When the 2018 UCI Road Cycling World Championships begin on September 23rd, in Innsbruck-Tirol, Austria, it will be the third time the Road World Championships have been hosted in Austria. Both previous events - in Villach in 1987, and Salzburg in 2006 - offered historic performances, and there is a good chance Innsbruck will as well.
Villach, in the south of Austria, is close to the borders of Italy and Slovenia. In 1987, the UCI Road World Championships consisted of five events - the professional and amateur road races for men, the women's road race andteam time trials for both women and men.
The road races were contested on a 12 kilometre circuit, with two short climbs per lap. It was considered to be a course that favoured sprinters. The women raced six laps for a total of 72 kilometres, while the professional men did 23 laps for 276 kilometres.
France's Jeannie Longo won her third straight women's road title, ahead of two Dutch riders - Heleen Hage and Connie Meyer. The 50 kilometre women’s team time trial went to the Soviet Union.
The men's race was won by Ireland's Stephen Roche, ahead of defending champion Moreno Argentin of Italy and Juan Fernandez of Spain. By winning the race, Roche became the second man in history to complete the Triple Crown - winning the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and UCI Road World Championship title in the same year. The only other rider to complete the Triple Crown is Belgium's Eddy Merckx in 1974. Italy won the men’s time trial, ahead of the Soviet Union and host country Austria.
The UCI Road World Championships were held in Austria again in 2006, this time in the historic city of Salzburg, famous as the birthplace of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. By 2006, the format was closer to the current schedule, with road races and individual time trial for Elite women, Elite men and Under-23 men.
The women's road race saw Marianne Vos of the Netherlands win her first Elite title, as did Paolo Bettini of Italy for the men. Other notable wins were the first world titles in the time trial for two riders who would become among the greatest in the history of the discipline: Kirstin Armstrong of the USA for the women, and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland for the men.
Innsbruck will offer world titles in the time trial and road for the Junior and Elite women, and Junior, Under-23 and Elite men. Will we see more historic firsts?