The Moment The Race Was Won – The Worlds

Richmond, city of tobacco and the home of the Lucky Strike brand. What better place for Peter Sagan to strike once? The Slovakian launched his attack on 23rd Street, flying past Greg Van Avermaet who’d had the same idea, only slower, and then using the twisting descent to extend his lead. This was the moment the race was won.

The early break went with the usual random mix and no obvious team pattern. Virginia’s own Ben King was in the mix. Behind the orange jerseys of the Netherlands led the chase, at times it looked as if they thought there were 30km to go rather than 230km. The breakaway never got a big lead and the Dutch, notably Jos van Emden, toiled for 100km. Did the oranje need to work so hard? Maybe not but they and other teams tried to impose a strategy on the race. With 130km to go we saw Germany start to take over and the next lap the Belgians hit the front on the climbs with Poland visible too.

Anyone watching the race from start to finish might question why they were viewing for so long but the distance matters, on a course without fierce difficulties the steady accumulation of fatigue is needed to tease apart the riders, to turn a molehill into a hors catégorie mountain. But if the race was long, so was the action as we got to see a series of moves that livened up the race. Kanstantin Siutsou, Guillaume Boivin, Jarlinson Pantano and Taylor Phinney: they were never going to win but they can roll and forced other teams to chase.

With four laps to go there was a big crash at the feedzone with many hitting the ground, notably Alexander Kristoff, but all were up and riding soon. Later Michał Kwiatkowski, Bauke Mollema, Tom Boonen, Andrey Amador, Michał Kwiatkowski, Ian Stannard, Dani Moreno and Elia Viviani went clear, a heavyweight move. Boonen looked forceful, Kwiatkowski was floating while Moreno looked the odd one out but was representing Spain. Germany and Australia were left to chase.

Sanremo Flashback: Peter Sagan was among the strongest in Milan-Sanremo last March. It showed. He was tracking moves and showboating on the descent of the Poggio. The result? He was too obvious, predictable rather than audacious. If cycling is wheeled poker, he was showing his hand to everyone. His moves were closed down. To declare Sagan lost this race is too strong but his tactics certainly reduced his chances. It’s one example from many occasions when Sagan simply looked too strong, too obvious, take Stage 16 of the Tour de France as another when Ruben Plaza rode away as the others marked the Slovak.

Back to Richmond 2015 and a reduced peloton reeled in a late exhibition move by Kanstantin Siutsou and Tyler Farrar. Over 250km of racing and it was going to come down to the three climbs on the last lap. Many riders had shown a leg and smile but plenty had kept their faces hidden in the peloton, their names not even mentioned on TV nor race radio.

Up Libby Hill and Zdeněk Štybar attacked with John Degenkolb on his wheel. For a moment the pair had a gap but Philippe Gilbert closed them down and everything regrouped, but only among those who’d been strong up the first climb.

Onto 23rd street and Greg Van Avermaet launched a big attack as soon as he came out of the corner. For a moment it looked promising but as they hit the cobbles and the gradient pitched up Peter Sagan came flying past. Van Avermaet tried to follow but his body language needed no subtitles, his shoulders were rocking and his head was dipping while Sagan looked more forceful. Over the top of the rise there was only a few metres between them but a gulf in body language as Sagan powered away.

Sagan could have sat tight for the sprint but this was – we’re in Richmond after all – a “liberty or death” move with no calculations or hesitations. He quickly turned the descent to his advantage, sitting on the top tube and pedalling to pull out an advantage. Now the time gap was growing, six seconds became nine and then more. Behind the others were hesitating, expecting someone else to chase. Sagan even unclipped his foot from the pedals by accident on the final climb up Governor Street but he was clear of the others and took the solo win.

The Verdict
The course was just selective enough after 260km, the crowds great and the result uncertain until the last moment. If the winning move was launched late in the race it came after an action-packed final hour and delivered a champion winner, a big name with big charisma despite riding for a small team today with his brother Juraj on tap and maybe, just maybe, some Tinkoff-Saxo colleagues.

