Cycling World Championships 2013: Riders to Watch in Florence This Week

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor ISeptember 22, 2013

VALKENBURG, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 23:  Jerome Coppel of France climbs the Cauberg during the Men's Elite Road Race on day eight of the UCI Road World Championships on September 23, 2012 in Valkenburg, Netherlands.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The World Road Championships starts in Florence on Sunday with the 57 km team time trial getting underway seven days of cycling that will culminate in the men's road race next Sunday.

With many of cycling's biggest names attending, including Bradley Wiggins fresh from the Tour of Britain, it is set to be a great week for the sport in the idyllic surrounds of Tuscany.

Much attention will be on the individual time trial in which Wiggins, Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara will all be competing for honours.

The road race, though, also boasts star turns in the form of Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez.

Who, then, will be the riders to watch in the coming days?


Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing)

MADINAT AL SHAMAL, QATAR - FEBRUARY 07: Best Young rider Taylor Phinney of the USA and the BMC Racing Team stands on the podium after stage five of the 2013 Tour of Qatar from Al Zubara Fort to Madinat Al Shamal on February 7, 2013 in Madinat Al Shamal, Q
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

American rider Phinney will be hoping to claim a medal in the individual time trial on Wednesday, but will need to beat one of the established names to do so.

Wiggins, Cancellara and Martin will be expected to secure medal places, but Phinney has the potential to cause a shock. He finished fourth in the time trial at last summer's Olympic Games and has since posted impressive results in 2013 on the Tour de Pologne and Tour of Qatar.

Cancellara may well decide to focus on the road race at the world championships, rather than the time trial, in which case Phinney is well placed to capitalise.

The Swiss rider has been talking up his chances in the road race per Cycling News, despite being a four-time time trial world champion, and Phinney will be keen to capitalise on Cancellara's decision.


Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing)

GAP, FRANCE - JULY 18:  Philipe Gilbert of Belgium and BMC Racing Team prepares to ride during stage eighteen of the 2013 Tour de France, a 172.5KM road stage from Gap to l'Alpe d'Huez, on July 18, 2013 in Gap, France.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Imag
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The rider identified by Cancellara as one of his main opponents in the road race, per Cycling News, Gilbert will hope to challenge for success next Sunday in a strong field.

Among those also confident of success will be Tour de France winner Froome, former Vuelta a Espana winner Nibali, expert climber Rodriguez and, of course, Cancellara himself.

Gilbert is a regular Classics rider and has a great track record in such events. Over the past two years, he has won three stages at the Vuelta and was champion in the format at last year's World Road Championship.

Arriving straight from Spain, he will be well prepared for the challenges ahead and, having performed well over the past 12 months, he will be hoping to retain his world title in Florence.


Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp)

BAGNERES-DE-BIGORRE, FRANCE - JULY 07:  Daniel Martin of Ireland and Team Garmin-Sharp celebrates winning the stage as he crosses the finish line during stage nine of the 2013 Tour de France, a 168.5KM road stage from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre,
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Another outsider for the road race next Sunday will be Ireland's Daniel Martin, due to a surprising season in which he won the Volta a Catalunya, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and also Stage 9 of the Tour de France.

Those successes proved that Martin is capable of competing with and beating many of his main competitors for next week's road race, while he should be well prepared after the Vuelta and Tour of Britain in recent weeks.

Martin spoke to Velo Nation in August about his ambition to claim the World Road Championship crown and, while he will not be among the pre-race favourites, he has a great chance to cause an upset if he times his move right late in the race.

With the likes of Gilbert, Alejandro Valverde and in-form Peter Sagan—who claimed the GP de Montreal title this week—also in the field, the road race title is wide open.

Martin, with his fine form in 2013, is well placed to take advantage.