Sagan 'honoured' to top WorldTour rankings

Peter Sagan has described his 2016 WorldTour series victory as a 'great honour', and took the opportunity to pay tribute to his outgoing Tinkoff team.

The world champion has enjoyed a stellar season in the rainbow bands, with 10 of his 13 wins coming at WorldTour level and helping him to top the end-of-season rankings.

Among the highlights were a Monument breakthrough at the Tour of Flanders and three more stages at the Tour de France, with plenty of success outside of the WorldTour to boot, including victory at the European Championships.

His lead in the rankings was insurmountable even before the series-closing Il Lombardia on Saturday, but after it was set in stone he was able to convey his emotions.

"Finishing a season at the top of the UCI WorldTour ranking is, obviously, a great honour and gratification for any rider," he said in a statement from the Tinkoff team.

"It's the first time in my professional career that I attain this summit and I'm thrilled. It's the culmination of a strong and consistent performance throughout the year, the combination of personal effort and support from the team and its partners."

Sagan finished on 669 points, ahead of Nairo Quintana (609) and Chris Froome (564) – both of whom took big hauls for winning a Grand Tour.

The Slovak took the lead in the rankings after his win at Gent-Wevelgem in March, and he was only displaced briefly by teammate Alberto Contador after the Criterium du Dauphine, and then by Quintana after the Vuelta a Espana. He jumped back above the Colombian with a strong end to the season that featured victory at the Grand Prix de Quebec and two stage wins and third overall at the Eneco Tour.

Sagan will join Bora-Hansgrohe in 2017 as Tinkoff shuts up shop, and he paid tribute to the team that has helped him deliver the most successful period of his career to date.

"Sadly, I reach this pinnacle in my career on the day Tinkoff took part in its last WorldTour race ever. We are all sorry to see this great team disappear but we understand the decision taken by its owner Oleg Tinkov," he said.

"I would like to thank everybody in the team, and especially Oleg, for these two great seasons that brought me success, including some of the world's most coveted trophies and jerseys. It wouldn't have been possible without them."

Sagan's 2016 WorldTour victories

27/03: Gent - Wevelgem
03/04: Ronde van Vlaanderen
15/05: Tour de Suisse Stage 2
18/05: Tour de Suisse Stage 3
03/07: Tour de France Stage 2
13/07: Tour de France Stage 11
18/07: Tour de France Stage 16
09/09: Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
21/09: Eneco Tour Stage 3
22/09: Eneco Tour Stage 4

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