Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the Elite Men's road race, the final event of this year's world championships.
We are just a few minutes away from the start of the race. It's going to be a long day in the saddle but everything is set for a great race.
As the minutes to the start countdown, the riders are signing on and lining up at the start.
As predicted, the weather has changed over night. Low clouds are covering Ponferrada and there is light rain.
The riders face 14 laps of the 18.2km circuit for a total of 254.8km.
Each lap includes two climb: the first is long and gradual, the second, to Mirador, is short but steep. The key factor could be the technical descent between the climbs.
The riders are lined up at the start. Everything is ready.
The Italian team is on the front of the start grid, along with Spain.
And they're off! The riders roll away. Lets race.
The pace is steady as the riders head towards the old town centre of Ponferrada.
Much is expected from Spain racing on home roads. Last year Joaquim Rodriguez finished second behind Rui Costa, with Alejandro Valverde third after the two seemed to race against each other. Valverde is team leader this year and has lots of Movistar teammates with him.
We have our first attack as the riders pass the Ponferrada castle.
It is Miguel Angel Rubian Chevez of Colombia.
The peloton is lined out as other riders try to go across to the break.
At the back of the peloton, Fabian Cancellara stops for a rear wheel change.
More riders are jumping away as the road climbs gradually out of Ponferrada.
Colombia is still trying to shake up the race and get a rider in the early break of the race.
Cancellara is comning back to the peloton after getting his wheel checked by the team car.
The peloton is wrapped up against the rain, with some riders wearing capes and even leg warmers.
There are now seven riders in the front move but they do not seem to be working well together.
The roads are wet and the clouds are low. It is going to be a wet race and so bike handling and tyre pressure will be vital.
The seven breakaway riders are already on the descent between the climbs, riding carefully on the sweeping roads.
A rider from Croatia is off the front but the peloton has pulled back the other breakaways.
Cancellara is at the back of the peloton with two teammates. He was angry with the team sizes based on ranking points because he has just three teammates.
Qualification is based on WorldTour points and so riders from the IAM Cycling team did not count, leaving Cancellara with far fewer teammates than his big rivals.
The peloton seems happy to let the riders go clear again, there are now four rider off the front and are opening a gap.
A seven-rider move was perhaps considered too big but four riders are easier to chase down later in the race.
The four riders in the move are 1:30 ahead of the peloton after the first full lap of the race.
The four breakaways are: Zydrunas Savickas (Lithuania), Matija Kvasina (Croatia), Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine).
As the race again heads out of Ponferrada, the rain is falling heavily. For some riders, hoping for a sprint finish, it is bad news but for nations like Italy and Spain, hoping for a hard race, rain and wet roads could be decisive.
Andre Greipel drops back to the German team car for a quick technical chat with his coach. Greipel or John Degenkolb will be Germany's protected riders today.
German team manager Jan Schaffrath says that John Degenkolb has recovered from his calf injury but that his longest training ride in the build up to the Worlds has been four and a half hours.
Degenkolb spent some time in hospital suffering from an infection in the calf injury, but in a brief exchange with CN, said at the start that he was feeling “good” and his injury was better.
“He’s doing ok, but you never know at race speed how he’s going to go,” Schaffrath told CN at the start of the World Championships. “I hope everything is fine, but the real test is today.”
His longest training session has been four and a half hours “and he was tired after that. So we’ll see. 50-50.”
Looking at the race route, Schaffrath says the conclusions he’s drawn from the previous races this week, “are that a sprint between 20 to 25 riders is possible. It’s fast.”
“But if there is a gap of over 10 seconds at the summit of the last climb, normally it’s over, no chance to come back. Although with the women, that break went away and then it didn’t work out.”
Schaffrath sees Fabian Cancellara as a top favourite, “and if [Ben] Swift is in the same shape as when he won in the Vuelta Pais Vasco, then he could be up there too. And Spain are very dangerous for me, they know they can’t bring Degenkolb to the finish line, so they’ll try to attack minimum three for laps to go.”
224km remaining from 254km
The break has quickly opened a good lead and has 4:00 on the peloton.
The first climb of the circuit seems no problem for the Elite Men, while the short Mirador climb takes them less than two minutes to climb at speed.
Italy has Manuel Quinziato on the front of the peloton on the climb to set a steady tempo.
The break has completed the second lap, while the peloton is at the summit of the Mirador climb.
