13 August 2023

Women’s Elite Road Race Preview

The final event of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships will see the world’s best women riders battle it in the Road Race. Who will take the win?

A cycling road race start at Glasgow, Scotland

The final event of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships will provide the drama, as the world’s best female riders gather to battle it out for the ultimate accolade: the Elite Women World Championship Road Race title.

It’s a fitting end to 11 days of thrills, spills and rainbows, which began on Thursday 3 August and concludes on Sunday 13 August, as the first event of its kind and the biggest cycling event in history.

Fresh from the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the women are primed and ready for the road race, which will feature riders from 74 nations taking on a 154.1km course beginning in Loch Lomond and arriving in Glasgow, where the winner will raise their arms on George Square in front of record crowds.

The course itself will offer a series of challenges to the women’s peloton. Taking a different route from the men, down from the stunning backdrop of Loch Lomond, the race will wind its way south, taking in the ascent of the Crow Road, which is likely to split the bunch for a while. Coming so early in the race however, it shouldn’t prove decisive, as there is plenty of time for the women to regroup heading into the technical Glasgow city circuit, which they will tackle six times.

Featuring numerous corners, lumps and bumps and the so-called ‘Mur de Montrose,’ the parcours is a true test of deft bike handling, daring speed and race strategy. Montrose Street is just 200m in length but with pitches of up to 13%, it will provide the perfect launch pad for attacks. With just 1.3km to go until the finish line, this race could go right down to the wire!


It’s a stacked field that will line up in Loch Lomond today, with Tour de France stage winners, and the defending champion among others. The race gets underway in Scotland's first National Park at noon.

The Netherland's Annemiek van Vleuten competes in a road race
Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten is a living legend among the women’s peloton. She won the 2022 title in Wollongong in breath-taking fashion, and riding in her final World Championships, the retiring Dutch veteran will hope to put in a solid performance and maybe pull off a surprise.

She won’t be the leader for her team however. The Dutch team is absolutely brimming with top talent, as always, but the undisputed queen of women’s cycling in 2023 is Demi Vollering, and she goes into the race as arguably the favourite for victory. The SD Worx rider is fresh from winning the general classification at the Tour de France Femmes and with a clutch of one-day classics wins also under her belt, Vollering has proven she can win under any circumstances.

Demi Vollering competing in a cycling road race
Demi Vollering

The Netherlands’ embarrassment of riches also includes the GOAT herself, Marianne Vos. A multiple World Champion across numerous disciplines, the veteran rider hasn’t shown her best form this season, but it’s the kind of course that fits her to a tee, with the repeated short explosive efforts and multiple turns suiting her skillset down to the ground.

They even have one of the underdogs in with the best chance of springing a surprise in the shape of Shirin van Anrooij. A cyclocrosser with excellent road skills, like Vos, van Anrooij will relish the technical nature of the course, and will hope to pull off a surprise victory just as she did earlier in the season, at Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

Marianne Vos
Marianne Vos

So, with all these superstars among their ranks, can the Dutch be beaten? Their low country neighbours Belgium would like to think so. Arguably the main rival to Demi Vollering on this course is her trade team mate Lotte Kopecky. Kopecky acquitted herself extremely well at the recent Tour de France Femmes, wearing the yellow jersey for 7 of the 8 days and proving she has many dimensions to her skillset. She comes into the race in incredible form, and is already decorated in rainbows after a stellar week in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, where she won both the elimination race and the points race. With a parcours that’s perfectly suited to her explosive power, she will be one for the rest to keep a close eye on.

Belgium's Lotte Kopecky shows off her Cycling Track gold medal at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships
Lotte Kopecky

Italy bring a strong squad to the race, with former champion Elisa Balsamo perhaps not favouring such a punchy course as a sprinter, and with successful veteran Elisa Longo Borghini suffering from mixed fortunes so far this season their trump card could well be Silvia Persico. Another rider with skills on a variety of surfaces, Persico will put her grit, speed and bike handling skills to use on the Glasgow circuit in the hope of staying with the front runners and perhaps even springing a surprise.

The host nation has cards to play too, with national champion Pfeiffer Georgi sure to be able to turn her hand to this type of course, and Germany will want a part of the action too. They are likely to be led by Liane Lippert – the Tour de France Femmes stage winner, who rides alongside Van Vleuten at Movistar, loves to race with an attacking style and will hope to use the Montrose Street climb to her advantage – expect to see Lippert exploding up it with reckless abandon.

Great Britain's Pfeiffer Georgi
Great Britain's Pfeiffer Georgi

Outside of this, France, Poland, Australia and Denmark will all hope to be in the mix, with a host of contenders who are superstars in their own right, with Tour de France stage winners and classics winners among a peloton stacked with class.

Whatever the outcome, the race promises to be a firework display of action and intensity, and as always in road racing, there are no guarantees – expect the unexpected, as even the favourites will need to be on their guard with the tricky course and potentially wet conditions providing extra challenges.