Sagan’s post-race interview briefly sounded like a confused address to the United Nations with talk that “the population must change“. But it was Sagan who’s changed first, landing the big win he’s been promising with a committed attack. 2015 has been a troublesome season when measured against the high expectations set by his employer and his pay packet. This has meant a season so far defined by his losses, despite a stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico, winning the Tour of California and taking the points competition and beaucoup airtime in the Tour de France before a stage win in the Vuelta. Still 25, it’s not his first rainbow jersey either as he was junior MTB champion in 2008.

Michael Matthews was second and probably could not ask for more after a clever ride. Ramūnas Navardauskas was third and the Lithuanian has delivered some strong finishes before, he’s not a sprinter but has power on tap in a hard finish, today only shows what he’s capable of.

The only let down this week was the TV production. Basic errors like the lack of an on-screen time gap made it hard to know what was happening, whenever the information appeared on screen it felt like a treat rather than a requirement. There were ten minute periods without a time gap between the bunch and the break. Bad? It’s deliberate as this has happened in previous editions of the Worlds and the Olympics under the UCI’s production. The camera crew need a debrief too, they often dwelt on a narrow view, for example when Sagan attacked we saw him riding hard but had no sense if he was going clear on the descent until the camera belatedly panned to the chasers; the helicopter kept showing the rooftops of Richmond instead of the race. This needs fixing before Rio.

181 thoughts on “The Moment The Race Was Won – The Worlds”

    • I really enjoyed the race too. The course was a good one, the three climbs at the end of the lap meant that the tension and excitement kept ratcheting up.

      Worthy winner too, I think this goes into the box of era-defining champions.

          • I’m a big follower of him since juvenile ranks and so, hence I’m quite sure he’ll be era-defining and in a sense he already is, indeed (his character, the expectations and all the second places…), but I feel that ‘top’ winners of the Worlds must end up delivering a lot, not just being notable. Savoldelli was without doubts *the* era-defining descender, but I’m not very sure I’d have seen him as a ‘top level’ World Champion (despite the couple of Giros he won) 🙂
            I was quite sure Freire would, back in 1999, and I think Sagan will.
            (note that I’m quite turning up my nose about Cipo and Cav, too, even if I can eventually end up accepting that: both era-defining enough but in a very limited field, bunch sprints, both winning on too much of a tailor-made course).

  1. A worthy champion, and looks popular in the peloton as well, judging by the action by the finish line. Although I would potentially say that Sagan won the race when GvA and EBH started marking each other , rather than chase

    • Agreed. I think there will be universal acclaim amongst riders, pundits and fans that there is a worthy World Champion and a class performer.
      I think it’s a great result for the sport.
      If he can continue to show that level of maturity there could be no stopping him.

      Obviously agree with Inner Ring’s comments too.
      I have enjoyed the week, good crowds, and a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing parcours ; that final 4km of the lap was the real sting in the tail and brought a nuance to the course. The profile didn’t look much on the graphics but the reality was very different.
      Poor television direction but at least the British commentary on the BBC was good.
      It will be great to see Sagan in the rainbow jersey next year.

    • Sagan was putting time in even as they were working together mostly, even if they got up to him, who do you think would have won anyway? The race was won with that attack up the climb and some incredible bike handling, no doubt about it. 10/10 performance and worthy of the stripes.

    • Seems that EBH at least was working for Kristoff and was told to mark and not work. Obviously a mistake in hindsight, but it was impressive how fast Sagan pulled out a real advantage on the descent. I thought it would come to a sprint because the climb didn’t seem long enough to create significant gaps with the long drag to the line. Maybe EBH thought the same and then didn’t change the plan when Sagan pulled away on the descent. I was watching his antics with GvA and thinking that this is the last chance for anyone to get to Sagan.

    • Actually I don’t think that they were marking each other… VanAvermat was going full gas and simply ran out of gas… didn’t have the legs to fill the gap by himself and EBH just barely had the legs to hold VanAvermat’s wheel so when GVA sat up and asked EBH for help he did what he could… but it wasn’t going to be enough… think it basically came down to legs… those two were never going to bring him back.

