It was the finale of the 2017 UCI World Championships in Bergen and one of the most exciting – and mysterious – of the week. After remaining hidden for 267km, it was Peter Sagan taking the rainbow stripes for the third consecutive year with a bike throw in a photofinish with home favourite Alexander Kristoff. It was Michael Matthews, who was second in 2015, who took bronze. I suspect he’s wondering what the entire peloton is wondering: ‘Is there no way to beat Sagan if he sets his mind to the win?’
Rider of the Race
You’d be forgiven if you thought that rider of the race would have been won by a late move after the cameras went down, but you would be wrong. My rider of the race was the Frenchman who lit up the last 10km and who must have been tasting the rainbow until he was overcome by the peloton. That rider would be Julian Alaphilippe.
Alaphilippe has been on the wrong side of a Peter Sagan move before, most famously in that photofinish from Milan-SanRemo where he came third to Michal Kwiatkoswki and Sagan. But Alaphilippe has been one of the most solid riders on an amazing Quick-Step team this year and has worn his hunger for victory on his sleeve in every race he’s ridden. And all the qualities that make him such an amazing young rider were on display in those final 10km. Gritting his teeth, Alaphilippe flew out of the peloton, followed by Italian rider Gianni Moscon. (More on him later.)Embed from Getty Images
After half-hearted help from the Italian rider, Alaphilippe decided not to mess around and left him in his wheel tracks to go it alone. And that’s where we were left! It seemed the links from the moto cameras to the control room were knocked out, giving viewers what was quite honestly some of the most intensely exciting moments of the season. Where was he? Had he been caught by Vasil Kiryienka (who last we knew was in full robotic time trial mode and closing fast)? Was he going to round the bend on his own? The Guardian live blogging of the race captures this particular segment incredibly well:
With every car and moto that came into view, it was excruciating as we looked for that lone navy-blue clad rider! Yet, holy cow, the whole peloton rounded the bend – it was a bunch sprint and history was written as Peter Sagan took his third consecutive championship, the first male rider ever to accomplish that particular feat. Alaphilippe ended the race with a 10th place.
Just like Richmond, you didn’t see him or hear about him for the entire race and then he made his move and won the whole thing. Peter Sagan, we salute you – and all your different hairstyles …Embed from Getty Images
You’re outta here
Gianni Moscon. After his racial abuse of Kevin Reza at the Tour of Romandie this year, this guy has been on my shit list, so I was nearly apoplectic when he followed Alaphilippe and then decided not to work with him. Come to find out, Moscon had in fact held onto the team car in a Nibali-esque type move earlier in the race to get back into any kind of position. So the UCI disqualified him from the results. I just wonder what would have happened if he’d been in a podium position …
Bergen, you’re beautiful!
The crowds, the scenery … one of the best Worlds in a long time. Bergen, you’re beautiful. Can’t wait to see you for myself.Embed from Getty Images
1 Peter Sagan (Slovakia) 6:28:11
2 Alexander Kristoff (Norway) same time
3 Michael Matthews (Australia) s/t
4 Matteo Trentin (Italy) s/t
5 Ben Swift (Great Britain) s/t
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) s/t
7 Michael Albasini (Switzerland) s/t
8 Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) s/t
9 Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan) s/t
10 Julian Alaphilippe (France)
Header picture: Final podium: Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews ©GETTY/Corbis Sport/KT