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UCI Road World Championships 2017: Elite Men - Road Race

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The day of days has arrived. The elite men's road race brings the curtain down on the World Championships in Bergen, and the peloton faces a short and scenic preamble from Rong before they reach the finishing circuit in Bergen. The opening 40 kilometres are a tale of two bridges. The race crosses the spectacular Rognesund bridge after 10 kilometres, then tackles a small climb at Kolltveit after 25 kilometres, before crossing the dramatic Sotra suspension bridge. After 40 kilometres, the race enters the circuit in Bergen, where riders will face 12 ascents of the climb of Salmon Hill before the 2017 world champion is crowned.

The total race distance is some 267.5 kilometres, and the action gets underway at 10.05am local time.

 

The peloton is currently rolling through the short neutralised zone beneath grey skies. Two-time world champion Peter Sagan (Slovakia) sits near the front of the peloton as we wait for hostilities to begin in earnest. A year ago, the decisive split took place long before the race reached the circuit in Doha, but this morning's preamble seems unlikely to prove quite as pivotal.

 

267km remaining from 267km

The bunch reaches kilometre zero, but the flag has not been dropped just yet, as the commissaires wait for a couple of early fallers to latch back on.

 

266km remaining from 267km

The elite men's road race is underway. Alo Jakin (Estonia) was the early faller, but he is back in touch on the rear of the peloton.

 

265km remaining from 267km

Conor Dunne (Ireland) is the first attacker at these World Championships, and a couple of riders are bridging across to him.

 

Dunne has his fellow Irishman Sean McKenna and Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan) for company at the front of the race. Two more small groups of riders are trying to forge across, but the peloton has spread across the road. This break looks like it might have legs. 

 

262km remaining from 267km

Eugert Zhupa (Albania) and Salaheddine Mraouni (Morocco) have joined Dunne, McKenna and Asadov at the front. Andrey Amador (Costa Rica) is in a determined group that is attempting to swell this break still further. 

 

260km remaining from 267km

There are ten riders at the front of the race with a lead over the peloton: Willem Jakobus Smit (South Africa), Alexey Vermeulen (USA), Matti Manninen (Finland), Kim Magnusson (Sweden), Andrey Amador (Costa Rica), Conor Dunne (Ireland), Sean McKenna (Ireland), Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan), Eugert Zhupa (Albania) and Salaheddine Mraouni (Morocco).

 

257km remaining from 267km

The peloton is content to grant the ten leaders their freedom, and their advantage has stretched out quickly to 2:45. For the time being, the host broadcaster seems determined to show four lingering landscape shots for every quick grab of the race.

 

254km remaining from 267km

The break's lead extends to four minutes over an ambling peloton, where Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) pedals smilingly a few rows back from the front.

 

250km remaining from 267km

Peter Sagan (Slovakia) is seeking a third successive world title, but claimed yesterday that he has been suffering from illness in the build-up to the race. “I hope my form is good. I had a little sickness last week. We’ll see how it goes. For sure after my sickness I’m not in my best shape but I’ll do my best," Sagan said. Stephen Farrand has the full story here.

 

249km remaining from 267km

The ten escapees, meanwhile, are combining well together and their lead has yawned out to almost 7 mintes.

 

Julian Alaphilippe leads the French challenge in Cyrille Guimard's first outing as national team coach. The decision to leave Arnaud Demare and Nacer Bouhanni at home caused a mild ripple, but Alaphilippe has seen enough this week to believe the race will not finish in a bunch sprint. "When we arrived on Friday, we saw the finale of the U23 race on TV. We saw that it was hard enough for a couple of riders to break away. Even if that can be completely different on Sunday, I think this is a demanding course," said Alaphilippe, who won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana. "I have recuperated well from the Vuelta. I ended it tired like everyone else but I was not that bad. After a few days I was already looking forward to being here."

 

243km remaining from 267km

The ten escapees hit the climb of Kolltveit with a lead of 9 minutes over the peloton. Suffice to say that the crowds are a little more visible and audible than in Qatar a year ago...

 

239km remaining from 267km

The escapees are now traversing the Sotra Bridge, still with a hefty buffer over a peloton where Belgium and Slovakia have riders on duty on the front.

 

A year ago in Doha, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff trod on one another toes in spectacular fashion in the finishing straight, but both men are back in the Norwegian team for this year's Worlds. Thor Hushovd, world champion in 2010, believes the pair can work together this year despite their differences. Edvald has to follow the moves near the end but if that doesn't work then you need to have a plan with who will sprint. If you do things like last year and you both sprint and then you get sixth and seventh, well it's embarrassing," Hushovd says. "That's always been the problem in Norwegian cycling – there's never been one captain. We're a small federation so the coach could never decide on who was the leader. During my career, I was never the captain. The year I won, me and Edvald both had a free role, but that worked." Read the full story here.

 

231km remaining from 267km

The ten escapees have stretched their lead to ten minutes as they approach Bergen and the first partial lap of the finishing circuit.

 

227km remaining from 267km

Julien Vermote assumes his familiar position at the head of the peloton. The Belgian will gradually chip away at the escapees' lead on behalf of Greg Van Avermaet.

