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It was a three-Pete! The world championships in Bergen, Norway finished up over the weekend and Peter Sagan took home his third rainbow in a row. Fred Dreier, Caley Fretz, and Spencer Powlison discuss whether WorldTour riders should be allowed in the U23 race, how the American women could have factored in the finale, whether Tom Dumoulin’s TT win is a bad sign for Chris Froome, and more. Plus, a deep discussion of a Belgian team’s new beard ban.
The post VN podcast, ep. 52: Worlds, banned beards, and Froome vs. Dumoulin appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Cycling fans everywhere experienced an excruciating four kilometers of racing Sunday during the climax of the men’s world road race championships. Were they suffering through a max interval on their home trainers? Did the dog knock a scalding cup of coffee into their lap? No — way worse. The TV moto feed cut out. No pictures. Just commentators left guessing and fans left in the dark.
Prior to the Great Bergen Blackout, we were watching a nail-biting chase. Italian Gianni Moscon was off the front with France’s Julian Alaphilippe. Former world time trial champion Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) was chasing with Giro wunderkind Lukas Postlberger (Austria).
And then, we had nothing, nothing but a fixed-camera shot of Bergen, Norway’s quaint harbor and the throngs of salmon-eating fans. The announcers were devastated. Twitter had a melt-down.
Finally, with one kilometer to go, we saw Denmark’s Chris Juul-Jensen appear alone, only to be swallowed up by the field. The sprint between home favorite Alexander Kristoff and Slovak Peter Sagan was thrilling. But what happened before then?
Thankfully, we have the Internet. CyclingHub posted the helicopter footage from the final kilometers. I noticed two key moments.
Overall, Sagan rode a quiet, calculated race. This was to his advantage, but when the cameras cut away he got a bit frisky. Ben Swift (Great Britain) attacked up the right side. What looks to be Kazakhstan’s Alexey Lutsenko follows the move, and Sagan hops on his wheel. A fourth rider, Fernando Gaviria (Colombia), joins. The peloton hits the panic button and closes the gap.
Before long, they catch Kiryienka. Postlberger returned to the peloton just before the fireworks kicked off. More importantly, the frantic pace brings them closer to Moscon and Alaphilippe.
For being such a reliable sprinter, it was surprising to see Gaviria riding for a breakaway in the final kilometers. He didn’t spend a ton of matches to follow Swift’s attack, so he goes again soon thereafter. Sagan again closes a little gap to the Colombian.
However, the move that seals the breakaway’s fate — and Sagan owes Gaviria an overpriced Norwegian beer for this one — comes right before the final kilometer. Gaviria goes yet again, and this time he’s accompanied by Juul-Jensen. They catch the move, bringing the peloton within shouting distance of the front. The Dane keeps going in a bid for solo victory. But the Italians are intent on a sprint finish with Moscon caught. Alberto Bettiol leads out the bunch, and the rest is history.
Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) nearly put the cherry on the cake for Bergen after a week of hosting the 2017 world championships. Only Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) could stop him from winning the men’s road race by half a wheel Sunday.
Norway hosted the worlds for the first time since 1993, when Lance Armstrong won in Oslo. The idea to host another worlds developed after Thor Hushovd’s 2010 worlds victory in Geelong, Australia, and the recent run of success by Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen.
“It was quite insane, a lot of people,” Kristoff commented on the home crowd in the port city, which used to serve the Vikings.
“When you think of how many people were all over the course, then it’s sick. It was a crazy atmosphere.”
The fans built up gradually from the opening team time trial on Sunday. Sunweb won the women’s event just over a week ago.
Controversy surrounded the bike changes allowed for the men’s individual time trial Wednesday, but the 3.4-kilometer uphill finish gave fans a place to gather and party to see their favorites grind past. One over-enthusiastic fan running after German Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) was side-tackled by police.
It became a time trial worth watching, given the tactics and the close three-way battle between eventual winner Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Chris Froome (Sky).
“The atmosphere was amazing,” said four-time world TT champion Martin. “Even if it wasn’t my kind of course, it was one of the best finales I’ve ever raced.”
