Peter Sagan (Slovakia) won the 2017 world road championship over Alexander Kristoff (Norway) and Michael Matthews (Australia).

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.

Top 10

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.