 

225km remaining from 267km

The bunch has reached Bergen and is about to enter the finishing circuit. The first six full laps or so will be largely attritional, before the favourites start to send out their advance parties in the final 100 kilometres of racing.

 

Edvald Boasson Hagen drops back to the team car for a quick parley. The pace is still relatively steady, with Zdenek Stybar's Czech teammate riding on the front of the peloton.

 

222km remaining from 267km

The escapees hit Salmon Hill for the first time with a lead of 9:47 over the peloton and with the cries of thousands of Norwegian fans ringing in their ears. 

 

It is curious to see the Czech squad riding on the front with such numbers at this early point, though I recall there was similar puzzlement in the press room in Ponferrada when the Polish team upped the pace en masse early in 2014 when one might have expected more fancied squads to take up the reins. A few hours later, Michal Kwiatkowski was the world champion...

 

That said, the, er, alignment of nations' mutual interests is always one of the intriguing subplots at the World Championships. In Zolder in 2002, for instance, it seemed like more than half the world wanted to give Mario Cipollini an armchair ride to the finish. So it goes.

 

218km remaining from 267km

Julien Vermote resumes his place at the head of the peloton as it hits Salmon Hill. The bunch is now 9:20 down on the ten leaders.

 

214km remaining from 267km

When Tom Dumoulin eschewed the Vuelta a Espana to focus on the World Championships, most assumed that he had eyes only for the time trial title. After claiming both the team and individual time trials thus far, however, the Dutchman is seeking a hat-trick this afternoon. And on his 2017 form, who would bet against him? "I've always said I'm at this year’s World Championships for all three titles. The first two races have given me two world titles. I'm still very focused on a third and I really like the idea of becoming a triple world champion," said Dumoulin. Stephen Farrand has the whole story here.

 

210km remaining from 267km

Vermeulen leads the break across the finish line for the first time. They have 11 laps of the 19.1km circuit still to go, and a lead of 8:30 over the peloton.

 

A reminder of the names in this break, which went clear in the opening kilometres: Willem Jakobus Smit (South Africa), Alexey Vermeulen (USA), Matti Manninen (Finland), Kim Magnusson (Sweden), Andrey Amador (Costa Rica), Conor Dunne (Ireland), Sean McKenna (Ireland), Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan), Eugert Zhupa (Albania) and Salaheddine Mraouni (Morocco).

 

 

Josef Cerny (Czech Republic) leads the bunch across the finish line for the first time with a deficit of 8 minutes on the ten leaders.

 

203km remaining from 267km

There is a chance of rain later in the afternoon, but for now at least, the Bergen circuit is bathed in pleasant sunshine, and plenty of riders are taking advantage of the relatively relaxed pace to divest themselves of outer layers.

 

On Thursday, David Lappartient was elected president of the UCI after delivering a resounding 37-8 defeat to the incumbent, Brian Cookson. Belgian Cycling Federation president Tom Van Damme maintained that Cookson had "lost his dynamism" and you can read the full story here.

 

200km remaining from 267km

Into the final 200 kilometres for the escapees, who have a lead of 7 minutes over a peloton where Vermote and the Czech squad continue to set the tempo. A delegation from Norway is seated towards the head of the peloton but maintaining a watching brief for the time being. 

195km remaining from 267km

The Netherlands proved the strongest team in yesterday's elite women's race, even if we had something of an unexpected winner. Chantal Blaak was full value for her victory, mind. She recovered from a mid-race crash, ignited the winning move on the penultimate lap, and then seized her opportunity with a fine attack on the last descent off Salmon Hill. With Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten expertly policing the chase, the result was never in doubt once Blaak went clear. Read the full report here.

 

191km remaining from 267km

The leaders cross the finish line for the second time. Ten laps from home, their lead is 6:45. It would be a surprise to see any movement from the main peloton over the next couple of laps. Most teams will be content with the current situation, and glad to leave Vermote and the Czechs to keep tabs on the escape.

 

The average speed thus far, incidentally, is 40.363kph. The peloton has shaved its deficit slightly, and it now stands at 6:30.

 

185km remaining from 267km

The favourites for victory are all tucked safely in the main peloton at this early juncture. One man we can expect to see on the final lap is Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) and the 2014 world champion is bullish about his prospects of being in a break with Peter Sagan, as Patrick Fletcher discovered. After beating Sagan at Strade Bianche in 2014, E3 Harelbeke in 2016 and Milan-San Remo this year, Kwiatkowski certainly has previous in this department.

 

180km remaining from 267km

Vemote leads the pelootn on Salmon Hill, and it's interesting to note that Greg Van Avermaet has moved towards the head of the bunch. Michael Matthews (Australia) is also staying very vigilant and close to the fray.

 

178km remaining from 267km

Ben Swift is at the rear of the peloton on Salmon Hill, but only because he is engaged in divesting himself of his jacket. The UAE-Team Emirates rider is Britain's best card for a high finish this afternoon.