The rest day allowed organizers to prepare Salmon Hill and the road circuit coming after the early leg down the west coast. It marked four years since Florence hosted the worlds and was the end of Brian Cookson’s short reign as UCI president. In a sport that frequently sees photo-finishes and castigation battles won by seconds, Frenchman David Lappartient took a landslide 37-8 presidential victory during the governing body’s meeting.
Peter Sagan, the eventual elite men’s road race winner and the first rider two earn three consecutive titles, flew in that day. He acknowledged the fans, who eventually stacked the road course 10-deep and waved Norwegian, Slovakian, and even Eritrean flags.
“I heard a story that there was some group of my fans which flew from Krakow in Poland, and half the plane had [Michal] Kwiatkowski [fans] and half a plane for Sagan,” he said. “Another group flew from Vienna, and Prague. … Yes, it was crazy [the amount of people traveling to Bergen].
“What surprised me a lot were the Norwegian fans. It was nice that they also cheered for us, and that’s crazy. They are so happy I am here, and I also really appreciate that from Norway.”
When the television signal on the course briefly vanished at 4km to race, the fixed camera focused on the finishing straight forced viewers to take note of the crowd size. It appeared similar to Richmond, Virginia, when Sagan won his first title two years ago, but it clearly dwarfed the one last year when the peloton raced in the Qatari desert. Sagan said he was sorry to deprive Kristoff the home win and what would have been the cherry on Bergen’s cake.
“For sure it was a great atmosphere,” Kristoff added. “You expect a lot of people, you’ve probably already seen a lot of Norwegians at the Tour de France. I think the whole city and a lot of people from all around the country came here to celebrate.”
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Peter Sagan makes it look easy, even when it’s not.
There was nothing pre-destined about Sagan’s victory Sunday, or in winning an unprecedented third straight men’s world road race title. But it turned out just as many predicted.
The flamboyant Slovakian plucked victory out of the jaws of what looked to be a missed opportunity. After riding almost imperceptibly in the bunch, Sagan burst to the fore in the closing 800 meters. He swept through the final corners in perfect position, and spoiled Alexander Kristoff’s dream finale.
“In the last 5km, I said to myself it was already done. It’s gone,” Sagan said. “Then it changed in the front.”
With a perfectly timed bike throw, Sagan created a club of his own. Now boasting three world titles in a row, Sagan writes a page in cycling’s history books he’ll have to his own.
With rainbow jersey No. 3, Sagan joins some special company. Only four riders — Eddy Merckx, Oscar Freire, Alfredo Binda, and Rik Van Steenbergen — have won three elite men’s world championship titles.
No one’s won three in a row. Call it the Sagan Sweep.
“There are a lot of races in a year, but this one is special,” Sagan said. “You need luck. It’s like a lottery.”
Sagan, of course, has the motor and instincts to create his own luck.
Last year in Qatar, Sagan already became a member of the “repeat” club, joining Georges Ronsse (1928-29), Van Steenbergen (1956-57), Rik Van Loy (1960-61), Gianni Bugno (1991-92), and Paolo Bettini (2006-07) as the only riders who successfully defended their world title.
Until the final frenetic moments Sunday, Sagan’s treble treat wasn’t looking likely. Italy took control of the final laps, and solo fliers such as Julian Alaphilippe and Vasil Kiryienka, the latter who was swept up with 500m to go, looked to disrupt the sprint-finale script that Sagan was counting on.
“Maybe it was karma that I won,” Sagan said. “It was a very unpredictable race.”
Sagan’s treble is extraordinary on many levels.
First off, the worlds road race is one of the most hotly contested races of the season. Everyone comes to win, and Sagan typically races at a numerical disadvantage to larger racing nations. There are never gifts during the worlds.
Second, each worlds course is different. Every circuit presents its unique challenges and difficulties, so it’s rare for a rider to be able to adapt to such variety year after year.
Sagan, as everyone knows, is no ordinary rider.
On Sunday, Sagan confirmed yet again his versatility and ability to react even when the odds are stacked against him.
In Richmond in 2015, he was “Super Sagan,” powering away from an elite field in the closing kilometers to win all alone in the finish-line photograph. The victory elevated Sagan into the upper ranks of the peloton’s hierarchy.