      I think what may have saved Sagan was the decision by Australia to basically have two teams… they had half the team supporting Gerrans and half supporting Mathews… what would have happened if Gerrans has lead out Mathews and tried a concerted effort to bring Sagan back… it might of ended differently for Sagan.. but who knows…

  2. Love it that Sagan won! Second on getting the coverage fixed before Rio. I can’t wait for the next race so vino won’t be the olympic champion anymore.

  3. Sagan only needed one chance and he made the most of it, measured never extended.

    Nice to see a couple of Americans in the top 20, as well as stars and strips on the front of a couple of breaks for an extended periods of time.

  4. Matthews not totally happy with the team tactics, he feels that even if they indeed started the race with Gerrans as a second, equal leader (something he accepts while acknowledging it wasn’t the best possible situation), it might have been appropriate to receive some help from his teammate in the closing kms – previous deal was about double leadership, but Gerro not working for Matthews in the finale left the latter pretty disappointed.

    Kristoff supports team tactics (EBH not working with GVA), but he’s hinting at the *possibility* that a smarter behaviour from his teammate would have possibly helped more the team as a whole, including the same Kristoff’s chances: working with GVA just as long as it was necessary to get Sagan caught, then sit on the wheels and watch as the two would start to decide who was going to be 2nd and who was going to be 4th. EBH sticked to the pre-ordered plan in a slightly dull way – maybe he was too afraid to look like he was betraying team orders, since he’s been promised he’ll be captain in Bergen (does anyone really believ that?). Or, he just couldn’t read the race.

  5. Ja, there seemed to be only two shots available: a helicopter shot down on the peloton, often obscured by trees and overpasses, and a motorcycle shot at close range. It was very noticeable, and later in the race, fairly tedious. (Libby hill was covered well, though, I thought.)

    • Yet we were often left in the dark about what happened on the front of the race just after the climb, as important as the ramp (or more). Fine to show even the back of the bunch passing by on the top, for some laps, but in the finale of the race it became frustrating. Seconds matter in cycling – and the sport is not just a procession of colourful jerseys.
      However fixed camera were ok, indeed, but there was a general lack of skill by the production concerning the decisions about the *right* shot, and I’d have liked a better “editing”, too, alternating rapidly enough various shots to make the race more intelligible (without becoming confuse).
      This TV thing is serious, and worrying enough when you’re riding *a circuit*… the same one, several time in the week, that is, with a good deal of more or less voluntary occasions for reharsal (and correction).

    • It seemed to me that the TV production was a little hampered by the parcours. The last 5km of each lap was where all the hills were located and thus where all the action was happening. However the fast descents and tight turns through the city streets that were interspersed between the climbs meant that the camera motos were obviously keen (and probably briefed as such) not to get too close to the action. As soon as the riders were past these sections, invariably they’d cut back to a moto camera and you’d be able to see what was actually happening! It didn’t help that these sections were full of tall buildings, so the other fixed camera positions and helicopter camera, could rarely get a good angle on the action. It was a bit frustrating at times, but overall I’d give them a 7/10.

      The lack of on-screen time gaps etc is less forgivable, that’s just a failure in basic race production, especially seeing as the bikes all seemed to have GPS transponders under the saddle again. Is this technology simply not ready or available for TV productions? It seemed to work better in the Women’s race, but still not great, identifying incorrect riders in the breaks etc.

      After what happened to Sagan in the Vuelta it’s definitely a good thing for him that the motos stayed well out of the way!

      • I was there at the top of Libby and Adam you nailed it. Moto’s hustled out of the way before the descents and I actually thought at the time they must have been given extra warning to stay away given all the accidents this year.

  6. All this talk of the TV production quality makes me jealous that you were able to see it. The live stream in the US was was less reliable than the typical pirate feed for European races. That said, I look forward to seeing the rainbow jersey getting more airtime next year than we usually see.

  7. I truly enjoyed watching Sagan stretch his lead on that decent. That may be where he actually won the race, as he crested 23rd Street with only a minimal advantage. Also, I don’t think GvA would have been able to bridge to Sagan, even with EBH’s help. He looked cooked.

    Seems to me that Belgium was the big loser today. A course that suited their team and the best they do is Gilbert in 10th? Biggest mystery: who were Dutch pulling the break back for?