 

172km remaining from 267km

Amador, Vermeulen, Dunne, McKenna, Smit, Manninen, Magnusson, Zhupa, Asadov and Mraouni cross the finish line with 9 laps to go and a lead of 6:20 over the bunch.

Silver medallist in Richmond two years ago and 4th in Doha in 2016, Michael Matthews (Australia) is rightly among the favourites this afternoon, though he suspects that the road to victory goes through the reigning champion Sagan. "I think we just need to keep throwing stuff at him, I guess," Matthews told Cyclingnews. "I'm just going in there knowing that I've had a good year and believing in myself. It's something that you need to do because even though it's the end of the season everyone is flying." Read the full story here.

 

Matthews has suffered an early blow, however: he has lost teammate and road captain Mat Hayman to a crash. The 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner has been forced to abandon the race.

 

167km remaining from 267km

The temperature is rising in Bergen and the break's lead is beginning the melt beneath the early afternoon sun. The gap over the peloton is down to 5:40.

 

Belgium have two of the outstanding favourites for victory in their ranks today in the shape of Tour of Flanders winner Philippe Gilbert and Paris-Roubaix winner Greg Van Avermaet. They had an uneasy coexistence at Lotto and had to be handed separate spring programmes at BMC, but their once bitter rivalry has eased somewhat in recent years. Gilbert rode on Van Avermaet's behalf in Ponferrada in 2014, for instance, two years after Van Avermaet was part of his guard in Valkenburg. It's not entirely clear who is the boss this afternoon for Belgium, mind. "It's not a problem, we’re going to do first and second," Gilbert joked. Read the full story here.

 

164km remaining from 267km

Asadov is beginning to show signs of struggling at the rear of the break every time the road climbs. They have been off the front for over 100 kilometres and there still more than 100 miles - or some four hours of racing - still to come...

 

Daniel Benson has visited the Australian team bus and he informs us that Mat Hayman did not sustain any serious injury in his crash. The veteran is currently being assessed in the medical truck past the finish line. 

 

159km remaining from 267km

There has been an injection of pace in the main peloton, and the break's lead has been clipped still further. 4:35 the gap.

 

Peter Sagan is tucked in around 20 riders from the front of the peloton and is pedalling with great agility. For the main contenders, these early laps are a question of saving energy and staying out of trouble. As simple and as complicated as that.

 

152km remaining from 267km

Eight laps to go for the leaders, whose advantage has dropped to 4:30 over the peloton. 

 

The indefatigable Vermote still leads the bunch as it passes through the start-finish. The Belgian will leave Quick-Step at season's end to re-join Mark Cavendish at Dimension Data in 2018.

 

Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) and Nairo Quintana (Colombia) are, for the time being, situated at the rear of the peloton, though we can expect the Dutchman to be prominent towards the front in the finale.

 

Quintana's teammate Fernando Gaviria suggested  he has the distance in his legs at Milan-San Remo over the past two years. The Colombian has impressed in the build-up to these Worlds yet somehow stayed partly under the radar. Speaking last week, mind, Alberto Contador picked Gaviria as his favourite for the rainbow jersey.

 

Matti Manninen (Finland) loses contact with the break as they tackle Salmon Hill once again. Elchin Asadov is only just about hanging in there, but he will survive to the top.

 

The most notable debutant at this World Championships is 70 years old. Cyrille Guimard tackles his first Worlds as French national coach, after leading them at the European Championships in August. Pierre Carrey sat down with Guimard ahead of the Worlds to pen this fascinating profile.

 

Daniel Benson reports that Mat Hayman crashed while trying to avoid hitting a car, and he has received five stitches to his chin.

 

138km remaining from 267km

The Czech squad and Vermote continue to exchange turns at the head of the peloton. 4:40 the gap to the break.

 

 

133km remaining from 267km

Manninen has been irretrievably distanced from the break on this lap. The nine survivors cross the line with 7 laps to go and a lead of 4:50 over the chasing peloton.

 

Vermote leads the bunch across the line 4;37 down on the nine leaders. We're drawing closer to the point where nations such as Italy and France will start to think about sending riders up to road. For the time being, mind, all seem content with the status quo.

 

We've seen precious little from the German team thus far, and in the absence of John Degenkolb and Andre Greipel, coach Andreas Klier says they are hoping to try to take advantage of a chaotic race. Proceedings have been very orderly to this point, of course. W"e need to see how far we can get into the race but it’s no secret that if Michal Kwiatkowski and the others go then we can’t follow. So we need to find out how we get to the final with as many people as possible and then ask what are we going to do when we are there," Klier said of a team led by Tony Martin and Nikias Arndt.

 

Eugert Zhupa (Albania) leads the break up the lower slopes of Salmon Hill. The Wilier rider seems contractually obliged to infiltrate every early break at the Giro, and he is riding strongly here. 

 

And at that, Zhupa drops back and lets a gap open to the wheel in front of him... Asadov, too, is again showing signs of struggling as Vermeulen lays down the tempo.

 

Conor Dunne, fresh from completing his maiden Grand Tour at the Vuelta, has been generous in his efforts here, and he presses on at the head of the break near the top of Salmon Hill. 

