The World Championships have been completed, and the 2013 cycling season enters its last knockings as October dawns. The WorldTour is drawing to a close, and one last flurry of races across Europe heralds the start of the off-season. But that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of good racing still to come this month. Here’s a quick look at what’s in store.
The WorldTour standings will be finalised as October brings its final two events: the last of the five one-day monuments of European cycling and a Far East fly-away to bring down the curtain on the competition.
Sunday (the 6th) brings us Il Lombardia, the ‘race of the falling leaves’. Long (at 251km) and hilly, it’s definitely a race for those who like their punchy climbs. Recent winners include Philippe Gilbert and Damiano Cunego. Last year Joaquim Rodriguez proved bravest and strongest in appallingly wet conditions to win not only the race but the year’s number one individual ranking.
The final climb of Villa Vergano summits less than 10km from the finish. It is far from the toughest of those the riders will face during the day, but at 3.2km long and averaging 7.4% it is often the launch-pad for the winning move. A repeat victory here for Rodriguez would not only ease his World Championships disappointment but would also most likely secure top spot in the WorldTour rankings again.
The season’s final top division race, the Tour of Beijing (11th-15th), takes in many of the city’s most iconic sights but is largely unloved by riders and fans alike.
However, as it prepares for its third edition, the parcours is much improved from its 2011 debut which consisted mostly of featureless sprint finishes on long, straight highways. In between a pair of flat stages which bookend the race, there are two lumpy classics-style parcours and a tough summit finish at Mentougou on the penultimate day which will determine the GC. Triple time trial world champion Tony Martin has won both previous editions.
Outside of the WorldTour, the European season also winds down for the winter, with the biggest races concentrated in Italy and France.
Italy brings us Milano-Torino (2nd) and the Giro del Piemonte (4th) as preparation races for Lombardia. The Giro dell’Emilia follows on the 12th.
Meanwhile in France we have 1.HC category races on three successive Sundays. The Tour de Vendee (6th) serves as a warm-up for the sprinters’ classic Paris-Tours (13th) – although the latter is as likely to finish in a small group sprint as it is a mass gallop – with the time trial Chrono des Nations (20th) the final event of the UCI Europe Tour.
And that really will be it for 2013!
For some reason, there is a noticeably small number of pro cyclists who celebrate their birthday in October. However, let’s start with a big one: 2013 road race world champion Rui Costa of Movistar (and soon to be Lampre), who will mark his 27th birthday on the 5th with the memory of his rainbow jersey-winning ride fresh in his memory.
Chris Horner, the oldest grand tour winner of all time, also marks the passage of time this month. The 2013 Vuelta a Espana champion turns 42 on the 23rd.
Let’s also highlight some prominent riders from this year’s grand tours. Ag2r La Mondiale’s Carlos Betancur (24 on the 13th) finished fifth overall and won the young rider classification at the Giro, while Britiain’s Alex Dowsett (Movistar) won the first individual time trial. He turns 25 on the 3rd.
Two of the biggest breakthrough riders at the Vuelta will also be blowing out candles this month. Double stage winner Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) will be 22 (28th), while Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) turns 24 (5th),
Barguil is already being hailed as the next great young hope of French cycling, which is a bit harsh on Pierre Rolland. Already twice a top-ten finisher at the Tour de France, the Europcar rider will be celebrating only his 27th birthday on the 10th.
Finally, let’s not forget two wise old veterans who will be teammates at Omega Pharma-Quick Step next year. Tom Boonen will be looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2013. He’s 33 on the 15th. Meanwhile OPQS new boy Mark Renshaw (currently Belkin) will be eating his cake exactly a week later, although his will only have 31 candles on it. He’ll be looking forward to a reunion with Mark Cavendish next season.
Also on the blog
The season may be drawing to a close but never fear: VeloVoices will keep on going right through the off-season.
We’ll have our usual fortnightly VeloVoices podcast to wrap up the WorldTour season, and we’ll continue to keep chatting away even once the racing has finished.
Kitty’s Tweets of the Week (Tuesdays), Tim’s Talking Tactics (Wednesdays) will continue through to the end of the season, and will appear on an ad hoc basis after that. The same goes for our Friday Features and Sheree’s Saturday recipe column, The Musette.
As we head into the off-season, watch out for some special content looking back on the 2013 season, including rider and team spotlights, an end-of-season round-table and the 2013 VeloVoices Awards. We’ll kick all this off towards the end of the month, stretching into November and December.
Plus, as ever, we’ll be busy, busy, busy on both our Facebook page and Twitter.
And finally, don’t forget that you can now order t-shirts and other great VeloVoices gear online via this link – including our latest design dedicated to the five monuments.
Whether serious or light-hearted, VeloVoices is the place to come for all the latest cycling news and views! Pro cycling for fans, by fans.