      • I’ve been consistently rooting for McEwen against Cipollini along all their careers (a rider with skills versus a rider with power – to simplify, since the two had plenty of both), but McEwen wouldn’t have been as deserving as an *era-defining* World Champion, once the UCI had had the very depressing idea of organising a sprinters-only Worlds race. The doping argument is, as always, kind of weak, a quick look to the set of teams Robbie rode for isn’t that inspiring, either; however, who knows? Maybe he was clean… he wouldn’t have stand a chance anyway, that day.
        The “McEwan” typo is interesting, Australia’s got indeed a great “Ewan” sprinter coming in 😉

        • Cipo is a legend for sure, but still, none of his individual wins stands out as much as McEwen’s win in the first road stage of the 2007 TDF. I see what you mean about skill v power, like Sagan today, McEwen often had to “freelance” his sprint wins rather than relying on a big lead out train.

          Fantastic debut season for Ewan, interesting that the only stage in the Vuelta where he wasn’t dropped before the finish was the one he won, but for a 20 year old simply stunning.

    • In hindsight perhaps, but with the World’s being what they are and the weather forecast supposedly showing rain for the closing stages of the race, it’s easy to see why some riders were willing to take a punt in the last 50km. If you can get 30 secs to 1 min advantage and hope from a crash or mass-disorganisation in the chase from the peloton, then you’ve got a chance.

      The reality is that when the race is on full-gas inside the final 25 km, most riders would struggle to even make it up to the front of the peloton, let alone launch an attack off the front. The likes of Ian Stannard just don’t have the punch to go clear in a situation like that, so a long-range attack is his best bet.

      Admittedly going clear with 200km-to-go is a bit more fanciful!

  8. Very happy with this result. Every year for the past four years pundits have been saying that Sagan is due to land a big one. With respect to Gent-Wevelgem and E3 Harelbeke this is finally the one he has been promising. An exciting rider with mad bike-handling skills and a real character. Look forward to seeing him ride in the rainbow stripes!

    • I hope he bucks the suppsoed “curse” and has a successful year in the stripes. Though if he does on the Grand Tours, we won’t get to see the stripes if he’s in a jersey. Still, the rest of the time it’ll be a far better sight than this year’s Tinkoff eyesore.

    • I can’t see much changing for him in terms of tactics – his wheel is always the one to follow regardless of whether he’s wearing the rainbow stripes or not. If anything it may take the monkey off the back and give him more confidence.

  9. Nice description of the race.

    Sagan was awesome.

    In re-watching the last 4k – Feel bad for GA – it looked like he was getting closer – If BH would have worked with him they might have medaled (probably not won).

    The footage wasn’t great but it looked like Uran did a massive attack – or was this a trade team pull as he surely knew there was no way of holding all the closers for 700m from the top of the hill to the finish?

    Sagan is a good guy – a few of the locals here really enjoyed doing (partial) training rides with him – during his pre-worlds training this month as well as in June. Apparently Park City, Utah is good a place to stay and train at altitude – for more than snow sports medals, MTB and the Vuelta.

    Finally from a monetization point of view – circuit laps in a city – are better for spectators – you can sell tickets in desirable sections and VIP booths. For a future thread – should the UCI encourage/allow demanding circuits?

    The final laps of the race were very rewarding as a fan!

    • No, they should not sell tickets – keep cycling free. The Ronde is considerably less interesting because of this kind of move.
      And, generally, circuits are less good to watch – on TV – than other races. Of course, it’s different if it’s a 35km circuit, etc.

  10. Tot adress Shawn,
    The Dutch were working for Terpstra. At the start of the last lap it looked like Dumoulin got loose. Then Terpstra attacked after libby hill but his move got covered. Terpstra started the second hill in 3th but he did not have the power and lost a lot of position. Terpstra and Dumoulin finished in the same group as Matthews at 11 and 13.

    • Haha, this was my first thought!

      Do the team kit designers have any input into the design of the WC jersey as they do with the national champs? If so, I’m sure they will manage to ruin it somehow.