The peloton completes the second lap.
The Great Britain team is riding for Ben Swift today but also has other options with the Yates brothers. David Millar is riding his last ever professional race as road captain.
“We’re going to smash it from the first lap,” British Cycling coach Rod Ellingworth joked to Cyclingnews when asked about the tactics for today’s road-race.
“No, seriously, we’ve got a few options, not just Swifty [Ben Swift] and the lads are doing well, all in good fettle.”
“Morale’s good, the team’s good we’re ready to do battle,” Millar added as he headed to the start of his last race.
207km remaining from 254km
As the kilometres tick down, the break has pushed out its lead to 7:30.
Behind the break several riders are trying their hand in an attempt to get across.
The two chasers are Bouglas of Greece and Poland's Golas.
Behind several riders are stopping for a natural break.
The peloton is now 9:40 behind the breakaway.
204km remaining from 254km
Incredibly, only entered the Elite race on Friday, close to the deadline. He is the only Greek rider in the race.
Several riders have dropped back to their team cars to collect caps as the rain continues to fall.
Upfront Golas has given up on his attack.
The gap is now up to 11:00.
The peloton is on the descent, taking the rain-soaked curve carefully.
Georgios Bouglas (Greece) is still away between the break and the peloton, enjoying a moment of glory.
As the peloton passes through the finish, the sun suddenly emerges but the roads are wet and there is still a lot of grey cloud.
The peloton is 14:38 behind the break but no nations seems interested in chasing.
Several riders have tangled and gone down in the centre of Ponferrada. Half a dozen riders went down, including Vincenzo Nibali (Italy).
Navardauskas also seemed to go down. However all the riders got up and are back riding.
Nibali is a group of five riders chasing to get back on. He seemed to have crashed on the same hip that he hurt in a recent crash at the Tre Valli Varesine.
De Marchi and Quinziato are at the back of the peloton waiting for Nibali.
Nibali gets a sticky bottle from the team car and moves up through the team cars. Italian coach Davide Cassani will have wanted to understand how Nibali feels after his crash.
The Tour de France winner is the Italian team leader but does not have great form. He can be expected to make an attack and perhaps even kick off the Italian attack in the finale, with three or four laps to go.
With the break more than 15 minutes ahead, they are close to half a lap in front of the peloton.
Nibali had a great Tour de France, especially on the cobbled stage, but has now crashed twice on his left hip.
With 177km to go, the German team has started to lead the chase. They will hope that others will follow.
Surprisingly Andre Greipel is on the front. He seems ready to sacrifice his chances for Degenkolb and the team.
The Poland team is also helping with the chase, as the gap falls to 14:50.
The speed and tension has risen in the peloton as Poland lead the riders through the finish area and pits.
The Italian team car has collected pedals and front wheel to service Nibali's bike a the second pits area on the circuit. Nibali apparently changed bikes after his crash.
The sun is out again but the roads are still wet, especially on the descents.
The peloton is on the Mirador climb under blue skies and a warm sun. However rain is forecast for later in the afternoon.
The four riders in the break covered the last lap in 28:51 at an average of just over 37km/h.
The speed has increased in the peloton as they hit the climbs.
Cancellara is at the back of the peloton again. It seems he had a further technical problem. Wyss is there to help him get back to the bunch.
The Poland team is being very generous in leading the peloton. However the gap is still 14:30.
155km remaining from 254km
The peloton passes through the finish and pits, with riders grabbing bottles and leaving capes.
The gap to the break has fallen to 14:00 but the peloton will have to pull back close to two minutes per lap for the rest of the race.
Georgios Bouglas (Greece) has been caught by the peloton. His moment of glory has ended thanks to the Poland team leading the chase.
Vincenzo Nibali is at the back of the peloton but seems ok after his earlier crash. He has taken off his gilet but still has knee warmers on to stay warm.
Former World TT Champion Laurent Jalabert, present at the start of the World Championships and a former winner of Milan-San Remo, says that the Ponferrada is “not so hard.”
“It’s going to be a bit of a strange race, I’m not so sure if there’s not going to be much of a selection. But if [French leader Nacer] Bouhanni wants to win, he’ll have to go over the top of the last climb in the front 20, because it’s a very fast descent to the finish after that.”
“If it rains, it’ll be very difficult, and it’ll be a lot slower. And that’ll be good for the sprinters.” He feels Cancellara will be very dangerous. “When he prepares for something, it’s very rare that he fails. And he’s going to try for it and he’s certainly capable of winning.”