 

124km remaining from 267km

Vermote, Josef Cerny and Jiri Polnicky (Czech Republic) continue to hold the reins in the main peloton as they begin another assault on Salmon Hill. 

 

Zhupa was dropped by the break near the top of Salmon Hill, incidentally, but he is chasing back on furiously on the descent. 

 

121km remaining from 267km

Zhupa is safely back aboard the break of nine. Amador sits at the back and rifles unconcernedly through his musette.

 

Mat Hayman has described the crash that brought his World Championships to a premature end. 

"I’m not sure if I actually hit the car. I came pretty close. I was coming back from a stop and I have the feeling that a lot of the guys here in the convoy don’t drive the rest of the year at races. I saw the footage of the U23 rider and it was along the same idea. All the cars stopped in the middle of the corner, people were moving and I had no where to go. A whole bunch of cars just stopped and no one seemed to want to give the riders the right of way. Maybe I expected too much from the convoy. Normally the guys I’d race with, the drivers you’re with, in these races, they know when a rider is coming back and they give way.

"I tried to hold it up. All the cars were stopped in the second corner before the descent before going into the tunnel. They seemed to all misjudge it. They stopped quickly and that pushed me onto the wrong side of the road. I had no where to go.

"The bike was a bit of right off and by then I was behind and there wasn’t much chance of getting another bike. I was resigned to getting into the Shimano car and coming back to the pits. That’s possibly my last World Championships and not way I wanted to end it."

 

After the Space Odyssey-like silence of Doha a year ago, the decibel levels are considerably higher in Bergen this time around. The home nation, meanwhile, has slotted a rider into the chase effort in the main peloton.

 

114km remaining from 267km

Another lap completed for the leaders. The average speed thus far is 39.769kph, but we can expect the pace to ratchet up significantly once we hit the final 100 kilometres.

 

There has been a slight injection of pace in the peloton, which crosses the line 3:08 down on the nine leaders with 6 laps to go.

 

Kristoffer Skjerping is the Norwegian rider who has joined the pursuit effort at the head of the peloton.

 

112km remaining from 267km

Maxim Belkov (Russia) attacks from the peloton shortly after crossing the line with 6 laps to go. The Russian would probably have hoped for some company, but he seemed content to press on alone for the time being.

 

Belkov pedals smoothly on the climb of Solheimsviken as he sets out in lone pursuit of the break. He is 2:08 down on the escapees and 30 seconds clear of the bunch.

 

Asadov sits up near the top of Solheimsviken, and drops out of the break. Zhupa has also been distanced, and this time it could be terminal for the Albanian.

 

108km remaining from 267km

Belkov can see the two dropped riders up ahead as he continues to chase the seven remaining members of the break. Smit, Vermeulen, Magnusson, Amador, Mraouni and the Irish duo of Dunne and McKenna are the men still at the front.

 

The full story of Mat Hayman's crash is now online. It's a deeply disappointing end to what might be the Australian's final World Championships, and it also raises some uncomfortable questions for the UCI and the race organisation. 

 

Mraouni begins to lose contact with the break as the gradient stiffens near the top of Salmon Hill and Vermeulen turns the screw.

 

105km remaining from 267km

Belkov remains caught in no man's land as he crests Salmon Hill. He is 1:54 down on the six leaders and 45 seconds clear of the peloton.

 

100km remaining from 267km

Into the final 100 kilometres for the six survivors from the early break, Willem Jakobus Smit (South Africa), Alexey Vermeulen (USA), Kim Magnusson (Sweden), Andrey Amador (Costa Rica), Conor Dunne and Sean McKenna (Ireland). They have 1:50 in hand on Belkov and just under 3 minutes on the peloton.

 

95km remaining from 267km

Magnusson, McKenna, Dunne, Smit, Vermeulen and Amador cross the line with five laps of the circuit to go. They have been off the front now for the bones of 170 kilometres, or 4:19:03 of racing. 

 

Belkov has caught Salaheddine Mraouni (Morocco), and they cross the line 1:36 down on the break.

 

The bunch, led by Norway, Belgium and the Czech Republic, crosses the line 2:45 down on the escapees. 

 

The peloton compresses as it tackles a tight corner at low speed and Nelson Martinez (Colombia) hits the crowd, though he picks himself up quickly and remounts, seemingly without injury.

 

93km remaining from 267km

Vermeulen and the break hit the short climb of Solheimsviken. Belkov and Mraouni swap turns as they give chase, 1:30 down on this leading sextet. 

 

There are two Irishmen in the break and also two Irish riders who will expect to be in contention when the race takes the bell in a couple of hours' time, Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche. Martin has enjoyed a very quiet build-up and the course is ostensibly not difficult enough for a rider of his characteristics, but he normally enjoys solid form in the build-up to Il Lombardia, he also packs a useful sprint from a small group and he knows how to poke out an opportunity.

 

91km remaining from 267km

The peloton seemed to amble through the feed zone on the open laps, but the snatching of bidons and musettes has the feel of a rather more fraught business as we reach the sharp end of the race. 