Last year on the desert flats of Qatar, he was the last rider to bridge across to the winning group after the Belgians fractured the peloton in the desert crosswinds. He later uncorked an incredible sprint to beat Tom Boonen and sprinter ace Mark Cavendish. It was an unlikely victory on a course made for pure sprinters.
Norway saw a different Sagan on Sunday. He stayed hidden away on the undulating, technical course for much of the action. The race blew up on Salmon Hill, and he took advantage of the work from the Italians to bring back dangerous attacks from Alaphilippe and Kiryienka. In fact, with two laps to go, Eurosport announcers were saying Sagan was not even in the front group; a testament to just how cagey Sagan was playing it.
You didn’t see Slovakia’s white and blue jersey near the front until the final 800m. Always the expert bike-handler, Sagan positioned himself perfectly on Kristoff’s wheel through the two final sweeping turns. When the Norwegian jumped, Sagan pounced off the wheel, and Michael Matthews slammed his fist in frustration when he couldn’t follow the explosion. Sagan won with a perfectly executed bike throw.
“Every [worlds] victory is special,” he said. “The first one was not expected, and for sure the second was not. This one was harder because it was unpredictable. You have just one shot in your legs in this kind of race.”
The rainbow treble is unprecedented in 84 editions of the men’s road worlds.
Other double-to-triple efforts fell short.
Ronsse came closest, winning bronze in 1930 after winning back-to-back titles. Van Looy doubled in 1960-61 and was second in 1963, just missing becoming the first rider to win three world titles.
Even the great Merckx won three, but he never doubled. Freire was the modern peloton’s Mr. Worlds, winning three titles within a six-year span.
What does Sagan’s world’s treble tell us?
First, he’s an extraordinary rider in international one-day events. As Cavendish said last year, Sagan could win another “two or three worlds” because he has the ability to sprint out of a reduced group after six-plus hours of racing. The past two world titles have proven that.
International competition, at both the worlds and Olympic levels, also tips in Sagan’s favor due to the team dynamics. On the professional circuit, the dominance of a few major teams often skews the outcome. Racing on national teams dilutes that dominance, allowing riders like Sagan and his natural individual prowess to have more ability to shine.
Fans should feel privileged. With Sagan, we’re enjoying arguably one of the best one-day classics riders in history. And with Cavendish as one of history’s best sprinters and Chris Froome as the generational leader in grand tours, the peloton today is replete with riders who will stand the test of time.
How many more can Sagan win? Next year’s climb-heavy course in Austria, on paper at least, looks too hard for Sagan. Strange things can happen on circuit courses, however, so don’t count out the four-sweep just yet.
As one Twitter observer wrote, “Sagan’s rainbow jersey curse is trying to get rid of it …”
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BERGEN, Norway(AFP) — Australia’s Michael Matthews was left ruing a tactical blunder as he had to settle for bronze at the world road race championships won for the third year in a row by Peter Sagan.
Matthews was unable to challenge Sagan and silver-medallist Alexander Kristoff in the sprint finish to the 267.5km race in Bergen on Sunday and afterward admitted he’d made a mistake on the final of 12 laps around the street circuit.
There was a climb around 15km from the finish where Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe and Gianni Moscon of Italy escaped, but both were caught before the finish.
Matthews had also tried to attack that climb and he said he later paid for those efforts.
“What I would change (is) I wouldn’t attack so many times on the final climb,” said the 26-year-old, known as ‘Bling’ for his flashy lifestyle. “I didn’t know it would come down to such a huge bunch sprint. I think I wasted a lot of energy.
“I was trying to go with moves and attacking myself; if I could take something back I think I would sit back with these guys (Sagan and Kristoff) and cruise up the climb.”
When it came to the sprint finale, Kristoff launched his first, but Sagan was ideally placed on his wheel and just had enough strength and speed to inch past the Norwegian and snatch victory in a photo finish.
“Unfortunately I was just not fast enough to keep him behind me,” said Kristoff. “It was close, I did my maximum, I must be happy with the result, but for sure I’m disappointed. “When you see who won it’s not easy to beat him, he won a lot of big races and races typically like this.
“I don’t really know how I could have done anything more — I did a good sprint, I was not going slower at the end. Maybe he was just a little fresher and faster at the end.”
Sagan’s victory in some way helped make up for the disappointment of being kicked off July’s Tour de France after elbowing sprint rival Mark Cavendish during a hectic finish to stage four.