Michal Kwiatkowski is the team leader for Poland. He will be hoping for a hard race and that perhaps explains why his teammates are working so hard on the front.
As a former U-23 World Champion - back in 2007 - Peter Velits has good memories of the Worlds and today he forms part of a three man team for Slovakia, led by Peter Sagan and with the two Velits brothers, Peter and Martin, as back-up.
“We are only a small team, but on the other hand, it’s a good opportunity,” Peter Velits, already on the podium of the World Championships after BMC won the men’s trade team time trial, told Cyclingnews. “There’s no big pressure on us to make the race, we follow the big races and we can benefit from that.”
“On the other hand, if something happens to either of us, then we’ll only have the leader goes.”
How is Sagan feeling? “Hard to say, I don’t know really much. He’s a good rider and even when he’s not in good form he can race well.”
“My big objective was the team time trial and we see how it goes.”
Teams are now riding together. The whole Polish team remains on the front, with Australia tucked on their wheels.
137km remaining from 254km
The peloton has completed six laps and so is close to half distance.
The crowd at the Ponferrada castle is growing. It is great place to see the riders go by and also enjoy the food and wine of Spain.
Alex Howes (USA) is at the back of the peloton. For some he is an outsider for a medal today. Also in the USA team are Andrew Talansky and Tejay van Garderen.
Decent and vocal crowds have turned out for the race today. The four leaders are still climbing at the moment with 132km to go. It will be interesting to see how much the gap has dropped with Poland still on the front of the race.
The pace certainly isn't that tough as we see Boasson Hagen chatting freely to his teammates.
As we see Mathew Hayman near the back of the field and collecting food for his teammates. The Australians will be rubbing their hands with glee as they've seen Poland do all the chasing in these early stages.
Hayman is policing Gerrans back to the front of the race, as the gap to the four leads drops to 11:40.
@ProCyclingNow Sun, 28th Sep 2014 12:15:06
Poland still have the race strung out and there are a number of small gaps starting to appear on the climb.
Alessandro De Marchi and Phil Deignan are both at the back of the peloton having dropped back to the team cars earlier. Up ahead Dan Martin is well positioned near the front of the race.
The gap is down to 11 minutes with just over seven laps to go.
Just behind the Polish line there are a few discussions going on and soon after the Germans post a man in the chase.
As the peloton head over the line with seven to go and the gap at 10:55.
The roads continue to dry out as well as the peloton coast passed the castle one more time. There's an increase in pace from the Polish team once more but they're going to need help soon if the gap is going to come down faster. The Australians, French and Germans have the firepower and the sprinters to make a difference.
Zydrunas Savickas (Lithuania), Matija Kvasina (Croatia), Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine) continue to plough on and they're making a decent fist of it with the gap to the peloton still at over ten minutes. At the back of the peloton US national road champion Eric Marcotte has picked up his feed bag.
Dauphine winner, Andrew Talansky, is also near the back of the peloton for now.
Matthews, a real favourite for today, is at the back of the pack with a mechanical, according to race radio. He shouldn't have too much trouble in making back to the head of the race.
113km remaining from 254km
113km to go and the gap is finally under ten minutes, only just mind. It's at 9:50.
The sun has shone for the last couple of hours, and the rain jackets have been dispensed with. The gap to the four leaders continues to come down slowly and is at 9:30.
Poland are down to seven riders on the front of the bunch. Froome is at the back of the bunch, his style of riding easy to pick out from the CN blimp.
Just over 100km to go and Poland push on the long descent. The gap to the four man break loses another minute.
There is a contingent of GB riders at the back of the field with Froome at the centre of them. Swift is their leader for the day but no sign of him at the back, so he should be safely tucked in the middle of the bunch. In that last the peloton took two minutes off the leaders.
Only Savickas is able to still climb in the big ring, with the rest of the break dropping down to a more comfortable gear.
The four leaders are on the long climb, their lead at 8:20 with 100km to go.
The peloton climb and there's more urgency in the field. Uran, Impey, Dan Martin all near the back of the pack as the four leaders reach the Mirador.
92km remaining from 254km
Sadly there are reports that the Norwegian national coach has been taken to hospital after the team car in the race went off the road.
The peloton reaches the summit of the Mirador climb, 6:20 behind the break.