 

90km remaining from 267km

The Netherlands hit the front of the bunch en masse and there is a sudden increase in urgency in the peloton. Belkov and Mraouni have been pegged back and the bunch is now just 1 minute down on the six leaders. And so it begins...

 

Koen de Kort and Jos van Emden set the pace for the Dutch on the front of the peloton, and they have slashed the break's lead to 40 seconds. Tom Dumoulin will want to burn off as many fast finishers as he can at this early juncture.

 

88km remaining from 267km

The break hits Salmon Hill with a lead of just 38 seconds over the peloton, which is suddenly travelling at a fierce rate of knots. Australia, Italy, France and Belgium all move delegations towards the front in response to the Dutch onslaught.

 

Smit attacks from the break on Salmon Hill, but the real action is now taking place behind, where the speed has ratcheted up dramatically in the peloton. For the first time, riders are being jettisoned out the back on the climb of Salmon Hill.

 

Dylan Teuns takes over at the head of the peloton for Belgium on the climb of Salmon Hill. They are on the cusp of pegging back the remnants of the break, while Smit presses on alone at the front.

 

85km remaining from 267km

Willem Smit (South Africa) leads over the top of Salmon Hill and drops down the other side with a slender lead over the peloton, which has swept up Conor Dunne and company. 

 

Adam Blythe was among the riders dropped on the climb, but he and others have managed to latch back on as the pace abates over the other side. Julien Vermote resumes his role at the head of the peloton, and there is a strong delegation from Kwiatkowski's Polish team lined up behind him.

 

80km remaining from 267km

Smit has been clawed back by the peloton, where Julien Vermote is still tapping out the rhythm on the front.

 

The squadra azzurra have been nigh on invisible thus far, but they have plenty of travelling support on the roadside.

 

76km remaining from 267km

Gruppo compatto as the peloton crosses the finish line with four laps to go. We can surely expect some more aggression on the next ascent of Salmon Hill. There are plenty of teams who want to ensure the fast men are eliminated from contention early.

 

A crash for Julien Vermote at the head of the peloton brings his long, long stint of pace-making to an end. He remounts and begins pedalling once again, but he will surely climb off as soon as he passes the pits.

 

74km remaining from 267km

The pace rises again as the bunch approaches Solheimsviken.

 

73km remaining from 267km

Jack Bauer (New Zealand) accelerates at the head of the peloton, but he can't get any traction. As soon as he is brought to heel, Tiesj Benoot (Belgium) puts in a dig, but he, too, is unable to make any headway.

 

71km remaining from 267km

The bunch hits the lower slopes of Salmon Hill. Chris Juul Jensen (Denmark) launches a tentative attack, and almost immediately, Warren Barguil (France) responds with a fierce acceleration of his own.

 

Barguil has opened a small gap and is hoping to tempt some riders to come with him. The peloton is strung out into one long line, however, and it seems as though Barguil is about to be brought to heel.

 

70km remaining from 267km

Barguil is caught and the pace relents once again. Marco Haller (Austria) is the next to try his luck and opens a small gap.

 

69km remaining from 267km

Haller has opened a decent advantage on Salmon Hill, though one senses the Austrian was expecting somebody would come with him.

 

Tim Wellens (Belgium) obliges, and sets out in lone pursuit of Halller. A few riders are moved to respond to Wellens' attack...

 

Wellens catches Haller at the front. There are Italian, French and Colombian jerseys in the chasing group just behind them...

 

68km remaining from 267km

Wellens and Haller have five or six riders for company as they crest the summit of Salmon Hill, and the peloton is strung out in one long line behind them, with gaps forming here and there.

 

67km remaining from 267km

On the descent of Salmon Hill, there are now 8 riders at the head of the race with a small lead over the main peloton. Lars Boom (Netherlands) is among them, with Wellens and Haller.

 

63km remaining from 267km

Eight riders went clear over the top of Salmon Hill: Alessandro De Marchi (Italy), Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia), Tim Wellens (Belgium), Marco Haller (Austria), David de la Cruz (Spain), Jack Haig (Australia), Lars Boom (Netherlands) and Odd Christian Eiking (Norway). They have a lead of 25 seconds over the peloton.

 

61km remaining from 267km

This is a strong escape and a lot of the main contenders are represented here. France and Poland have missed the bus and are leading the chase in the main peloton.

 

Peter Sagan is not represented here either, but one imagines the six-man Slovak team's orders were simply to stay close to the double world champion for as deep into the race as possible.

 

Boom, Wellens, Pantano, Haller, De La Cruz, Eiking, Haig and De Marchi are combining well at the front, and are defending a lead of 30 seconds over a bunch led by France and Poland.

 

57km remaining from 267km

Boom, Wellens and the break hit the finish line with three laps to go and a healthy lead of 43 seconds over the peloton. 

 

Maciej Bodnar and Maciej Paterski ride on the front of the bunch for Poland. With so many of the favourites represented up ahead, the onus is on Kwiatkowski's men to manage the deficit for the time being.

