Sagan wins the UCI Road World Championships race title with late solo attack
Peter Sagan made up for a long series of placings and disappointments by winning the Elite men’s Road Race title with a show of strength and bravura.
The 25 year-old Slovakian rider waited for the final lap of the 261km race and then attacked on the steep cobbled climb on 23rd street. He then used his descending skills to distance the peloton and powered up the final climb of the Richmond circuit to win alone.
"Today I was just waiting and waiting. I had my brother with me and my teammates were always with me. If something happened they where always there. It was a little bit crazy during the last laps, and I thought everyone had to be tired. I gave everything on last cobblestone climb and then it was full gas until the finish.”
"I knew that if the group caught me, I was very tired for the sprint but it was the right attack for me. I saw also a lot of comments from people that I am not good for a long race like this. But now I have this jersey and I’ll keep for a full year."
A thrilling race in crescendo
The 261km race was a race of attrition with a crescendo finish as the 16 laps counted down. The short but testing climbs near the end of each lap gradually tired the riders, allowing the strongest to emerge and fight for victory.
Ben King flew the flag for the USA in an early break but the peloton refused to let them open a significant lead and the race came back together under the impulse of the Netherlands and Poland with five laps to go. A new attack formed soon with Taylor Phinney representing the USA this time. Also in the move were Guillaume Boivin (Canada) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus).
The Belgian team gathered on the front of the peloton but the chase of the trio was disrupted when numerous riders were caught up in a crash near the feed zone. Nobody was seriously hurt but the peloton split into several groups, raising the tension in the race. A fierce chase meant the peloton came back together again with 36km to go but more attacks soon followed.
Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands launched a solo move on the climb to the finish area with two laps to go and was quickly joined by Tom Boonen (Belgium), 2014 world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland), Ian Stannard (Great Britain), Andrey Amador (Costa Rica), Dani Moreno (Spain) and Elia Viviani (Italy). It seemed like the decisive move but then other riders came across on the climbs with the peloton also catching the move as the bell for the start of the last lap rang out across Richmond.
The USA’s Tyler Farrar and Kanstantsin Siutsou of Belarus tried to anticipate the late attacks, gaining a slight lead for a few kilometres but they were quickly caught and Zdenek Stybar the Czech Republic lined out the riders on the last climb of Libby Hill. Several big names where there, including John Degenkolb of Germany, Philippe Gilbert of Belgium and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway.
They seemed set to fight out for victory but then Sagan emerged on the steep cobbled climb of 23rd Street, attacked with fury and quickly opened a gap.
He hesitated slightly after the descent but then committed to a solo attack. It was the right decision and he powered up the final climb and down the finishing straight to take the biggest win of his career.
Sagan will wear the iconic rainbow jersey as the UCI World Champion until the 2016 championships are held in Qatar.