It meant he missed out on winning a sixth straight green jersey — which Matthews took — but Sagan said he’d long made his peace with that issue.
“The Tour de France was never in my mind, it was not happy for me, but I was racing the world championships today — it’s different,” said the Slovak. “I won twice (before), I’m here for the world championships.
“Maybe every time that happens something bad in your life it’s for something good — you have to see that always in an optimistic way.”
Sagan admitted that when Alaphilippe attacked, he thought his chances were over. “I was watching the race from the back and I said ‘ok we go for third, fourth or fifth place,” said Sagan. “For sure I didn’t think anymore for the title. “We (only) realized in the group in the last kilometer (that) we (would) catch Alaphilippe.”
The Frenchman had found himself alone in the lead 4.5km from the finish, but he couldn’t hold on.
“I believed, I gave everything I had,” said Alaphilippe, who finished 10th. “I really wanted it, I had the legs, but that’s the way it goes.”
Italian Gianni Moscon has been disqualified from his original 29th place finish in the elite men’s race at the 2017 UCI World Road Championships on Sunday in Bergen, Norway after taking an extended pull from the team car.
The 25-year-old was involved in a crash at the end of the penultimate lap along with Sebastien Henao (Colombia). The two are teammates on Team Sky. The Colombian was forced to abandon the race due to his injuries, but Moscon managed to rejoin the peloton. He would end up bridging to a late-race attack by Julian Alaphilippe (France) on the final ascent of Salmon Hill and the duo would only be caught in the final couple kilometers.
Video emerged after the race that Moscon’s comeback to the peloton was due to an extended “sticky bottle” from the Italian team’s support car.
In 2015, Italian Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified from the Vuelta a Espana on stage two for also taking an extended two from his team car while attempting to rejoin the peloton.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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Peter Sagan (Slovakia) once again showed he is in a league of his own by winning the UCI World Road Championship on Sunday in Bergen, Norway in a reduced bunch sprint over Norwegian Alexander Kristoff.
Sagan is the first rider in history to win three elite men’s world road championships in consecutive years. He is also the first to win three world titles on three different continents.
“It is not easy,” Sagan said. “In the last kilometers, I said, guys, it’s already gone, it’s done. Guys were chasing in the front. In the end, it came together for the sprint, it’s unbelievable. Kristoff is racing at home, I am sorry, but I am very happy to beat him again. It’s unbelievable for me.
“[3x worlds?]. It’s something special for sure. It doesn’t change anything, but for me, it is something very nice. It’s very hard to say before. You saw in the climb, we were already in two-three pieces. The guys from the back catch us, and after, we came into the finish. It just all happened in seconds. You cannot predict this. Maybe if someone stronger in the front and they could have [won]. I have to say thank you to my teammates and some friends in the group.
“I want to dedicate this victory or this 3rd world champion title to Michele Scarponi, who should have had a birthday tomorrow,” Sagan said. “And to my wife, and we are expecting a baby. It’s a nice finish to the season, and I am very happy.”
A reduced bunch came to the line and Kristoff was the first to launch his sprint. He nearly held off Sagan. Both riders lunged their bikes to the line and neither raised their hands in celebration, as the finish was extremely close. After a tense few moments, Sagan was announced the winner.
Michael Matthews (Australia) powered to the bronze medal, albeit a few bike lengths behind.
The elite men’s world road race championship did not start in the host town of Bergen, but started 39.5 kilometers away in Øygarden under cloudy skies and cool temperatures. When the riders did reach the circuit, they had 17.9 kilometers until the finish line and then would complete 11 full laps of the 19.1-kilometer circuit for a total race distance of 267.5kms. The circuit included the 1.5-kilometer long Salmon Hill, which peaked 10.7 kilometers from the finish.
A lead group of 10 riders formed after the opening kilometers and the peloton seemed not too worried about who was in the lead, as their gap quickly grew to just over 10 minutes. The Belgian team was the first to come to the front to bring a bit of order to the peloton and make sure the gap didn’t get too out of hand.
