The first UCI Road World Championships were organised in 1927. Nowadays, they are usually raced on a circuit of between 12 to 17 km, with a group start, over a total distance of approximately 260 km. The individual time-trial discipline was introduced on the World Championships programme in 1994. It is raced over a distance of 40 to 50 km for professionals. Riders start individually, at regular intervals (1 to 2 minutes). The competitor with the best time is declared the winner.
The first professional World Cycling Championship took place in 1927 at the Nürburgring in Germany and was won by Alfredo Binda, of Italy. Belgium has the most wins per country with 25 victories from 17 different riders followed by Italy (19 wins), France (8 wins), Netherlands (7 wins) and Spain (5 wins).
Only five cyclists have successfully defended their title (three Belgians and two Italians): Georges Ronsse (Belgium, 1928–29); Rik Van Steenbergen (Belgium, 1956–57); Rik van Looy (Belgium, 1960–61); Gianni Bugno (Italy, 1991–92); Paolo Bettini (Italy, 2006–07).
Multiple winners 3 wins: Alfredo Binda (Ita), Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel), Eddy Merckx (Bel), Oscar Freire 8Spa)
2 wins: georges Ronsse (Bel), Briek Schotte (Bel), Rik Van Looy (Bel), Freddy Maertens (Bel), Greg Lemond 8USA), Gianni Bugno (Ita), Paolo Bettini (Ita)
1927 Alfredo Binda, Italy 1928 Georges Ronsse, Belgium 1929 Georges Ronsse, Belgium 1930 Alfredo Binda, Italy 1931 Learco Guerra, Italy 1932 Alfredo Binda, Italy 1933 Georges Speicher, France 1934 Karel Kaers, Belgium 1935 Jean Aerts, Belgium 1936 Antonin Magne, France 1937 Eloi Meulenberg, Belgium 1938 Marcel Kint, Belgium 1946 Hans Knecht, Switzerland 1947 Theo Middelkamp, Netherlands 1948 Breik Schotte, Netherlands 1949 Rik Van Steenbergen, Belgium 1950 Breik Schotte, Belgium 1951 Ferdi Kubler, Switzerland 1952 Heinz Muller, Germany 1953 Fausto Coppi, Italy 1954 Louison Bobet. France 1955 Stan Ockers, Belgium 1956 Rik Van Steenbergen, Belgium 1957 Rik Van Steenbergen, Belgium 1958 Ercole Baldini, Italy 1959 André Darrigade, France 1960 Rik Van Looy, Belgium 1961 Rik Van Looy, Belgium 1962 Jean Stablinski, France 1963 Benini Beheyt, Belgium 1964 Jan Janssen, Netherlands 1965 Tom Simpson, England 1966 Rudi Altig, Germany 1967 Eddy Merckx, Belgium 1968 Vittorio Adorni, Italy 1969 Harm Ottenbros, Netherlands 1970 Jean-Pierre Monsere, Belgium 1971 Eddy Merckx, Belgium 1972 Marino Basso, Italy 1973 Felice Gimondi, Italy 1974 Eddy Merckx, Belgium 1975 Hennie Kuiper, Netherlands 1976 Freddy Maertens, Belgium 1977 Francesco Moser, Italy 1978 Gerrie Knetemann, Netherlands 1979 Jan Raas, Netherlands 1980 Bernard Hinault, France 1981 Freddy Maertens, Belgium 1982 Giuseppe Saronni, Italy 1983 Greg Lemond, USA 1984 Claude Criquielion, Belgium 1985 Joop Zoetemelk, Netherlands 1986 Moreno Argentin, Italy 1987 Stephen Roche, Irland 1988 Maurizio Fondriest, Italy 1989 Greg Lemond, USA 1990 Rudy Dhaenens, Belgium 1991 Gianni Bugno, Italy 1992 Gianni Bugno, Italy 1993 Lance Armstrong, USA 1994 Luc Leblanc, France 1995 Abraham Olano, Spanien 1996 Johan Museeuw, Belgium 1997 Laurent Brochard, France 1998 Oscar Camenzind, Switzerland 1999 Oscar Freire Gomes, Spain 2000 Romans Vainstein, Latvia 2001 Oscar Freire Gomes, Spain 2002 Mario Cipollini, Italy 2003 Igor Astarloa, Spain 2004 Oscar Freire Gomes, Spain 2005 Tom Boonen, Belgium 2006 Paolo Bettini, Italy 2007 Paolo Bettini, Italy 2008 Alessandro Ballan, Italy 2009 Cadel Evans, Australia 2010 Thor Hushowd, Norway