Breaking down the favorites for the road world championships

There will be 12 championships at stake when the road worlds return to U.S. soil for the first time since 1986. While the junior and under-23 races in Richmond, Virginia, will showcase the up-and-coming stars of the sport, it will be the elite men and women in the spotlight.

Here are some of the riders to watch when racing begins Sept. 20.

WOMEN'S TIME TRIAL

Kristin Armstrong of the United States is the two-time defending Olympic champion in the discipline, and she has proven in her comeback from retirement that she is still the one to beat in the race against the clock. She'll be pushed by reigning world champion Lisa Brennauer of Germany, Ukrainian phenom Hanna Solovey and Armstrong's own teammate, Evelyn Stevens, the reigning bronze medalist and member of the three-time team time trial world champions.

MEN'S TIME TRIAL

Three-time world champion Tony Martin was beaten by Britain's Bradley Wiggins a year ago, but the German star has bounced back from a crash at the Tour de France to post strong results in recent weeks. Reigning bronze medalist Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands was the revelation of this year's Vuelta a Espana, while Australia's Rohan Dennis figures to be in the mix. Missing will be Swiss star Fabian Cancellara, who called it a season due to injuries and illnesses.

WOMEN'S ROAD RACE

Dutch superstar Marianne Vos is skipping worlds as she recovers from injuries, throwing the race wide open. Defending champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France recently won her first mountain bike world title, while Emma Johansson of Sweden has stood on every step but the top one at worlds. Shelley Olds, Megan Guarnier and Lauren Stephens are part of a powerhouse U.S. team that could be the strongest in the entire field.

MEN'S ROAD RACE

Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland will be trying to defend his title, but the heavy favorite is Peter Sagan of Slovakia, whose riding style is perfectly suited to the Richmond course. Alexander Kristoff of Norway should be in the mix, while the German duo of sprinter Andre Greipel and well-rounded John Degenkolb should be near the front. Don't discount Britain's Mark Cavendish, whose finishing kick could deliver his second title if he can first handle the hilly course.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.