For the second year running, Peter Sagan, wearing his Santini skinsuit has been crowned Elite Mens’ Road World Champion after he blazed to victory in a small group sprint ahead of Britain’s Mark Cavendish and Belgium’s Tom Boonen.
The final sprint was composed of three former Elite Men’s World Champions – Boonen, Sagan and Cavendish – taking a leading role, the Slovakian’s blistering late acceleration between Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo and the barriers on the right hand side of the road powered Sagan across the line more than a bike length clear of the Briton. Australia’s Michael Matthews, silver behind Sagan last year in Richmond’s World Championships, placed fourth.
“I can’t believe it, I’m still in shock,”
Sagan said as he received hugs and applause from his team-mates.
In the final, slightly rising sprint for the line, Sagan darted right and Cavendish, having followed Sagan for kilometre after kilometre, made his own way on the left. When the two leading sprinters’ lines merged again with metres of the line, though, Sagan was ahead, and his ferocious acceleration past Nizzolo saw him storm across the finish a bike-length ahead of the Briton. Boonen, meanwhile, took bronze, his first World Championships medal since winning the same race back in 2005.
In the process, Sagan has become just the sixth rider in the history of the World Championships to make a successful defense of his title. Sagan is also the first rider to repeat a World Championships win since Paolo Bettini in 2006-2007 and one of just twelve riders with more than one gold medal in the Road World Championships Elite Men’s title.
“I’m very happy because there was a crosswind and I was the last one to make the first group,” Sagan added.
“In the end, it came down to a bunch sprint. There was a bit of a headwind so I felt I needed to come from the back. I felt I was lucky because [Giacomo] Nizzolo didn’t close me out. If he closed me out for sure we would have crashed because I wasn’t going to brake. We should have crashed but I’m happy. It’s unbelievable.”