Peter Sa­gan beats out Mark Cavendish to re­tain road worlds ti­tle

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Slo­vakia’s Peter Sa­gan mounted a suc­cess­ful de­fence of his men’s elite Road World Cham­pi­onship, win­ning the ti­tle for the sec­ond straight year yes­ter­day af­ter beat­ing out fierce ri­val and 2011 cham­pion Mark Cavendish.

Win­ner a year ago in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, the 26-year-old Sa­gan saved his best for last, a mag­nif­i­cent thrust help­ing him over­take strong ti­tle con­tenders Cavendish of Bri­tain and Tom Boo­nen over the last few me­tres of the 257.5km race.

Bel­gium’s Boo­nen fin­ished third, while Aus­tralian Michael Matthews, sec­ond last year, was fourth.

A de­lighted Sa­gan said in a post-race tele­vi­sion in­ter­view: “I don’t be­lieve it. I’m still in shock.

“I was very happy be­cause there was cross wind and I was the last one to make the first group. In the end it was a sprint. There was a bit of a head­wind, so I felt I needed to come from the back.”

With the vic­tory, Sa­gan be­came the first back-to-back cham­pion of the race since Ital­ian Paolo Bet­tini, who won in 2006 and 2007. He also be­came one of only eight rid­ers in the his­tory of the cham­pi­onship to win the ti­tle twice. Ital­ian Al­fredo Binda, Bel­gium’s Rik van Steen­ber­gen, Spain’s Os­car Freire and Bel­gian le­gend Eddy Mer­ckx won it three times.

In the clos­ing stretch of the race, Cavendish ap­peared to briefly get caught be­hind Matthews, and that was enough for Sa­gan to make his move and reach the fin­ish­ing line ahead of oth­ers.

“I am just dis­ap­pointed I messed up tac­ti­cally,” Cavendish said. “The hard thing was los­ing (Luke) Rowe to a punc­ture, which would have given us three in the front and he would have been valu­able at the end. I am just go­ing to have to set­tle for an­other sec­ond this year.”

It is the first time in the 89-year his­tory of the event that the Road World Cham­pi­onships have been held in the Mid­dle East.

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