 

54km remaining from 267km

Wellens and the escapees hit the ascent of Solheimsviken with a lead of 40 seconds over the bunch. The collaboration between this leading eight is smooth for the time being. France and Poland lead the chase behind. A strong delegation from Belgium maintains a watching brief.

 

52km remaining from 267km

France and Poland's combined pursuit is helping to clip the break's lead back to more manageable dimensions. 28 seconds the gap.

 

Wellens tries to breathe more life into this break as their lead drops a little further, to 22 seconds.

 

Gaviria, Dumoulin, Van Avermaet, Gilbert, Kristoff, Boasson Hagen and Matthews all have teammates in this break, which carries a lead of 25 seconds to the base of Salmon Hill.

 

50km remaining from 267km

Sagan's teammate Michal Kolar is among the riders dropped as France push on the pace on the climb of Salmon Hill. 33 seconds the deficit to the break.

 

Wellens has led this escape most of the way up Salom Hill, with Jack Haig and De Marchi sitting on his wheel. At the back of the main peloton, meanwhile, rider after rider is losing contact as fatigue takes its toll.

 

49km remaining from 267km

Wellens swings over atop Salmon Hill. A fine piece of work from the Belgian, who has helped to extend the break's lead to 39 seconds as they begin the sweeping descent.

 

48km remaining from 267km

All of the pre-race favourites are still in the main body of the peloton, with just over two and a half laps of this World Championships remaining.

 

45km remaining from 267km

Wellens is enjoying a fine cameo at the head of the race. He has set the tone for this break, which is still holding a lead of 40 seconds on the peloton. 

 

44km remaining from 267km

Nils Politt (Germany) attacks out of the peloton as the road flattens out after the descent of Salmon Hill. He opens a small gap over the bunch, but he'll struggle to bridge across to the escapees alone.

 

42km remaining from 267km

Boom and the break clatter across the cobbles, still 43 seconds clear of the bunch. Politt remains alone, 30 seconds down.

 

40km remaining from 267km

Pantano, Boom, De Marchi, De la Cruz, Wellens, Haig, Haller and Eiking are still swapping turns at the front, and forcing the French and Polish to force the pace considerably in the main peloton.

 

38km remaining from 267km

Alessandro De Marchi (Italy), Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia), Tim Wellens (Belgium), Marco Haller (Austria), David de la Cruz (Spain), Jack Haig (Australia), Lars Boom (Netherlands) and Odd Christian Eiking (Norway) cross the line with two laps to go. They have been racing for 5 hours and 38 minutes...

 

Politt crosses the line 19 seconds down. Anthony Roux (France) leads the peloton past the same point 35 seconds behind the leaders.

 

36km remaining from 267km

A crash sees Sebastian Henao (Colombia) take a tumble and leave the race in the medical van. It seems Gianni Moscon (Italy) may also have gone down in the same incident.

 

35km remaining from 267km

Politt's solo pursuit is about to be snuffed out as the pace rises once again in the peloton.

 

Tejay van Garderen (USA) crashes just before the penultimate kick up Solheimsviken.

 

33km remaining from 267km

Politt has been swept up by the peloton, which has closed the gap on the break down to just 20 seconds. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain) leads the bunch on the approach to the penultimate ascent of Salmon Hill, with Scott Thwaites and Peter Kennaugh on his wheel.

 

Jack Haig leads the break on the preamble to Salmon Hill, but there is movement in the main bunch...

 

Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) launches a tentative acceleration. Diego Ulissi (Italy) follows and a gap opens temporarily, but Dumoulin quickly relents.

 

32km remaining from 267km

Julian Alaphilippe was prompt, too, in responding to Dumoulin's initial probe. Will he try again on the climb proper?

 

Wellens leads the break onto Salmon Hill with a gap of just 6 seconds over the peloton.

 

Tom Dumoulin launches another rasping attack on Salmon Hill. This has the feel of a key move...

 

Dumoulin hasn't managed to get away alone but he has forced a split. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) is among the eight or so riders in contact with the Dutchman, while the peloton is just behind them.

 

Only four riders remain in front, meanwhile: Haig, Eiking, De la Cruz and Wellens. This quarter has a small lead over the front of the peloton, which has caught back up to Dumoulin, Gilbert et al.

 

30km remaining from 267km

Wellens, Haig, Eiking and De la Cruz crest the summit of Salmon Hill with a small lead over a lined out peloton of around 60 riders.

 

28km remaining from 267km

After working well in the break, Lars Boom is now leading the bunch down Salmon Hill in support of Dumoulin. Wellens, De la Cruz, Haig and Eiking still have around 8 seconds in hand on the bunch.

 

27km remaining from 267km

Boom and the peloton are almost upon the escapees. Impressive though Dumoulin's effort on Salmon Hill was, it didn't seem to dislodge any of the principal contenders. 

 

26km remaining from 267km

Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan) has managed to bridge across alone to the escapees on the descent of Salmon Hill, but this group is about to be snuffed out in any case...

 

25km remaining from 267km

The race is back together with a little over a lap to go. The bunch is strung out in one line, and it seems there are at least 60 riders still in contention.

 

24km remaining from 267km

Peter Sagan hasn't been very prominent at any point during the day but he is still tucked in somewhere in this peloton.

