Though too few and far between, Great Britain can boast some big name victories in both the men’s and women’s Road Race World Championships. But it’sTom Simpson and Beryl Burton who form the most interesting backdrop to the Old Country’s success at Worlds.
Belgium is a dominant force at The Worlds, with 32 rainbow jerseys between the men the women. Perhaps more significant, however, is the fact both Rik Van Steenbergen and the great Eddy Merckx are among only five riders to claim the coveted rainbow bands a record three times.
The Netherlands has seen Worlds success in both the men’s and women’s Road Race but is in the latter event where they have dominated. Marianne Vos, the most decorated female cyclist in history, has won the rainbow bands an incrediible three times to add to her seven World Cyclocross titles.
Italy can lay claim to any number of honours when it comes to The Worlds. But our favourite is the flamboyant Mario Cipollini. The year that Cipo won the World Champs, he was arrested for motorpacing on an Italian autostrada – noting it was the only place he could safely get up to top speed.
The Americans may not be the most the decorated at the World Championships. But Greg Lemond, at least, can lay claim to a couple of classic victories. His 1989 Le Tour-Worlds double humiliation of Luarent Fignon will live long in rainbow jersey folklore.