Sagan wins historic third straight world title

AFP
Sagan emerged out of the final corner in the perfect position on Kristoff's shoulder and just had enough to edge past the home favorite as Australia's Michael Matthews took third.
AFP
Reuters

Peter Sagan (center) of Slovakia crosses the finish line just ahead Norway's Alexander Kristoff in the men's elite road race at the UCI road world championship in Bergen, Norway, on September 24, 2017.

Slovakia's Peter Sagan pipped Norway's Alexander Kristoff in a photo-finish to win a historic third straight world title in Bergen on Sunday.

Sagan emerged out of the final corner in the perfect position on Kristoff's shoulder and just had enough to edge past the home favorite as Australia's Michael Matthews took third.

After his win, Sagan dedicated his victory to Italian Michele Scarponi, who died in April following a crash with a van near his home in Italy — he would have turned 38 on Monday.

"I want to dedicate this third world title first to Michele Scarponi because he has his birthday tomorrow. I'm very sorry this year, I want to wish luck to his family.

"And secondly I want to dedicate this victory to my wife, she's expecting a baby.

"It's a very nice finish to this season, I'm very happy."

Sagan had revealed on Saturday that his preparation for the race had been disrupted by "sickness" and that he wasn't at his best.

He had hardly been seen throughout the 267.5-kilometer race but was part of the small group that made it to the final kilometer to contest the sprint finish.

And in winning he joined a select group of riders, including Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, as three-time world champions, and the first to do so in successive years.

"It's something special, for sure it doesn't change anything, but for me it's something very nice," he added.

Despite the length of the race it was only in the final 15km that a significant break was made that threatened to go all the way to the line.

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe attacked on the final ascent of Salmon Hill, the one climb on the 19km street circuit the peloton tackled 12 times.

Only Italian Gianni Moscon could follow him but was then dropped with 4.5km left.

Alaphilippe couldn't hold on, though, and coming into the final few bends a select group was there to fight for victory.

Only now did Sagan make his move and Kristoff didn't have the strength to hold him off.

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