Peter Sagan struggled to comprehend his achievement after winning a third consecutive World Championship road race title, dedicating his victory to the late Michele Scarponi.
The Slovakian became the first male rider to win three World titles in a row and matched the record of three victories held by four other cyclists. He narrowly edged out Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) who was racing on home soil.
“In the end, it came to a sprint and it was unbelievable,” Sagan said.
“Kristoff is racing at home, and I’m sorry for that, but I’m happy to win again. It’s unbelievable for me. It’s something special for sure. It doesn’t change anything, but for me it’s something very nice.”
The third title came after 267.5km around Bergen, Norway. On Salmon Hill, several riders including Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe and Italian Gianni Moscon tried to break up the race.
“It is not easy. In the last kilometres, 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,” Sagan continued.
“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 team-mates and some friends in the group.”
In April, a truck driver struck and killed Astana rider Michele Scarponi while he trained on home roads in Italy to prepare for the Giro d’Italia.
“I want to dedicate this victory or this third World Championship 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.”