Kristoff: I thought I'd be world champion with 150m to go

Norwegians united but second best to Sagan on home soil

As Alexander Kristoff burst from the bunch with 200m to go in the elite men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen one could imagine that a Bjørge Lillelien style commentary was about to cry out from the Norwegian TV section at the finish.

In the end, however, the home favourite was caught and passed by Sagan, and even though it took a photo finish to decide the winner it was clear to most that Kristoff had been nudged into second place.

"With 150m to go I was going full gas and I was thinking that I would take it. I was hoping that Sagan wasn't on my wheel and that I had Trentin or someone but unfortunately he was close to me and I know that he's really good at passing one guy like that," Kristoff told Cyclingnews at the finish.

Despite Sagan's burst of speed Kristoff managed to pull the Slovakian back to within touching distance as the pair drew closer to the line. It was as if the home crowd were collectively puffing out their cheeks and blowing the Norwegian to the win.

"I almost came back to him at the end and if it had been slightly longer maybe I would have taken it but then again he might have just timed it different. It was too late for me and he did a better sprint. He's a worthy winner," Kristoff said.

Coming into the race much had been made of the Norwegian debacle that was the Worlds of 2016 when Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen sprinted against each other and finished out of the medals. This time around there were no such mistakes and the collective performance that Thor Hushovd had called for was delivered.

The home team posted men in several important breaks, worked on the front when they needed to, and then had Boasson Hagen following moves on the last ascent of Salmon Hill. The Dimension Data rider was burnt out after the final climb, and although Kristoff was left to his own devices, he had the ideal line coming into the bunch sprint.

"I did a good sprint and it wasn't like I was dying at the end. It's just that Sagan had more power and maybe he was more fresh than me. He's won three times now and in these types of races, he's the best. He's not the worst guy to lose against and he's a worthy winner but for sure I'm sad and disappointed but that doesn't help now. It's too late.

"But I've no regrets. I didn't even know if I would make it on this course and I knew that I was going to be on the limit, so in that sense, I must be happy. I did everything correctly but Sagan is also the best at this type of finish. I was in the position that I wanted at the end but still lost. Second best team, second best result and the team must be proud of themselves."

Silver medal, a silver lining for Norway after last year's mess but a Bjørge Lillelien style commentary will have wait for another twelve months at least.

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