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 Magnus Cort Nielsen 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.
Moment #1: Sagan sneaks up the road
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.
Moment #2: Gaviria goes again
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 Cort Nielsen. 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.