Sagan takes historic third world championship in Bergen

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.

Final 4 km, shot from heli. #Bergen2017

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Slovakia)6:28:11
2Alexander Kristoff (Norway)Row 1 - Cell 2
3Michael Matthews (Australia)Row 2 - Cell 2
4Matteo Trentin (Italy)Row 3 - Cell 2
5Ben Swift (Great Britain)Row 4 - Cell 2
6Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)Row 5 - Cell 2
7Michael Albasini (Switzerland)Row 6 - Cell 2
8Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Colombia)Row 7 - Cell 2
9Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan)Row 8 - Cell 2
10Julian Alaphilippe (France)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)Row 11 - Cell 2
13Tony Gallopin (France)Row 12 - Cell 2
14Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)Row 13 - Cell 2
15Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)Row 14 - Cell 2
16Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Russian Federation)Row 15 - Cell 2
17Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)Row 16 - Cell 2
18Sergei Chernetski (Russian Federation)Row 17 - Cell 2
19Rui Costa (Portugal)Row 18 - Cell 2
20Simon Geschke (Germany)Row 19 - Cell 2
21Michael Valgren Andersen (Denmark)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Lukas Postlberger (Austria)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Ilnur Zakarin (Russian Federation)Row 22 - Cell 2
24Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)Row 23 - Cell 2
25Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)Row 24 - Cell 2
26Daniel Martin (Ireland)Row 25 - Cell 2
27Rigoberto Uran (Colombia)0:00:05
28Alberto Bettiol (Italy)Row 27 - Cell 2
29Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark)0:00:27
30Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)0:01:04
31Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain)Row 30 - Cell 2
32Julien Simon (France)Row 31 - Cell 2
33Nicolas Roche (Ireland)Row 32 - Cell 2
34Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)0:01:20
35Guillaume Boivin (Canada)Row 34 - Cell 2
36Peter Kennaugh (Great Britain)0:01:22
37Warren Barguil (France)0:01:23
38Diego Ulissi (Italy)Row 37 - Cell 2
39Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)0:02:32
40Nikias Arndt (Germany)Row 39 - Cell 2
41Michael Schar (Switzerland)Row 40 - Cell 2
42Luka Pibernik (Slovenia)Row 41 - Cell 2
43Aleksejs Saramotins (Latvia)Row 42 - Cell 2
44Stefan Kung (Switzerland)Row 43 - Cell 2
45Juraj Sagan (Slovakia)Row 44 - Cell 2
46Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)Row 45 - Cell 2
47Marcus Burghardt (Germany)Row 46 - Cell 2
48Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic)Row 47 - Cell 2
49Daryl Impey (South Africa)Row 48 - Cell 2
50Silvan Dillier (Switzerland)Row 49 - Cell 2
51Tobias Ludvigsson (Sweden)Row 50 - Cell 2
52Michal Golas (Poland)Row 51 - Cell 2
53Alex Howes (United States Of America)Row 52 - Cell 2
54Imanol Erviti (Spain)Row 53 - Cell 2
55Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)Row 54 - Cell 2
56Odd Christian Eiking (Norway)Row 55 - Cell 2
57Elia Viviani (Italy)Row 56 - Cell 2
58Jose Rojas (Spain)Row 57 - Cell 2
59Sonny Colbrelli (Italy)Row 58 - Cell 2
60Simon Clarke (Australia)Row 59 - Cell 2
61Jan Polanc (Slovenia)Row 60 - Cell 2
62Mitchell Docker (Australia)Row 61 - Cell 2
63Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina)Row 62 - Cell 2
64Tiago Machado (Portugal)Row 63 - Cell 2
65Ricardo Vilela (Portugal)Row 64 - Cell 2
66Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain)Row 65 - Cell 2
67Jarlinson Pantano Gomez (Colombia)Row 66 - Cell 2
68Stefan Denifl (Austria)Row 67 - Cell 2
69Tony Martin (Germany)Row 68 - Cell 2
70David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spain)Row 69 - Cell 2
71Bob Jungels (Luxembourg)Row 70 - Cell 2
72Dylan Teuns (Belgium)Row 71 - Cell 2
73Oliver Naesen (Belgium)Row 72 - Cell 2
74Sebastian Langeveld (Netherlands)Row 73 - Cell 2
75Michael Morkov (Denmark)Row 74 - Cell 2
76Christopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)Row 75 - Cell 2
77Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)Row 76 - Cell 2
78Andrey Grivko (Ukraine)0:03:13
79Jan Barta (Czech Republic)Row 78 - Cell 2
80Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kazakhstan)Row 79 - Cell 2
81Hugo Houle (Canada)Row 80 - Cell 2
82Pawel Poljanski (Poland)Row 81 - Cell 2
83Natnael Berhane (Eritrea)Row 82 - Cell 2
84Anthony Roux (France)Row 83 - Cell 2
85Lilian Calmejane (France)Row 84 - Cell 2
86Cyril Gautier (France)Row 85 - Cell 2
87Jens Keukeleire (Belgium)Row 86 - Cell 2
88Salvatore Puccio (Italy)Row 87 - Cell 2
89Jasper Stuyven (Belgium)0:05:49
90Paul Martens (Germany)Row 89 - Cell 2
91Matej Mohoric (Slovenia)Row 90 - Cell 2
92Luka Mezgec (Slovenia)Row 91 - Cell 2
93Heinrich Haussler (Australia)Row 92 - Cell 2
94Jack Haig (Australia)Row 93 - Cell 2
95Tiesj Benoot (Belgium)0:06:33
96Lukasz Wisniowski (Poland)0:06:37
97Scott Thwaites (Great Britain)0:07:33
98Mark Christian (Great Britain)Row 97 - Cell 2
99Rick Zabel (Germany)Row 98 - Cell 2
100Fabian Lienhard (Switzerland)Row 99 - Cell 2
101Amund Grondahl Jansen (Norway)Row 100 - Cell 2
102Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania)Row 101 - Cell 2
103Luis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spain)Row 102 - Cell 2
104Lars Boom (Netherlands)0:07:35
105Daniele Bennati (Italy)Row 104 - Cell 2
106Jesus Herrada (Spain)Row 105 - Cell 2
107Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spain)Row 106 - Cell 2
108Marc Soler (Spain)Row 107 - Cell 2
109Kiel Reijnen (United States Of America)0:09:21
110Tim Wellens (Belgium)Row 109 - Cell 2
111Gregory Rast (Switzerland)0:09:24
112Marco Haller (Austria)Row 111 - Cell 2
113Alessandro De Marchi (Italy)0:09:26
114Nils Politt (Germany)0:10:21
115Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Colombia)Row 114 - Cell 2
116Jasha Sutterlin (Germany)Row 115 - Cell 2
117Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain)Row 116 - Cell 2
118Johannes Frohlinger (Germany)Row 117 - Cell 2
119Koen De Kort (Netherlands)Row 118 - Cell 2
120Antoine Duchesne (Canada)Row 119 - Cell 2
121Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)Row 120 - Cell 2
122Olivier Le Gac (France)Row 121 - Cell 2
123Mihkel Raim (Estonia)0:11:53
124Joseph Rosskopf (United States Of America)Row 123 - Cell 2
125Daniel Hoelgaard (Norway)Row 124 - Cell 2
126Ryan Mullen (Ireland)Row 125 - Cell 2
127Jiri Polnicky (Czech Republic)Row 126 - Cell 2
128Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kazakhstan)Row 127 - Cell 2
129Dion Smith (New Zealand)Row 128 - Cell 2
130Jose Goncalves (Portugal)Row 129 - Cell 2
131Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Argentina)Row 130 - Cell 2
132Jean-Pierre Drucker (Luxembourg)Row 131 - Cell 2
DSQGianni Moscon (Italy)Row 132 - Cell 2
DNFKrists Neilands (Latvia)Row 133 - Cell 2
DNFTruls Korsaeth (Norway)Row 134 - Cell 2
DNFMichal Kolar (Slovakia)Row 135 - Cell 2
DNFJack Bauer (New Zealand)Row 136 - Cell 2
DNFLuke Durbridge (Australia)Row 137 - Cell 2
DNFWout Poels (Netherlands)Row 138 - Cell 2
DNFConor Dunne (Ireland)Row 139 - Cell 2
DNFAndrey Amador (Costa Rica)Row 140 - Cell 2
DNFNairo Quintana (Colombia)Row 141 - Cell 2
DNFStanislau Bazhkou (Belarus)Row 142 - Cell 2
DNFRuben Guerreiro (Portugal)Row 143 - Cell 2
DNFTejay Van Garderen (United States Of America)Row 144 - Cell 2
DNFMaciej Paterski (Poland)Row 145 - Cell 2
DNFJos Van Emden (Netherlands)Row 146 - Cell 2
DNFRory Sutherland (Australia)Row 147 - Cell 2
DNFJuan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Colombia)Row 148 - Cell 2
DNFJay Mc Carthy (Australia)Row 149 - Cell 2
DNFAlexey Vermeulen (United States Of America)Row 150 - Cell 2
DNFErik Baska (Slovakia)Row 151 - Cell 2
DNFMarek Canecky (Slovakia)Row 152 - Cell 2
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Poland)Row 153 - Cell 2
DNFSebastian Henao Gomez (Colombia)Row 154 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Kirsch (Luxembourg)Row 155 - Cell 2
DNFAlexander Porsev (Russian Federation)Row 156 - Cell 2
DNFWillem Jakobus Smit (South Africa)Row 157 - Cell 2
DNFJan Tratnik (Slovenia)Row 158 - Cell 2
DNFAlexis Gougeard (France)Row 159 - Cell 2
DNFAdam Blythe (Great Britain)Row 160 - Cell 2
DNFOwain Doull (Great Britain)Row 161 - Cell 2
DNFJonathan Dibben (Great Britain)Row 162 - Cell 2
DNFSean McKenna (Ireland)Row 163 - Cell 2
DNFJulien Vermote (Belgium)Row 164 - Cell 2
DNFKim Magnusson (Sweden)Row 165 - Cell 2
DNFPetr Vakoc (Czech Republic)Row 166 - Cell 2
DNFKristoffer Skjerping (Norway)Row 167 - Cell 2
DNFAugust Jensen (Norway)Row 168 - Cell 2
DNFMaxim Belkov (Russian Federation)Row 169 - Cell 2
DNFNelson Andres Soto Martinez (Colombia)Row 170 - Cell 2
DNFJhonatan Restrepo Valencia (Colombia)Row 171 - Cell 2
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Netherlands)Row 172 - Cell 2
DNFAlo Jakin (Estonia)Row 173 - Cell 2
DNFAksel Nommela (Estonia)Row 174 - Cell 2
DNFSerghei Tvetcov (Romania)Row 175 - Cell 2
DNFMads Pedersen (Denmark)Row 176 - Cell 2
DNFCharalampos Kastrantas (Greece)Row 177 - Cell 2
DNFSalaheddine Mraouni (Morocco)Row 178 - Cell 2
DNFPatrik Tybor (Slovakia)Row 179 - Cell 2
DNFIan Stannard (Great Britain)Row 180 - Cell 2
DNFIvan Savitckii (Russian Federation)Row 181 - Cell 2
DNFJosef Cerny (Czech Republic)Row 182 - Cell 2
DNFElchin Asadov (Azerbaijan)Row 183 - Cell 2
DNFKostyantyn Rybaruk (Ukraine)Row 184 - Cell 2
DNFNathan Brown (United States Of America)Row 185 - Cell 2
DNFValens Ndayisenga (Rwanda)Row 186 - Cell 2
DNFMekseb Debesay (Eritrea)Row 187 - Cell 2
DNFEugert Zhupa (Albania)Row 188 - Cell 2
DNFYauhen Sobal (Belarus)Row 189 - Cell 2
DNFKing Lok Cheung (Hong Kong, China)Row 190 - Cell 2
DNFPatrick Bevin (New Zealand)Row 191 - Cell 2
DNFMatti Manninen (Finland)Row 192 - Cell 2
DNFMathew Hayman (Australia)Row 193 - Cell 2
DNFAmanuel Ghebreigzabhier Werkilul (Eritrea)Row 194 - Cell 2
DNSDamien Shaw (Ireland)Row 195 - Cell 2

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