      • Cannondale jersey looks good on Sagan. Green suits him. It’s the Tinkov jersey that’s problematic. I’m not sure whether to blame the designer or the boss. It maybe the case that the designers were doing a very admirable job making Tinkoff’s crazy ideas look pelatable.

        That said, please do a black shorts Sagan, not that ugly blue this year.

        • I really am the only one who likes Sagan’s jersey then? I like a busy jersey – like Androni.
          Black shorts should be mandatory with the stripes – and any classification jersey. They just look dreadful otherwise.
          (Yes, wool caps, inner tubes over shoulder, etc., etc.)

  11. About the Dutch presumably performing Pierre Rolland-like waste of energy moves all day: Tom Dumoulin actually came pretty close at winning a medal, he and Gilbert broke loose in the Final K, only to be run over by the sprinters in the last fifty meters or so. Thanks to the brilliant tv-registration we haven’t seen any of this, but Tom tweeted about it.

    • They rode well but did they need to ride so hard so early? It’s not a criticism, more a question as to whether other teams would have chased. As you say the TV direction was poor and ignored a lot of the chase and the fight for second place.

      • I was there watching the Dutch drive the pace while Germans, Belgians, Aussies, and other top favorites sat in. For hours. The early break could have been given more leash. That said, it wasn’t really the Dutch as it was Jos (as noted in the summary), so maybe burning one guy to impose some discipline on the race was worth it for them.

        Otherwise, as shown by the other races (women, U23), the course had a wonderful finale: it gave hope to all sorts of riders from big sprinters to classics stars to (less so) GC men. I wasn’t surprised to see Sagan’s power over the top of 23rd and daring speed around the sweeping final corners make the difference. It was a strategy there for the taking. But executing it is entirely different and watching them try made for exciting races.

        Lastly, Cookson and I were at the airport Monday flying out at the same time. I congratulated him on good races. He seemed in high spirits and pleased with the week.

  12. Saga was an extremely worthy and popular winner.

    Comments about the TV coverage are very true. Even though I was watching a pirate feed, the visual coverage between ‘freezes’ was terrible, even with CK muted ! With such a prestigious event, that the organizers, the UCI in this instance, could not manage to produce something a little more visually informative and acceptable is to be regretted. The technical experience surely exists in bucket loads.

  13. I watched from start to finish and enjoyed it all! The Dutch did do a lot of work, always seemingly trying to keep the pace high. I suppose they were trying to thin it out for Terpstra but the course wasn’t quite hard enough. It was good to see a group of big hitters go clear with still a fair bit to go, I was willing Boonen on. Sagan was by far the strongest in the end and is a thoroughly deserving world champion, I really warmed to him during the Tour this year. Maybe now the floodgates will open and he’ll be unbeatable in the classics. Interesting that it appears Gilbert worked for GVA again, and again GVA brings home nothing. He seems popular with team mates, bosses and the Belgian media but delivers very little. He must be a nice guy but not a very top level rider.

    The course this year was excellent and all the races I saw delivered exciting finishes. The TV production was awful though. Loads of time as you saw the camera angles were all wrong so you got to see the break but with no perspective of how big a gap they had. This was most annoying for me on the last lap when the camera was zoomed right in on Tyler Farrar. I really wanted to see the group to see the gap and if anybody else was launching off the front. It was as if they just wanted to show Farrar to get US fans excited that a yank was in the lead on the last lap.

    • Uhhhh… what? GVA not a very top level rider?! If you get 2nd place a thousand times against all these guys he rides against then you are a VERY top rider.

      • I am by Van Avermaet fan, especially for his offensive attitude, but it’s true he seems a step below others, for example Sagan himself who basically does everything Greg does a little better. Greg performs best as an underdog, not a as favourite or teamleader.

      • My point is/was he doesn’t bring home the bacon in the same way that say Gilbert and Boonen did consistently when they were in their pomp, and I know that’s a pretty harsh comparison. He’s had two years now as leader of BMC and Belgium, Gilbert pretty much just gets the Ardennes and maybe Lombardy. I’d still go with Gilbert as both BMC and Belgium’s leader for all classics, Milan-Sanremo and Flanders included, even though he is not the rider he was because he knows how to win. That’s as important as the physical capacity to take you to the winning position in many ways. He’s a very good rider no doubt, just not top drawer. I can’t see him beating Matthews/Degenkolb/Stybar and those guys who arrive at the end of races with him. That’s only my opinion of course.