 

23km remaining from 267km

Luis Mas (Spain) attacks alone and puts daylight into the peloton, but he surely won't survive long alone out in front.

 

22km remaining from 267km

Luis Mas dangles just ahead of the peloton as he approaches the end of the penultimate lap of the World Championships.

 

21km remaining from 267km

Mas is brought to heel as Belgium and the Netherlands exchange accelerations at the head of the bunch. There is still a sizeable peloton in contention ahead of the bell...

 

19km remaining from 267km

Luis Mas leads the peloton into the final lap of the 2018 World Championships. The final haul up Salmon Hill will surely force a major selection.

 

Gilbert, Boasson Hagen, Michael Albasini, Van Avermaet are all well placed near the head of the peloton. Michal Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan are a little further back in the body of the bunch.

 

18km remaining from 267km

There's a brief lull in the pace as the peloton cross the bridge ahead of the kick up Solheimsviken for the final time. Michael Matthews still has Australian teammates around him near the front.

 

17km remaining from 267km

The speed picks up once again as Oliver Naesen leads Gilbert, Van Avermaet and a delegation of Belgians to the front.

 

Peter Sagan is nowhere to be found at the head of the peloton, but the Norwegian duo of Boasson Hagen and Kristoff are still well positioned towards the front.

 

16km remaining from 267km

Heinrich Haussler takes over on the front for Australia on the climb of Solheimsviken, but Sebastian Langeveld (Netherlands) and Paul Martens (Germany) accelerate past him and open a small gap.

 

15km remaining from 267km

Tiesj Benoot (Belgium) leads the peloton in pursuit of Martens and Langeveld.

 

15km remaining from 267km

Langeveld and Martens have established a useful lead, but the contenders are sparing themselves for the final onslaught on Salmon Hill.

 

14km remaining from 267km

Martens and Langeveld are on the false flat ahead of the climb of Salmon Hill proper. Benoot still leads the bunch for Belgium, 7 seconds behind them.

 

13km remaining from 267km

France take up the reins as the gradient begins to bite, and Cyril Gautier has pegged back Langeveld and Martens.

 

13km remaining from 267km

Tony Gallopin (France) attacks and opens a small gap over the bunch ahead of the climb proper.

 

12km remaining from 267km

Italy and Belgium lead the chase behind Gallopin, who is committed to the move, though surely he won't last too much longer.

 

12km remaining from 267km

Gallopin leads onto Salmon Hill but he is pegged back as the gradient bites.

 

12km remaining from 267km

An acceleration from Christopher Juul Jensen strings out the peloton. Van Avermaet, Dumoulin, Alaphilippe and Gilbert among those to follow...

 

11km remaining from 267km

Julian Alaphilippe (France) launches a vicious acceleration and opens a decent gap over the chasers...

 

Dumoulin and Gilbert can't follow, but Gianni Moscon (Italy) sets out in lone pursuit.

 

10km remaining from 267km

Moscon catches Alaphilippe at the top of the climb of Salmon Hill, and this duo begins the descent with a decent lead over a fragmented peloton. 

 

10km remaining from 267km

Ilnur Zakarin is among those chasing on the desent, with Dumoulin also prominent. 

 

9km remaining from 267km

Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark) leads the chase of Moscon and Alaphilippe on the rapid descent off Salmon Hill. 10 seconds the gap.

 

8km remaining from 267km

There is precious little commitment to the pursuit behind, while Alaphilippe and Moscon are combining very well at the head of the race. They still have 9 seconds in hand on the chasers.

 

7km remaining from 267km

There are around 15 riders in pursuit of Alaphilippe and Moscon. Dumoulin, Ben Swift, Kragh Andersen, Vasili Kiryienka and Rui Costa are among them...

 

5km remaining from 267km

Moscon and Alaphilippe have 6 seconds in hand on Kiryienka and Lukas Pöstlberger, and a little more on the main chasing bunch...

 

4km remaining from 267km

Alaphilippe attacks Moscon on the cobbles as the road flattens out and opens a small gap...

 

3km remaining from 267km

The television pictures for the front of the race are non-existent, but we understand Alaphilippe is alone at the front of the race, with Moscon chasing alone. 

 

2km remaining from 267km

Farcical television coverage for the UCI's showcase event. We have just fixed camera pictures in the final kilometres, so we must wait to see who leads into closing two kilometres...

 

1km remaining from 267km

Alaphilippe was caught ahead of the final kilometre sand a Danish rider leads s small peloton into the last 1,000 metres. We're destined for a sprint...

 

Peter Sagan is in third wheel as Kristoff opens the sprint...

 

It looks as though Peter Sagan has won the world title for the third time in a row, but we await for photo finish. It was Sagan versus Kristoff and it was very, very tight...

 

Peter Sagan (Slovakia) is world champion for the third time in a row.

 

Alexander Kristoff (Norway) takes the silver medal. Michael Matthews (Australia) was a distant third, and has to settle for bronze.