Sonny Colbrelli has a key role for Italy, he's the team's sprinter if the races stays together.
"Let's hope we can do something good. I slept well and don't feel under pressure," he told Italian television before the start.
85km remaining from 254km
The break is on the way out of Ponferrada, passing the second feed zone on the circuit. The four riders look tired after being out from for more than 100km.
The peloton is chasing hard as they start the four final laps.
The weather is also worsening with the rain returning. It was forecast but seems to have started early.
This lap is expected to see some serious attacks on the climbs.
80km remaining from 254km
The generous Poland team has cut the gap to 4:30 now. They've done a huge favour for the rest of the peloton.
The Spanish team is gathering at the front. So too is Great Britain.
The orange jerseys of the Netherlands are also up there as the riders hit the top of the Confederacion climb and dive down the descent.
The Italian has taken charge on the descent and seems ready to go on the offensive. Bennati leads the Squadra.
Italy is on the attack, spitting out several riders from the back.
Fabio Aru is leading the Italians, with Nibali in 15th place over the top of the climb.
The peloton is split and lined out and the pace is still high on the descent.
The four pass the finish, they have been away for exactly 182km. They have four laps to go.
Italy is dragging the peloton to the finish area. A lot of riders are gulping for air. The race is on.
Pete Kennaugh and Luke Rowe are tucked behind the Italians, with the Belgians also up there.
The break is only 2:12 ahead.
The roads are wet and slippy now. The umbrella's are out near the castle.
Four of the Polish riders who lead the chase for much of the race have now climbed off. Their job, for whoever they were riding for, is done.
At the head of the race, Quintero attacks alone.
Italy go on the attack again. Aru and Visconti are powering away with several riders on their wheel.
The peloton is splitting behind.
There is a chase group but the peloton is further back.
Italy has talked about a 'Calculated Chaos' strategy and this is what we are seeing.
There are six riders in the front attack group. Kennaugh is there for Britain.
Two Spaniards have jumped across and others are coming.
A bigger group has formed and Spain seems to want to push the pace.
Juul Jensen (Denmark) is also active in the move.
62km remaining from 254km
The front group has split as they near the top of the Confederacion climb.
The peloton is 20 or so seconds behind.
The leaders dive down the wet descent.
The trio up front seems to have lost steam and other riders are jumping across. Boasson Hagen and Albasini have joined the move.
Geschke is also there. These seem to be teams' second leaders, going on the attack to force other teams to work.
Tim Wellens (Belgium) is also there, as other riders come across. Tony Martin (Germany) and Gianpaolo Caruso (Italy) too.
The peloton is 22 seconds behind.
Australia is leading the chase.
Dani Navarro is there for Spain and trying to get the riders to work smoothly together.
Tony Martin has a slight lead after doing the descent tucked over his bars.
It's surprising that Italy has decided to sacrifice Visconti and Caruso so early. It is difficult to understand who their leader will be in the finale. Nibali already seems to be off the pace.
As the peloton passes the finish, the gap is 30 seconds.
Australia seemed to miss the move and so is leading the chase.
Martin has a 10-second gap as he time trials off the front.
Sep Vanmarcke is also there for Belgium.
There are 11 chasers at 20 seconds.
50km remaining from 254km
The peloton seems to unworried by the attack. We will see on the climb to Confederacion.
The peloton is still pretty big with five Australian riders on the front. It is 30 seconds down on the chasers, who are trying to pull back Tony Martin.
Deignan (Ireland) brings up the rear of the peloton.
Martin i in TT mode, carefully measuring his effort on the gradual climb.
Several riders have already thrown in the towel, including Chris Froome (Great Britain).
Martin's lead is down to just 15 seconds now.
Belgium is near the front of the peloton as the riders reach the summit of the first climb.
Martin cuts a smooth line through the wet corners. He will gain time on the chasers here.
A lone rider has crashed but he does not seem to be part of the peloton.
Martin is caught at the top of the Mirador climb as the chase group splits under the pressure. The peloton is at 40 seconds.
40km remaining from 254km
Martin is still leading the attackers as they tackle the descent.
Visconti is waving his arm, trying to get the riders to work together. However some riders know their team leader is in the peloton.
There is a clear lack of collaboration in the break and the peloton is only 30 seconds behind, with two laps to race.
Riders grab bottles from the pits and see team info from blackboards. No race radio are allowed in the world championships.
