Sagan takes historic third world championship in Bergen

Kristoff denied in photo finish sprint, Matthews third

Peter Sagan came seemingly from nowhere to claim his third consecutive World Championship title at the end of a breathless final lap in Bergen. The Slovakian burst out of the final turn, powered to the front and, in a perfectly executed bike throw, snatched the victory in a photo finish over Alexander Kristoff (Norway), with Australia's Michael Matthews third.

The race ended in a group sprint between 26 riders, after the sizeable peloton fragmented on the final ascent of Salmon Hill. Julian Alaphilippe (France) was the chief animator in the closing stages, jumping clear atop Salmon Hill in the company of Giovanni Moscon (Italy), and he was only finally caught inside the final two kilometres.

When the dust settled in the final kilometre, there was little time for anybody in the leading group to organise a coherent lead-out. Kristoff opted to go early, but with Sagan riding tight to his wheel, the Norwegian may have gone too soon. In the final 50 metres, Sagan turned on his speed and won with a few centimetres to spare to claim his third successive title.

In Richmond in 2015, Sagan was clearly the strongest and soloed to victory. In Doha a year ago, Sagan never missed a beat and was always well-placed near the front. This was a different kind of win. Sagan was nowhere to be seen as the race ignited on Salmon Hill and looked to be out of contention as Alaphilippe jumped clear, but he popped up in the final 100 metres to retain his rainbow jersey.

"It's not easy, guys. For the last 5km I said it's already done. It's gone. After I tried to go in the breakaway, and [Fernando] Gaviria tried to close, it came to a sprint, it's unbelievable," Sagan said, mindful that he had dampened the festive feel in Bergen by defeating Kristoff. "He is racing at home, and I'm sorry for that, but I'm happy to win again. It's unbelievable for me. It's something special for sure. It doesn't change anything, but for me it's something very nice."

Live television production broke down in the closing stages and coverage only resumed deep inside the final kilometre of racing, which added an extra layer of mystery to an already breathless finale. Even Sagan seemed at a loss as to how he made it back into contention to sprint for the rainbow jersey.

"It's very hard to say. You saw on the climb we were already in three pieces or more. The guys from the back, they caught us, and in the front, there was a breakaway, and after that it came together in the finish in just seconds. You can't predict it," Sagan said. "I'm very happy, I have to say thank you for all my teammates in the national team and for some friends in the group - I still have some friends in the group.

"I want to dedicate this to Michele Scarponi, because he would have had a birthday tomorrow. It was a very sad story this year. Second I want to dedicate this victory to my wife, we are expecting a baby. It's a very nice end of the season, and I'm very happy."

How it unfolded

Large crowds and overcast skies greeted the peloton at the start in Rang. Shortly after kilometre zero, Conor Dunne (Ireland) went on the attack and nine riders came with him: Sean McKenna (Ireland), Alexey Vermeulen (USA), Andrey Amador (Costa Rica), Kim Magnusson (Sweden), Matti Manninen (Finland), Willie Smit (South Africa), Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan), Eugert Zhupa (Albania) and Salah Eddine Mraouni (Morocco). The ten leaders quickly built up a sizeable lead, which yawned out to 9 minutes after 24 kilometres.

The field was happy to let them go and rode behind them at a steady pace during the preamble before the first of twelve laps of the 19.1-kilometre finishing circuit. With 200km still to go, the gap started falling from its maximum extent of 10 minutes, but only in small increments. The peloton was showing a bit more purpose, but was still willing to let the break go with a big gap. The French and Belgian teams shared much of the lead work.

With 150 km to go, the gap was down to 4:41, with Manninen the first to drop back from the break. The gap was down to just over three minutes with 6 laps to go, while the escape shed more riders as the race progressed. Russia's Maxim Belkov was the first to attack from the field, meanwhile, though his lone effort ultimately proved futile, and he was caught with 90 kilometres to go.

At that point, the Netherlands moved to the front of the peloton and their determined acceleration brought the leaders back to within 30 seconds. Smit was the final survivor from the move, but his solo effort came to an end when Julien Vermote – who spent the bones of 100 miles on the front for Belgium – pegged him back. Vermote finished his hard day of work in the worst way, by crashing, though he was able to remount and ride to the pits before abandoning.

Three and a half laps from home, Marco Haller (Austria) sparked a dangerous move when he attacked on Salmon Hill, with Tim Wellens (Belgium) bridging to him on the front. They were joined by Alessandro De Marchi (Italy), Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia), David de la Cruz (Spain), Jack Haig (Australia), Lars Boom (Netherlands) and Odd Christian Eiking (Norway), building a lead of 40 seconds and forcing France and Poland to lead the chase in the peloton.

Nils Politt (Germany) chased with 43km to go but he was unable to catch up, and was reeled back in by the peloton. Several crashes took out top riders on the penultimate lap, meanwhile, as Sebastian Henao (Colombia) left in the medical van, while USA's Tejay van Garderen took a long time to get up after clashing with a barrier.

