships on Saturday.

Deignan – formerly Armitstead – won gold in Richmond last year and bagged seven victories in her year in the rainbow jersey, including at the Tour of Flanders and Aviva Women’s Tour.

And while both Nicole Cooke and Lucy Garner have previously won back-to-back world titles as juniors, Deignan will bid to make British history in the desert as the first to do so in the elite races.

Lizzie Deignan could become the first British woman to win two consecutive elite world road races (pic: Sirotti)

Deignan’s season threatened to be derailed when it was revealed she had avoided a doping ban after three ‘whereabouts’ failures ahead of Rio 2016 – the first of which was scratched from the record after an appeal to CAS.

But since marrying Team Sky rider Philip, the Yorkshirewoman has been back on form, helping Boels-Dolmans win the team time trial on Sunday to kick-start her Worlds in style.

Nevertheless, she faces stiff competition in the desert with plenty of riders in good form and bidding to pull on the rainbow stripes.

Let’s take a closer look…

The course

The women’s race covers 134.5km in all, rolling out from the Qatar foundation on flat roads before heading to the circuit on the artificial Pearl-Qatar island.

Covering 28.1km, the first part of the course is largely flat, straight and wide open before they arrive at the circuit which will also be used by the men the following day.

The women’s road race features a short ride through the wide-open desert roads before seven laps of the Pearl-Qatar circuit (pic: UCI/Doha 2016)

The women will ride seven laps of the 15.2km circuit, where wind is like to be less of a factor than in the first part of the race.

With no climbs in Qatar, the race is expected to come down to a bunch sprint, finishing at close to 4.20pm local time – though there are suggestions the race could be shortened due to the stifling heat.

Great Britain team

Defending champion Lizzie Deignan spearheads Great Britain’s bid for another rainbow jersey, but she is not the only Brit who could find themselves in the mix.

National champion Hannah Barnes and younger sister Alice are also in the British line-up (pic: Alex Whitehead/

Two-time junior world champion, and sprinter, Lucy Garner has not been selected but British champion Hannah Barnes is a possible ‘plan B’, as is Dani King, both of whom are likely to play a key part in the British lead-out.

Great Britain line-up for women’s world road race: Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans), Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling Team), Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), Dani King (Wiggle-High5), Laura Massey (Drops Cycling Team), Annasley Park (GB Academy), Abby-Mae Parkinson (Servetto Footon), Eileen Roe (Lares-Waowdeals).

The contenders

Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain)

Great Britain’s defending champion Lizzie Deignan boasts a fast enough finish to win in Doha, and has enjoyed success in Qatar before.

Rewind to the start of the season, and Lizzie Armitstead was in supreme form, winning the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Tour of Flanders.

She followed that up with victory in the Boles Rental Hills Classic, and then won a stage and the yellow jersey at the Aviva Women’s Tour.

Lizzie Deignan (then Armitstead) celebrates winning the world road race last year (pic: Sirotti)

After it was revealed she had escaped a doping ban for three ‘whereabouts failures’, however, the momentum of her season was halted.

Nevertheless, now married and back on top of the podium when Boels-Dolmans won the team time trial to kick-start the World Championships, Deignan is very much a rider to watch.

She will not be favourite in a bunch sprint, but her victories earlier in the season showed she is canny enough, and definitely strong enough, to attack earlier if needs be too.

Deignan’s also enjoyed success in Qatar before – the 27-year-old won two stages and the overall title at the 2015 Ladies Tour of Qatar.

Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)

The Dutch aren’t short of options in Qatar – their team includes three-time former world champion Marianne Vos for starters.

Vos is a serious contender in her own right, having returned from a long injury lay-off to bag nine victories in 2016, but few riders have enjoyed Qatar in the past like Kirsten Wild.

Kirsten Wild has enjoyed plenty of success in Qatar before now (pic: Kare Dehlie Thorstad/ASO)

The 33-year-old is a four-time winner of the Ladies Tour of Qatar, and has also bagged ten stage wins and topped the points classification six times in the Qatari desert.

There’s no question she’s fast enough either, as British fans know well after Wild’s victories at the Women’s Tour de Yorkshire and RideLondon Classique this season.

Wild headed to the track thereafter, finishing sixth in the omnium at Rio 2016, but is back on the road now and very much back in the mix.

Chloe Hosking (Australia)

With seven victories to her name in 2016, this season has been 26-year-old Australian Chloe Hosking’s best to date.

No Australian has ever claimed the women’s road world title, but Hosking has announced herself as a contender with a series of impressive results – not least victory in July’s La Course by Le Tour de France in Paris.

Hosking has enjoyed success in Qatar before too, with Ladies Tour of Qatar stage wins in 2013 and again this year; the Australian was also second overall behind Armitstead in 2015.

Chloe Hosking is one of the form riders in the women’s peloton (pic: Sirotti)

Second place behind Wiggle-High5 team-mate Jolien d’Hoore at the Madrid Challenge continued her success in the Women’s WorldTour criterium races last month, and Hosking also won her most recent race, namely the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli.

Katrin Garfoot claimed bronze in the women’s time trial to kick-start Australia’s medal haul for the 2016 UCI Road World Championships, and was also a Ladies Tour of Qatar winner earlier this year.

But Hosking is very much a woman on form, and has proved her sprinting credentials in Paris and Madrid already this season.

Jolien d’Hoore (Belgium)

Jolien d’Hoore is another Wiggle-High5 rider in good form, having won the Madrid Challenge in her last outing.

Better known for success in the Classics and the BeNe Ladies Tour – which she won again, courtesy of three stage wins, in July – d’Hoore has won seven times in all this season.

Jolien d’Hoore won omnium bronze at Rio 2016 and has returned to the road with a bang, winning the Madrid Challenge (pic: Sirotti)

A couple of top-ten finishes overall in Qatar show she can handle the Qatar crosswinds too, but it was her victory in Madrid which marked her as a contender for the world title.

Fresh from winning omnium bronze on the track at Rio 2016, d’Hoore showed she’s wasted little time finding form on the road again.

Though not known as a sprinter, the Belgian has proved she can win from the bunch and should not be discounted.

Emma Johansson (Sweden)

Though a bunch sprint is expected, if the winds whip up it is far from guaranteed, with plenty of riders capable of making things difficult for the peloton.

Emma Johansson is one of those, with the Swedish rider a multiple-medallist at the Worlds, without ever claiming top spot on the podium.


Emma Johansson is not a favourite on the sprinters’ course but can be relied upon to ignite the race (pic: Sirotti)


The 33-year-old Swedish champion, who won silver in the Olympic road race, is not the sort of rider to ride passively and wait for the inevitable sprint.

With no climbs to get over, Johansson is not among the favourites and her riding this season has not included the WorldTour criteriums.

But the World Championships can be a one-of-a-kind, formbook out of the window sort of race, and Johansson has proved plenty of times she is not a rider to write off.

Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)

The last time the UCI Road World Championships were held on a sprinters’ course, in Copenhagen in 2011, Giorgia Bronzini claimed her second consecutive world title.

The 33-year-old has not topped the podium at the Worlds since, but the Italian did bag two stage wins at the Giro d’Italia Femminile earlier in the year.

Giorgia Bronzini has been quiet of late, but stage wins at the Giro Femminile show she is still a sprinter to look out for (pic: Sirotti)

llist Elisa Longo Borghini another who could light the race up, and several other sprinting options.

Bronzini will also either support, or count on the support of, the likes of Marta Bastianelli – third in Madrid one month ago.

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