Alejandro Valverde had finished third in the last three editions of the World Championships elite men's road race but a fourth year on the dias wasn't to be as the Spaniard crossed the line in fifth place. Valverde won his first Worlds medal when the race was last held on North American shores, 2003 in Hamilton, and has finished no worse than ninth bar two occasions since.
Valverde had kept his nose out of the wind during the 259km, 16-lap course around Richmond's central business district with the Spanish team looking after its leader but like the other 109 finishers, couldn't match the race winning move made by Peter Sagan (Slovakia) on the 19% 23rd Street climb.
"It ended up being a harder circuit than expected - a bit of it due to elimination in the finale, riding under constant danger due to speed and crashes. I consider it was a good result," Valverde said in a statement from the Spanish Federation. "I already stated it wasn't a route that suited me much, though it's true that it became harder in the end. We were up there once again, giving everything we could, just as much as the rest of the national team."
The 35-year-old, who finishes the season as the top ranked WorldTour rider for the second straight year, explained he was OK when Sagan initially attacked but in the 3km chase of the Tinkoff-Saxo rider, he realised his hopes of a rainbow jersey were disappearing up the road.
"Almost all sprinters made it to the last sprint, and even with that, we could bring a good result home with that fifth place. When Sagan attacked with Van Avermaet, it wasn't a problem that I was too far behind, I was like eighth at the beginning of the 23rd Street slope, but it was really hard to keep pushing forward, impossible for me at that point," he added.
"I didn't lack that energy quite as much in the sprint as there; probably I could have been a bit closer to the medals with better positioning in that sprint, but we shouldn't make up any excuses."
Spain's only medal from the Worlds came in the team time trial with Movistar claiming the bronze medal. Of the six riders in the team, Jonathan Castroviejo and Jon Izagirre represented Spain.