On the penultimate ascent of Salmon Hill, world time trial champion Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) showed his hand with a determined acceleration to sowed panic in the peloton but ultimately failed to change break the race apart.

Over the top of the climb, only Haig, Eiking, De la Cruz and Wellens remained at the head of the race, but they were caught with 25 kilometres to go after their former breakaway companion Boom had put in a solid shift at the head of the bunch.

A brief rally from Luis Mas (Spain) fizzled out almost as soon as it began, and a large peloton of almost 80 riders took the bell for the final lap of the Worlds.

With 16 km to go, Paul Martens (Germany) and Sebastian Langeveld (Netherlands) jumped clear, but they were pulled back in the run-up to the final climb of Salmon Hill. Tony Gallopin (France) was the next to give it a try, but he too was reeled in.

A crash at the foot of Salmon Hill took down a number of riders, including Jens Keukeleire of Belgium, but the race was beginning to ignite in earnest up front, as Alaphilippe unleashed a vicious attack that carried him clear of the peloton. Only Moscon could bridge across, and the youthful duo looked like a winning move as they swooped down the other side of the climb.

Behind, some fifteen or so riders, including Gilbert and Van Avermaet, were scrambling to get back on terms, but with gaps opening and closing in the chasing group, it was difficult for them to form a cohesive pursuit. Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) and Lukas Postlberger (Austria) joined forces to draw close to Alaphilippe and Moscon, but they never quite succeeded in bridging the gap as the road flattened out.

On the cobbled section with 4.5 kilometres to go, Alaphilippe sensed Moscon was flagging, and his rasping acceleration took him clear alone. The Frenchman must have felt it was the winning move, but with the chasing group swelling in size, his task became ever more difficult.