 

Shambolic television production in the final kilometres means that we have no idea how that finale unfolded. Alaphilippe was alone in front with 3 kilometres to go. When pictures returned in the final kilometre, the Frenchman had been caught, and 30 or so riders were lining out for a sprint with a world title on the line. 

 

We barely saw Sagan all day long (and we saw nobody at all in the closing kilometres...) but the Slovak popped up where it mattered to become the first man to win three world titles in succession. 

 

Matteo Trentin (Italy) placed fourth, ahead of Ben Swift (Great Britain).

 

Ben Swift sums it up as he speaks to the BBC past the finish line: "It was all over the place." We'll try to make sense of those breathless final kilometres in due course.

 

Result:

 

1 Peter Sagan (Slovakia)
2 Alexander Kristoff (Norway)
3 Michael Matthews (Australia)
4 Matteo Trentin (Italy)
5 Ben Swift (Great Britain)
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
7 Michael Albasini (Switzerland)
8 Fernando Gaviria (Colombia)
9 Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan)
10 Julian Alaphilippe (France)

 

Peter Sagan walks to the changing area near the podium flanked by his agent Giovanni Lombardi. Alexander Kristoff smiles ruefully and shakes Sagan's hand as he enters. A visibly dejected Michael Matthews walks across to offer his congratulations.

 

Peter Sagan speaks and hints at what we missed out on when the television motorbikes went AWOL on the final lap: "It's not easy, guys. In the last 5 kilometres, I said, 'It's already done, it's gone.' After guys were changing on the front, after I tried to go in the breakaway, after Gaviria tried to close... In the end, it came to a sprint and it was unbelievable."

 

Sagan continues: "Kristoff 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.

"It’s very hard to say (how it came to a sprint), you saw in 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 it came together in the finish in just seconds. You can’t predict it."
 

 

"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 have some friends still in the group," Sagan says. "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."

 

The World Championships are fast beginning to put one in mind of Gary Lineker's old joke about German football. It's a simple race. 200 riders compete for 6 and a half hours and at the end, Sagan always wins. In Richmond, Sagan was clearly the strongest. In Doha, Sagan never missed a beat. Today, in truth, he seemed to be short of his best and was nowhere to be seen as the race ignited on Salmon Hill, but the win is no less impressive for that. With a world title on the line, he dragged himself back into contention and delivered a perfect sprint against the most robust opposition.

 

 

 

There were 26 riders in that sprint at the end, including Tom Dumoulin, Dan Martin, Philippe Gilbert and Ilnur Zakarin. It can't have been easy to organise a lead-out. Sagan had no teammate for company, but he picked his way to the front and delivered the winning sprint.

 

 

 

Sagan is currently in the mixed zone, watching his sprint on television for the first time. He will be due in the press centre for his post-race conference in due course.

 

Result:

 

1 Peter Sagan (Slovakia) 6:28:11
2 Alexander Kristoff (Norway)
3 Michael Matthews (Australia)
4 Matteo Trentin (Italy)
5 Ben Swift (Great Britain)
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
7 Michael Albasini (Switzerland)
8 Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Colombia)
9 Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan)
10 Julian Alaphilippe (France)

 

 

A full report, results and pictures from today's racing are available here.

 

Stephen Farrand has the first reaction from Matteo Trentin (Italy) who had to settle for 4th in the bunch sprint. I know fourth is a good result but when you know you have good legs, it's a big disappointment," Trentin told Cyclingnews. "I'll be honest, I don't think I could have fought for the win. When Sagan and Kristoff opened up their sprint, they distanced us all. But I had the legs to go for bronze against Matthews and missing out is hard to take."

 

Word reaching us that Gianni Moscon (Italy) has been disqualified for taking a tow from a team car when he was chasing back on after his crash with 34 kilometres to go. His fightback didn't make much sense and the footage that has emerged is conclusive. Quite what the commissaires would have done had he gone on to win the race is something to ponder, even if the point is moot. After a (belated) six-week suspension for his deplorable racial abuse of Kevin Reza at the Tour de Romandie, Moscon's behaviour this season has overshadowed anything he has done on the bike during the campaign.

 

Second in Richmond, 4th in Doha, third today... Michael Matthews' skills are such that he will be a contender on just about every manner of Worlds course, but that won't tempter his disappointment one jot this evening. "I’m happy to be on the podium but it was the wrong step," he said. "It was a pretty hectic and there were a lot of attacks going inside the final five kilometres. I just tried to play It cool and save my legs for the sprint. I was in a good position with around 500m to go but I got a little bit swamped by Sagan and one of the Czech rider. I tried to fight my way back between the last two corners but I wasted that energy when I needed it for the sprint. It’s just frustration. It’s hard to say now if I was going to be strong enough to finish it off or not but it would have been nice just to try. I had to use a lot of energy just to get back and then they launched the sprint just as I got back."

 

To read (and watch) more about Moscon's disqualification, click here.

 

Michael Matthews explains what may have went wrong during his bid to become world champion.

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

We will have more news from the world championships coming, so check back on our home page regularly! Plus it's the second UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup from Waterloo, WI so be sure to read Cyclingnews for all the coverage from there.

Thanks for reading!

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