The winner of the UCI Road World Championships road race is considered the World Cycling Champion (or World Road Cycling Champion) and earns the right to wear the Rainbow Jersey for a full year in road race or stage events. The event is a single 'mass start' road race, the winner being the first across the line at the completion of the full race distance.
The winner of the UCI Road World Championships Time Trial is considered the World Time Trial Champion and earns the right to wear the Rainbow Jersey for a full year in individual time trial (ITT) events or stages (for example, the prologue and ITT stages at the Tour de France or other stage races).
Both the road race and individual time trial events are competed by riders organized by national cycling teams as opposed to commercially sponsored or trade teams, which is the standard in professional cycling.
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). Spaniard Alejandro Valverde has the most total medals by any one individual with six, although he has never won the rainbow jersey (2 silver 2003, 2005 and 4 bronze - 2006, 2012–14).