Alaphilippe was caught before the race reached the final kilometre, and a group of 26 thundered towards the finish together. Kristoff unleashed a powerful sprint that looked set to land him Norway's second elite men's world title, only for Sagan to come around him in the final 50 metres to write himself into history.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Slovakia)6:28:11 
2Alexander Kristoff (Norway)  
3Michael Matthews (Australia)  
4Matteo Trentin (Italy)  
5Ben Swift (Great Britain)  
6Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)  
7Michael Albasini (Switzerland)  
8Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Colombia)  
9Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan)  
10Julian Alaphilippe (France)  
11Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)  
12Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)  
13Tony Gallopin (France)  
14Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)  
15Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)  
16Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Russian Federation)  
17Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)  
18Sergei Chernetski (Russian Federation)  
19Rui Costa (Portugal)  
20Simon Geschke (Germany)  
21Michael Valgren Andersen (Denmark)  
22Lukas Postlberger (Austria)  
23Ilnur Zakarin (Russian Federation)  
24Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)  
25Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)  
26Daniel Martin (Ireland)  
27Rigoberto Uran (Colombia)0:00:05 
28Alberto Bettiol (Italy)  
29Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark)0:00:27 
30Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)0:01:04 
31Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain)  
32Julien Simon (France)  
33Nicolas Roche (Ireland)  
34Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)0:01:20 
35Guillaume Boivin (Canada)  
36Peter Kennaugh (Great Britain)0:01:22 
37Warren Barguil (France)0:01:23 
38Diego Ulissi (Italy)  
39Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)0:02:32 
40Nikias Arndt (Germany)  
41Michael Schar (Switzerland)  
42Luka Pibernik (Slovenia)  
43Aleksejs Saramotins (Latvia)  
44Stefan Kung (Switzerland)  
45Juraj Sagan (Slovakia)  
46Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)  
47Marcus Burghardt (Germany)  
48Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic)  
49Daryl Impey (South Africa)  
50Silvan Dillier (Switzerland)  
51Tobias Ludvigsson (Sweden)  
52Michal Golas (Poland)  
53Alex Howes (United States Of America)  
54Imanol Erviti (Spain)  
55Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)  
56Odd Christian Eiking (Norway)  
57Elia Viviani (Italy)  
58Jose Rojas (Spain)  
59Sonny Colbrelli (Italy)  
60Simon Clarke (Australia)  
61Jan Polanc (Slovenia)  
62Mitchell Docker (Australia)  
63Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina)  
64Tiago Machado (Portugal)  
65Ricardo Vilela (Portugal)  
66Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain)  
67Jarlinson Pantano Gomez (Colombia)  
68Stefan Denifl (Austria)  
69Tony Martin (Germany)  
70David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spain)  
71Bob Jungels (Luxembourg)  
72Dylan Teuns (Belgium)  
73Oliver Naesen (Belgium)  
74Sebastian Langeveld (Netherlands)  
75Michael Morkov (Denmark)  
76Christopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)  
77Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)  
78Andrey Grivko (Ukraine)0:03:13 
79Jan Barta (Czech Republic)  
80Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kazakhstan)  
81Hugo Houle (Canada)  
82Pawel Poljanski (Poland)  
83Natnael Berhane (Eritrea)  
84Anthony Roux (France)  
85Lilian Calmejane (France)  
86Cyril Gautier (France)  
87Jens Keukeleire (Belgium)  
88Salvatore Puccio (Italy)  
89Jasper Stuyven (Belgium)0:05:49 
90Paul Martens (Germany)  
91Matej Mohoric (Slovenia)  
92Luka Mezgec (Slovenia)  
93Heinrich Haussler (Australia)  
94Jack Haig (Australia)  
95Tiesj Benoot (Belgium)0:06:33 
96Lukasz Wisniowski (Poland)0:06:37 
97Scott Thwaites (Great Britain)0:07:33 
98Mark Christian (Great Britain)  
99Rick Zabel (Germany)  
100Fabian Lienhard (Switzerland)  
101Amund Grondahl Jansen (Norway)  
102Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania)  
103Luis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spain)  
104Lars Boom (Netherlands)0:07:35 
105Daniele Bennati (Italy)  
106Jesus Herrada (Spain)  
107Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spain)  
108Marc Soler (Spain)  
109Kiel Reijnen (United States Of America)0:09:21 
110Tim Wellens (Belgium)  
111Gregory Rast (Switzerland)0:09:24 
112Marco Haller (Austria)  
113Alessandro De Marchi (Italy)0:09:26 
114Nils Politt (Germany)0:10:21 
115Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Colombia)  
116Jasha Sutterlin (Germany)  
117Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain)  
118Johannes Frohlinger (Germany)  
119Koen De Kort (Netherlands)  
120Antoine Duchesne (Canada)  
121Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)  
122Olivier Le Gac (France)  
123Mihkel Raim (Estonia)0:11:53 
124Joseph Rosskopf (United States Of America)  
125Daniel Hoelgaard (Norway)  
126Ryan Mullen (Ireland)  
127Jiri Polnicky (Czech Republic)  
128Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kazakhstan)  
129Dion Smith (New Zealand)  
130Jose Goncalves (Portugal)  
131Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Argentina)  
132Jean-Pierre Drucker (Luxembourg)  
DSQGianni Moscon (Italy)  
DNFKrists Neilands (Latvia)  
DNFTruls Korsaeth (Norway)  
DNFMichal Kolar (Slovakia)  
DNFJack Bauer (New Zealand)  
DNFLuke Durbridge (Australia)  
DNFWout Poels (Netherlands)  
DNFConor Dunne (Ireland)  
DNFAndrey Amador (Costa Rica)  
DNFNairo Quintana (Colombia)  
DNFStanislau Bazhkou (Belarus)  
DNFRuben Guerreiro (Portugal)  
DNFTejay Van Garderen (United States Of America)  
DNFMaciej Paterski (Poland)  
DNFJos Van Emden (Netherlands)  
DNFRory Sutherland (Australia)  
DNFJuan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Colombia)  
DNFJay Mc Carthy (Australia)  
DNFAlexey Vermeulen (United States Of America)  
DNFErik Baska (Slovakia)  
DNFMarek Canecky (Slovakia)  
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Poland)  
DNFSebastian Henao Gomez (Colombia)  
DNFAlex Kirsch (Luxembourg)  
DNFAlexander Porsev (Russian Federation)  
DNFWillem Jakobus Smit (South Africa)  
DNFJan Tratnik (Slovenia)  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (France)  
DNFAdam Blythe (Great Britain)  
DNFOwain Doull (Great Britain)  
DNFJonathan Dibben (Great Britain)  
DNFSean McKenna (Ireland)  
DNFJulien Vermote (Belgium)  
DNFKim Magnusson (Sweden)  
DNFPetr Vakoc (Czech Republic)  
DNFKristoffer Skjerping (Norway)  
DNFAugust Jensen (Norway)  
DNFMaxim Belkov (Russian Federation)  
DNFNelson Andres Soto Martinez (Colombia)  
DNFJhonatan Restrepo Valencia (Colombia)  
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Netherlands)  
DNFAlo Jakin (Estonia)  
DNFAksel Nommela (Estonia)  
DNFSerghei Tvetcov (Romania)  
DNFMads Pedersen (Denmark)  
DNFCharalampos Kastrantas (Greece)  
DNFSalaheddine Mraouni (Morocco)  
DNFPatrik Tybor (Slovakia)  
DNFIan Stannard (Great Britain)  
DNFIvan Savitckii (Russian Federation)  
DNFJosef Cerny (Czech Republic)  
DNFElchin Asadov (Azerbaijan)  
DNFKostyantyn Rybaruk (Ukraine)  
DNFNathan Brown (United States Of America)  
DNFValens Ndayisenga (Rwanda)  
DNFMekseb Debesay (Eritrea)  
DNFEugert Zhupa (Albania)  
DNFYauhen Sobal (Belarus)  
DNFKing Lok Cheung (Hong Kong, China)  
DNFPatrick Bevin (New Zealand)  
DNFMatti Manninen (Finland)  
DNFMathew Hayman (Australia)  
DNFAmanuel Ghebreigzabhier Werkilul (Eritrea)  
DNSDamien Shaw (Ireland)  

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