      • As far as I am concerned, I am totally in line with Richard S. It seems to me nonsense to have 2 ex world champions and multi monument winners working for a 30 years guy whose best victory is 1 stage in the Tour. GVA has reached a great level and is for sure a great rider, but has never proved he can really win a big race. Gilbert and Boonen are maybe not at their historical best, but they remain competitive, and I don’t think they are the least to GVA.
        BTW, I was very surprised by the Boonen move in the lap before the final one: he looked very strong and in theory was the belgian bet for a sprint. Why did he waste his energy just to make the german guys ride in front of the bunch?

  14. Some other good points people have raised re the TV coverage – I had no idea Dumoulin and Gilbert had launched a chase! And yes the cameras lingering on back markers cresting Libby Hill when we wanted to see whether Stybar had got away.

    Re potential World Tour calendar changes, I would have no objection to the addition of a ‘Richmond GP’.

    • I still haven’t managed to see the race for 2nd – did they not even film that?
      Abysmal coverage and Richard S please tell me you didn’t have to listen to 6+ hours of Carlton Kirby’s inane prattlings, cliches and needless shrieking? (He totally failed to tell us who was on screen – particularly necessary when they’re in unusual kit – and when Matt Stephens did so, CK talked [well, screamed] over him.) I have complained to Eurosport – if you can’t stand him, do so too: maybe we’ll get rid of him.

      • In Carlton’s defence why the hell is one person doing the whole 6 hours. Nobody can remain accurate and eloquent having stared at a screen for 6 hours (that is after all what the Eurosport guys are doing sat in a office somewhere in London).
        If you watch the Grand National in the UK for example there are commentators for each section of the course. I think horse racing is somewhat analogous in terms of commentating in terms of a tight mass of differently coloured moving bodies that can be hard to identify (my wife said as much being forced to watch on Sunday).
        I do accept that Eurosport probably can’t afford to send 4 or 5 commentary teams (for each language as well) to the US to be positioned at key points on the course like the Grand National but at least give Carlton or whoever a rest during the day so they are fresh for the final 30 minutes.

        • But he is awful in every race he does. There have to be better people out there. And there are: Boulting, Rendell, Hatch, Boardman, Millar to name a few. Just train-up Matt Stephens to be a commentator – or the other ex-pro’s they use. Anyone who doesn’t laugh at their own jokes. I keep expecting Sean Kelly to end it all mid-TDF.

      • Haha, yes I did listen to Kirby rattling on for 6 hours. He kept it roughly together for the first 4 hours or so but had lost it by the end. His way over the top screetching has ruined many a finishing sprint thats for sure, Keisse’s win in Turkey a year or two back a prime example. The thing that annoys me most about him though (amongst many many things) is his obvious favouritism of some riders and his lack of understanding of bike racing. For example he was talking up Jens Kuekelere (spelling?) as a potential winner when he’s blatantly in a Belgium team containing Boonen, GVA, Gilbert and van Marcke as a domestique. Also he was getting excited about Greipel being on the front about 3 laps out saying how he was demonstrating his strength. No, he was closing gaps for Degenkolb, anybody working that far out isn’t going to be around at the end.
        The best race for commentary this year was the Giro, which was done by Hatch and Stephens to start with, then Hatch and Kelly. I also rate Declan Quigley highly, mainly because I like how he describes riders ‘hanging out of the biggest gear they can find’! Giro di Lombardia is on this weekend, hopefully that will be Hatch/Quigley and Magnus Backstedt, who they usually roll out for that one and is also very good.

        • Brave.
          I mute him in the last few km – it’s the only way.
          Not a fan of Quigley either – doesn’t seem to know much – but nowhere near the strength of feeling I have developed towards CK.

