The Under 23 Men’s race will take place Saturday afternoon and should be a great race to watch. The U23 riders are literally on the doorstep of racing with the Elite Men and the World Championship race will bring the best of the best to Louisville. With the absence of two-time defending champion Lars van der Haar (he was granted permission to race with the Elite Men this year), the races is wide open. The field is the second largest this weekend, with 42 riders from 13 countries scheduled to start. Here’s who to look out for:
Wieste Bosmans (BEL) – last year’s runner-up, Bosmans is a heavy favorite for Saturday’s race. The Belgian U23 Champion won the U23 World Cup this year and recently finished second to Niels Albert in Cincinnati. Bosmans isn’t unstoppable, but he rarely finishes off the podium and appears to be on great form.
Wout van Aert (BEL) – often in the mix, van Aert is a strong Belgian who could easily make a bid for victory in Louisville. He’s only finished outside the top-5 twice this season and has three victories. The only drawback is that he hasn’t won a big international race outside of Belgium. With that said, he did well at nationals and appears to have good legs a head of worlds.
Mike Teunissen (NED) – despite finishing 13th at last year’s World Championships, Teunissen is a rider to watch. He won several Superprestige rounds this year and was able to take the victory at the European Championships. This season he’s often on the podium and rarely finishes outside the top five. If he does pull on the rainbow jersey in Louisville, it will be the third straight U23 title for the Netherlands.
Zach McDonald (USA) – after finishing fourth at the first World Cup round, McDonald has had mixed results. Stateside he’s ridden well, most recently when he finished second in the Elite Mens race at nationals. However, in Europe, he has struggled to finish inside the top-ten. McDonald will have home field advantage this weekend and if he can find that form he had at Nationals, he could join Tim Johnson as the only American men to medal in the U23 race at worlds.
Julien Alaphilippe (FRA) – after a slow start to the season, the French U23 National Champion has turned it on. He’s podiumed at the last three World Cup rounds, including a victory in Rome. Alaphilippe would love drier conditions (something that doesn’t seem likely), but as he showed in Hoogerheide, he can ride well in any weather. If he’s able to pull off what would be considered a minor upset, he would become the third French U23 World Champion.