Sagan Does It Again!
World Championships: Sagan beats Cavendish to defend elite men’s world title in Doha
In a close sprint, Sagan and Cavendish both picked different lines with the British rider held up behind Michael Matthews (Australia) as Sagan went from the opposite side and picking a clearer line.
“I don’t believe it. I’m still in shock,” Sagan said. “I’m very happy because there was a crosswind and I was the last one to make the first group. In the end, it was a sprint so we should see.
“There was a bit of a headwind so I felt I needed to come from the back. I felt I was lucky because [Giacomo] Nizzolo didn’t close me out. If he closed me out for sure we would have crashed because I wasn’t going to brake. We should have crashed but I’m happy. It’s unbelievable.”
The race was dominated by one sector of crosswinds in the desert with Belgium putting the hammer down. They split the race to pieces, eliminating several riders including Marcel Kittel, Caleb Ewan, Nacer Bouhanni, and Andre Greipel. From there the Belgians combined with Italy, Norway and a handful of the remaining sprinters with a 30-strong group holding their advantage all the way to the finish.
On the finish circuits around the Pearl, only Niki Terpstra and his teammate Tom Leezer (Netherlands) made late attacks before Belgium once more controlled the race with a sprint set to decide the rainbow jersey.
Cavendish and Sagan marked each other carefully but when Sagan went right, up against the barriers and through a small gap left by Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy), Cavendish went left. He was forced to stop pedalling with 150 metres to go, as he came through Matthews’ slipstream, while Sagan was met with fresh air and a clean rainbow jersey.
Despite a week devoid of truly exciting racing the World Championships ended with an impressive podium, with three former world champions – and a current one – taking the medals.