Richmond - Slovakia's Peter Sagan charged
ahead over the final climbs and hung on at the finish to win Sunday's men's
road race at the World Road Cycling Championships.
The 25-year-old completed the 261.4km course in 6hrs 14mins 37secs to defeat Australian Michael Matthews
by three seconds with Lithuania's Ramunas Navardauskas third, also in 6:14:37.
"I think it's the biggest
victory," Sagan said. "I'm very happy. It's unbelievable for me. I'm
very happy for this."
Sagan, who won this year's Tour of
California, and the points competition at the Tour de France, was considered a
favourite because his skill on short, steep climbs with sprint speed fit
perfectly with the Richmond city street course.
"There was big motivation for me to
win," Sagan said.
On a cool day when predicted rain barely
fell, Sagan was barely mentioned among those at the front until it mattered
"I did just one attack," Sagan
said. "But I think it was the right attack."
Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski, the 2014
winner, was among seven riders who surged ahead with 32km remaining, joined by
Belgian Tom Boonen, Italy's Elia Viviani, Dutchman Bauke Mollema, Britain's Ian
Stannard, Spain's Daniel Moreno and Costa Rica's Andrey Amador in the
Germany, Australia and US riders tried to
pull the peloton forward, but teammates of the leaders slowed the pack and
rivals struggled to respond.
With 16km remaining, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin
and Portugal's Nelson Oliveira led surges but both were swallowed by the
American Tyler Farrar and Kanstantsin
Siutsou of Belarus tried again with 10km remaining but an Italian-led peloton
chased them down just before the narrow, winding Libby Hill cobblestone climb,
where a French attack failed.
Sagan and Belgian Greg Van Avermaet charged
up the final cobblestone climb at 23rd Street and from there Sagan surged to
the front and kept the lead to the finish line.
"It was very strange," he said.
"I was waiting, waiting. I was a little bit also in the crazy. Everybody
had to be tired.
"I gave all the energy I had. I was
hoping for the last cobblestone line and from there it was just gas it to the
Sagan tossed his helmet into the crowd in
the euphoric moments after his victory.
Matthews charged but came up just short in
trying to become the first Aussie to win the road race since Cadel Evans in
Aussie team-mate Simon Gerrans, second last
year, finished sixth.
Kwiatkowski, who before the race announced
a jump from Etixx Quick Step to Team Sky for next season, finished eighth. Not
since Italy's Paolo Bettini in 2007 has a rider repeated as world road race
Norway's Alexander Kristoff, who has 20
wins this year and took a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics road race,