  15. Enjoyable race and great winner (and that scene at the finish when Boonen greeted him – fantastic).

    One thing though – if Sagan has suffered in the past from being a marked man, things are not going to get any easier next year when he’s in the rainbow bands! He needs to hope for a lot of rain so he can cover them up with a rain jacket as often as possible…

  16. I am very happy Sagan won (nice Czech-Slovak cooperation, too, with Kreuziger’s massive turn, and that Degenkolb-neutralizing Stybar attack, with Germany being the big losers yesterday), but it could have been a mass sprint again. The UCI should really ensure circuits where a Cipollini or a Cavendish (pure sprinters who cannot win alone without a whole team devoted to blocking the race) cannot ever win. More elevation, and more distance. Yesterday’s race, for instance, would have seriously benefitted from an extra lap.

    • I agree with your comment on worlds’ circuits. But just wait next year for the Doha’s route!!!!
      More than distance, I think Richmond’s circuit would have been better with one or 2 extra climbs, the city part was quite boring. It terms of “toughness”, I think it was just the lowest level “admissible”. Less than that (as it will probably be the case next year or as it was Copenhague or Zolder) would really be too easy.

    • While I understand the reasoning – the world’s should be a tough race won by tough riders – I don’t really have an issue with an occasional sprinter friendly course for the worlds, why don’t they deserve the occasional chance to wear the rainbow bands? Equally, when you’re 200km+ into a race, even flat/flattish circuits can take their toll. Not everyone’s going to be able to sprint at full gas at the end of that distance, especially if a team/several teams have been drilling it on the front. Definitely not every year but every decade or so, why not? Sprinting’s a road racing discipline as well as any other.

      • The same reason why Thibaut Pinot or Quintana will never be world champions should apply to guys like Cavendish or Kittel. Pure sprinting does not make a World Champion (just like pure climbing). Besides, it also makes races depressingly controlled and boring.

        • World championships 1995 in Duitama, Colombia, contested by the best climber of the era, the best chronoman of the era and a couple of one day specialists.
          What I’m saying it can be done so that Quintanas of this world have a shot, with all the other usual suspects off course.

        • I’d give the climbers and sprinters a go every decade or so – it shouldn’t just be about the classics guys. A bit of variety is good – although I won’t be saying that next year, I’m sure.

          • +1 J Evans.
            This was a great race and a great winner who probably matches what we image to be a world champion (tough classics type etc) but I see no reason why pure sprinters and climbers shouldn’t get a go every now and then.

      • Simply because the rider who wins the WC race is the world champion for one year wearing the jersey for the whole following season. Pure sprinters can win so many races throughout the season and they do. So why on earth should one of them wear the jersey signaling that he’s (kind of) the best rider of last season when all he did was crossing a line first after sitting in the slipstream for 6 hours while rarely putting out more watts than you and I do during a base endurance training session.

        Sagan is without a doubt a worthy world champion or probably even THE worthy 2015 world champion but not because of what he did yesterday. Although he did exactly the right thing to win yesterday’s race. But yesterday was only a very short display of his abilities which did not win him many races on really demanding classic courses so far. As some have already written before: If he hadn’t attacked so strongly we would have seen a bunch sprint of a peloton with at least 50 riders. So the course did provide some exciting race final but it’s certainly not a worthy WC course. Or when is the last time a real classic with the exception of Paris-Tours came down to a bunch sprint of that size? Even MSR’s course is more demanding than that. Worlds’ courses should be at least as demanding as Flanders. But as long as the UCI’s main interest (necessity) in the world’s week is raising money the quality of the course will stay a minor factor when choosing host towns.

  17. A good course but why on earth choose the home of Lucky Strike? The TV production/picture was rubbish but those chimneys gave plenty of free publicity to the tobacco company.

    This win will release Sagan next season. He’ll be prepared to lose in the finale, rather than tow others and will net his first Monument.

    • I think he’s been prepared to lose for a while now.

      I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him come into the final few kms of a race and everyone is just sitting on his wheel, waiting for him to chase down every attack. He’s said a few times in interviews that he’s not going to tow everyone else to the line and that other riders are going to have to accept that.

  18. Great review and a worthy champion. But INRNG no comment on the ladies race?! Yes I’m a Brit but in the 21st Century we really should be bringing womens racing into the mainstream media…..and INRNG is mainstream media in the cycling world!