On the streets of Ponferrada, Visconti has decided to go alone. He is hoping that other riders will join him and up the speed.
However the peloton is only 20 seconds behind.
Kennaugh is chasing Visconti, as the peloton closes down the other attackers.
The Italian attack did not work, they will have to try another attack on the climbs if they want to distance the sprinters.
Albasini is trying to lead a chase quartet.
The situation is very fluid as riders accelerate from the peloton.
30km remaining from 254km
Visconti and Kennaugh have been caught, with De Marche going on the attack for Italy.
The 4% climb is a good place for strong riders to attack but the road is long and straight.
The elastic keeps stretching in the peloton but does not look like it will snap for now.
Valgren is there for Denmark with De Marche and Gautier but they are being reeled in.
Spain is leading the chase behind.
Belgium is near the front of the peloton but nobody is chasing.
The gap is up to 30 seconds as the peloton hesitates.
Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) has chipped off the front of the peloton and is chasing the attackers.
The Dane up front is Andersen and they have a lead of 8 seconds on Kyiryienka. The peloton is at 32 seconds.
Moreno is trying to go across after the steep but short Mirador climb. Behind the sprinters are hiding and suffering. Swift looked good, while Degenkolb seemed to be suffering.
20km remaining from 254km
There is just over a lap to go and this race could go any way. It's on a knife edge.
The trio wait for Kiryienka in the hope he will help the attack stay away for as long as possible.
The bell rings out to signal the last lap. 18.2km to go.
There are six chasers with the peloton at 44 seconds.
There are 70 riders in the peloton.
16km remaining from 254km
Fortunately the roads are dry in Ponferrada.
Spain is leading the chase with help from Albasini of Switzerland, who is riding for Cancellara.
The peloton is lined out, 35 seconds behind the attackers.
Several teams seem to be riding for a sprint finish.
Valgren Andersen is very strong and a threat up front along with De Marche and Kiryienka.
Italy is near the front and seems to be trying to slow the chase.
The gap is only 18 seconds as the Confederacion climb begins.
Riders are suffering after 240km of racing.
12km remaining from 254km
Garmany is also near the front as a unit.
Who is your favourite to win? In the CN blimp we're going for Gerrans of Australia.
10km remaining from 254km
The break of four has just 15 seconds on the peloton.
Valgren refuses to give up but the peloton is coming.
Belgium is also helping with the chase. The final attacks will surely come on the short but steep Mirador climb.
The four have just 10 seconds as the dive down the descent between the two climbs.
They cross the dam, as does the peloton, with Kwiatkowski making a lone attack from the peloton.
He has a 100m lead and crosses quickly to the attack. Five up front now.
But the peloton is closing them down. They have less than 100m.
6km remaining from 254km
Kwiatkowski hits the final climb first.
Spain is leading the peloton as the sprinters try to hang on.
Rodriguez attacks and blows the peloton apart. Valverde is there too, plus Gerrans and Van Avermaet.
Kwiatkowski is solo up front.
Kwiatkowski has nine seconds at the summit, with the peloton at 15 seconds.
Gilbert is also in the chase group.
Kwiatkowski is trying to stay away all alone. he has 8 seconds on the chasers.
2km remaining from 254km
Gilbert is leading the chase.
Behind Italy is riding for Colbrelli and has five riders. Germany is riding for Degenkolb.
1km remaining from 254km
The six can almost touch Kwiatkowski. He can win this!
Michal Kwiatkowski wins the world title!
Gerrans wins the sprint behind, only one second behind the Pole.
Valverde finishes third yet again.
Kwiatkowski took a huge risk by attacking before the final climb but it paid off.
All the big-name sprinters were in the peloton but Kwiatkowski escaped their grasp.
Kwiatkowski shook his head in disbelief as he neared the line. He then celebrated and kissed his Polish jersey.
Kwiatkowski went across to the late break between the two climbs. He took a risk, went for it on the final climb and then stayed away to the finish.
Kwiatkowski dedicated his rainbow jersey to his family but also to Poland after his teammates rode so well for him.
What a race. A classic world championships with a surprise winner after Kwiatkowski blew the race apart and out powered the sprinters and their teams on the final lap.
Thanks for joining us for our blow by blow live coverage.
We will have a full report, photo gallery, interview and news from Ponferrada very soon.
Our live coverage will return next Sunday for Il Lombardia, the last major Classic of the 2014 season.
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