The leaders were Alexey Vermeulen (United States), Conor Dunne and Sean McKenna (Ireland), Wilmen Smit (South Africa), Eddine Mraouni (Morocco), Andrey Amador (Costa Rica), Kim Magnusson (Sweden), Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan), Matti Manninen (Finland), and Eugert Zhupa (Albania).
Upon entering the circuit in Bergen, the riders were greeted with huge crowds and finally, the sun came out. The breakaway crossed the finish line for the first time with an 8:25 gap over the peloton, but they had a monstrous 11 laps left to complete.
The riders of the team from the Czech Republic took up the pace making at the front of the peloton on the circuit. They were riding in support of team leader and pre-race favorite Zdenek Stybar.
As the laps ticked by, the breakaway began to lose riders. On the seventh of the 12 laps, the breakaway was down to seven riders and Vermeulen was the one dishing out the pain. The young American was leading the charge and doing the most work in the breakaway.
Norway had sent a few riders to the front of the peloton to assist in bringing back the breakaway. Belgium also had a rider helping and at the end of the seventh lap, the gap was hovering around three minutes.
The powerhouse Dutch team came to the fore on the next lap and proceeded to ratchet up the pace, albeit eliminating the breakaway.
On Salmon Hill, the Belgian team drove the pace with the Poles lurking behind. The course in Bergen was well suited to the abilities of former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski.
Smit attacked out of the breakaway, but the writing was on the wall. By the end of the lap with less than 80km to go, the race was all back together.
Julien Vermote, who had been doing a hefty amount of pacemaking for the Belgian led the peloton out of the tunnel at the beginning of the next lap, but slide out on the 180-degree just after the exit of the tunnel. He had been leading the peloton.
Another go up Salmon Hill and attacks flew out of the peloton. Over the top of the climb, a select group of eight had formed. It included Alessandro de Marchi (Italy), David de la Cruz (Spain), Marco Haller (Denmark), Lars Boom (Netherlands), Tim Wellens (Belgium), Jarlison Pantano (Colombia), Jack Haig (Australia), and Christian Elking (Norway).
With three laps to go the lead eight riders held a 45-second lead over the peloton. Poland had taken charge in bringing back the group.
A crash took out the Sebastien Henao (Colombia) and Gianni Moscon (Italy). Henao would abandon the race, but Moscon would rejoin the peloton. The silver medal winner in the individual time trial on Wednesday, Primoz Roglic (Slovenia), also went down.
American Tejay van Garderen crashed hard at the beginning of the penultimate lap.
Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) attacked just before Salmon Hill and that immediately sent alarm bells ringing throughout the peloton. His move was quickly shut down.
On the penultimate time up Salmon Hill, de Marchi attacked the breakaway as the peloton came charging up from behind. The peloton had been greatly reduced to the strongmen of the race. Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) tried a move, but many riders immediately marked that.
With 25km to go the race was all together, but riders continued to attack.
The Dutch, Belgians, and Australians fought for supremacy at the front of the peloton as the final lap began.
Tony Gallopin (France) took a flyer leading into Salmon Hill for the final time, as a crash in the peloton disrupted things a little.
Fireworks exploded the final time up Salmon Hill as Julian Alaphilippe (France) attacked hard. He went over the top alone and was soon joined by Gianni Moscon (Italy). Sagan was seen in a large group behind the leaders.
Alaphilippe dropped Moscon on the short cobbled section with 4km to go and set-off alone in pursuit of the rainbow bands.
It was not to be for the Frenchman, as the group was all together under the flamme rouge. The sprinters were queuing up behind Alberto Bettiol (Italy), who led the peloton into the finishing straight. Kristoff sat second wheel behind Bettiol with Sagan right behind.
Kristoff kicked-off the sprint on the right side of the road and Sagan immediately followed. The Slovakian came around the Norwegian in the final 100 meters, but Kristoff didn’t back down and the two lunged their bikes across the line. Neither raised their hands in celebration.
After a few tense moments, Sagan was named champion of the world for the third time. It was disappointment for Kristoff, who came so close to winning on home roads. Matthews was the best of the rest, albeit a few bike lengths behind. Matteo Trentin (Italy), who won multiple stages at the Vuelta a Espana prior to the world championships, finished fourth.
The top American on the day was Alex Howes in 53rd place, 2:32 behind the winner.
Full results to come
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