Peter Sagan wins world road race title with superb late attack
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 28/09/15 11:49am
Peter Sagan is the new men’s world road race champion after blowing all of his rivals away with a superb late attack in Richmond.
The 25-year-old Slovakian surged clear on the penultimate climb of the day, with 2.8km to go, and held on to win by three seconds from runner-up Michael Matthews (Australia) and third-placed Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania).
Ben Swift was Britain's highest-placed finisher in 22nd.
Sagan celebrated the biggest win of his career by throwing his helmet into the crowd and exchanging high-fives with the backmarkers in the peloton as spectators and fellow riders alike shared in what appeared to be a hugely popular victory.
Sagan said: "I think it's the biggest victory [of his career] and I am very happy because I did a lot of sacrifice this last three weeks after the Vuelta [a Espana].
"Everybody had to be tired after 240km. I just ate all the gels that I had and I was waiting for the last cobblestone climb, and from there I was full gas until the finish. If the group take me, I was very tired for the sprint. I did one attack and it was the right attack."
Sagan barely showed his face for the first 255km of the 261.4km race, which took place over 16 laps of a 16.2km course containing three short climbs in the last 4km, two of which were cobbled.
It briefly looked like a strong, seven-man escape group that formed when Britain's Ian Stannard attacked 35km out might be able to hold on to the finish, but they were caught at the end of the penultimate lap after a determined chase from Germany and Australia.
That opened the door for fresh attacks and Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) obliged on the first climb of the last lap, the cobbled Libby Hill, only to be chased down by Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) and then eventually the rest of the peloton as the field came back together once more.
Van Avermaet was clearly in determined mood and made a move of his own at the bottom on the second climb, the cobbled 23rd Street, but just as he was getting up to top speed, Sagan came searing past and instantly opened up a gap in spite of gradients entering the mid-teens in percentage.
Van Avermaet and Boasson Hagen once again gave chase, but Sagan arrived at the final climb, up Governor Street, with a 75m lead intact and had brilliantly managed to extend that to 100m by the top as his two pursuers finally cracked.
Now he had to hold off the surging peloton on the 680m drag to the finish line and although tiring, he managed to do so with enough of a gap to start celebrating 30m out.
Sagan dedicated much of his victory speech to talking about the refugee crisis in Europe, before adding: "I saw a lot of comments from people that I'm not good for the long race, but now I have this jersey and I hold it for all next year."
Men's World Championship road race result
1 Peter Sagan (Slovakia), 6:14:37
2 Michael Matthews (Australia), +3sec
3 Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuani), same time
4 Alexander Kristoff (Norway), st
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spain), st
6 Simon Gerrans (Australia), st
7 Tony Gallopin (France), st
8 Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland), st
9 Rui Costa (Portugal), st
10 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), st
22 Ben Swift (Great Britain), st
31 Steve Cummings (Great Britain), +15
51 Ian Stannard (Great Britain), +55
57 Adam Yates (Great Britain), st
101 Scott Thwaites (Great Britain), +6:43