2021 UCI Road World Championships

Jasper Stuyven Is A Serious Underdog For 2021 UCI Road World Championships

Jasper Stuyven Is A Serious Underdog For 2021 UCI Road World Championships

The Belgian team is deep with talent. Will they all sell out for Wout van Aert? These are five underdogs with a shot at the rainbow jersey next Sunday.

Sep 18, 2021 by Jessica Alexander
Preview: A Fast, Flat & Full-Gas Flemish ITT

The UCI Road World Championship road races in Flanders, Belgium take place Sept. 25-26. The Flanders region is a hotbed for professional cycling, known for its steep and often cobbled climbs. Both the elite men's and women's road races begin in Antwerp and feature multiple complex circuits which will give racers and fans a taste of quintessential Belgian bike racing before finishing on Leuven's Geldenaaksevest.

The elite men will race on Sept. 26 for 268.3km with an official start on the Grote Markt in Antwerp.The peloton will pass through the village of Keerbergen before arriving in Leuven. After arriving in Leuven, the elite men will complete the local circuit 1.5 times, the Flandrien circuit one time, the local circuit four times, the Flandrien circuit one more time and the Leuven local circuit 2.5 more times. The finish features the uphill finish on Geldenaaksevest.

Here are five underdogs to watch for the elite men's road race:

Magnus Cort

Magnus Cort has been on a roll of wins since 2017 and 2021 has proven how strong the Dane is as he procured three stage wins in the Vuelta a España and won the Overall Combativity Award. Cort has been known to be a strong classics rider, so the 268km World Champion race will suit his efforts and strengths. 

Remco Evenepoel

Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel hasn’t had an easy time since his stunning performances in the 2018 and 2019 world championships. Evenepoel has shown glimmers of greatness since his horrific 2019 crash at Il Lombardia, but he has yet to decimate a WorldTour race in a manner akin to his Clásica San Sebastian victory.

Despite a stomach virus causing him to pull out of the recently concluded Benelux Tour, it isn't all bad news for Evenepoel. He has notched up a number of victories in lower-classification UCI races this season, and landed himself on the podium of the European road and time trial Championships. While Wout Van Aert is the designated leader for the Belgian team, Evenepoel can't be counted out.

Michael Matthews

Australian Michael Matthews has a strong team going into UCI Road Worlds: Luke Durbridge, Caleb Ewan, Nathan Haas, Nick Schultz, Miles Scotson, Robbery Stannard and Harry Sweeny. Matthews’ seniority and experience as well as skills as a sprinter mean that he will contest another win this year after a seventh place finish at Road World Championships in 2020.

Jasper Stuyven

Much has been made of Wout van Aert's chances at this year's world championships, and rightfully so. Van Aert has raced an impeccable season, from stage victories at the Tour de France, to GC success at the Tour of Britain. 

While Van Aert is a clear favorite for the race, the Belgian team is resplendent with talent. The depth of the Belgian team is nothing new, but the light blue jerseys will have an immense amount of pressure on their shoulders, as the team races on home roads in a truly cycling-mad part of the world. 

Jasper Stuyven, while not as consistent as Van Aert, is a class act in the classics, and is having one of the best years of his career. Stuyven won Milan–San Remo against favorites Caleb Ewan and Wout van Aert in the Spring, and just notched up a podium in the Primus Classic, which shares many roads with Flanders Worlds.

Stuyven is a true asset for the Belgian squad. While Van Aert will be thoroughly marked by his rivals, Stuyven may be allowed a bit too much leash by his rivals. As he demonstrated in Milano-Sanremo, if he's given an inch, he'll take a mile.

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff has also won the Milan-San Remo (in 2014). Another Classics specialist, Kristoff won the points classification of the 2021 Arctic Race of Norway and has a bronze medal from the 2012 London Olympics for the road race. The Norwegian rider will finish the 2021 season with UAE Team Emirates and will hopefully race another season in 2022.