    • Inrng has reiterated on a number of occasions, he is a one man operation writing a free blog with the minimum of sponsorship, and as such can only cover Men’s road racing… no women, no cross, no track, no mtb etc etc etc…

      • I think it’s different for the Worlds though. We can’t say “there’s too much to cover” for ever. The Worlds are the one time we get to see male-female parity, and I think everyone should get behind there being more of that. I understand when it’s totally different races & they’re barely on TV, but the Worlds is different. We wouldn’t be impressed by a male-only Wimbledon blog surely?

        • I’d like to cover more and appreciate others may want more but just because there’s parity for one weekend doesn’t make it so easy. I enjoyed the women’s race like many but feel that to write about it you need to know a lot about the riders, the teams, the national selectors, inter-team rivalries and other private motivations, to know what’s happened to so-and-so during the season and even stories that arc over several seasons and so on. I can get some of this with the men’s pro racing but you’ll find others know plenty more for women’s races, the U23 circuit and more.

          A longer explanation at

  19. Cadel Evans was a different man after his Worlds win in 2009. It was the key to him winning the 2011 TDF. I agree, this will be a great release for Sagan and his first monument should soon follow.

  20. I kind of agree with the TV coverage and the lack of time-gap, but I think it also made it more exciting.

    I couldn’t watch the last 75 kms of the men’s race but watched the women’s race on Saturday night and think that not having the time gap on the screen made it more exciting as you were not sure until the last climb up Libby Hill whether the peloton were going to catch up with the lead group. Personally, at that point of the race, my eyes are almost glued to the corner of the screen where the gaps are shown, and you pretty much know whether the leaders will be caught or not. But on Saturday night, you weren’t too sure until you saw the peloton only a handful of seconds behind the leaders at the start of the last climb on Libby Hill.
    I think it just made the whole thing more exciting as you had no idea what was going on.

  21. “The camera crew need a debrief too, they often dwelt on a narrow view, for example when Sagan attacked we saw him riding hard but had no sense if he was going clear on the descent until the camera belatedly panned to the chasers; the helicopter kept showing the rooftops of Richmond instead of the race. This needs fixing before Rio.”

    Precisely this. That was the remarkable thing about that descent – he was sat on the top tube, I was waiting for a wheel from behind to draw into shot because it locked so tight to Sagan, but then it zoomed out and he was miles further ahead. No clue he’d gained so much time. Not the best coverage.

  22. one question: did you ever hesitate to actually post the “The moment the race was won”-picture showing Sagan flying through the corners and gradually opening up the gap on the downhill?

    While there will alway be good and “lesser good” bikehandlers, the new world champion is one of the very few guys (the only one?) that I can think of that can make up a “noticeable” gap in the downhill..
    TDF2015 Stage16

  23. Amazing race and lots of good performances from most of the likely candidates. The biggest losers have to be Germany, though. Degenkolb back in 29th is a disaster for the joint race favourite who was in p2 on Libby’s hill.

    Due to the poor tv coverage it wasn’t possible to see what happened to him, which is a pity.

    • INRNG doesn’t cover Women’s Cycling, it’s been discussed in a post as to why somewhere on here. Same applies to ‘cross and other kinds of cycle racing, regardless of gender.

      I was slightly surprised at Team Sky not mentioning Armitstead though – seeing as she had Sky on her shoulders due to the Britsh Cycling tie-in and her being engaged to Phil Deignan. Seemed an ideal thing to crow about.

  24. Reading a couple of comments about the great descent – and couple of bends – Peter had (very true), I still very much agree with inrng when deciding what the single decisive moment was: no descending skills would have provided him a sufficient gap if he had a line of riders right on his wheel. The existence of a previous gap, however reduced, allowed him to take advantage of the descent. If anything, the *moment* was probably the short stretch of ‘lighter’ descent right after the top of the climb, when you needed to pedal hard, sort of a second sprint, and he was still able to.

  25. Really enjoyed the racing the course was very selective over those distances, poor selection of course as far as the tech was concerned the viewers were very badly let down, but I guess viewing is secondary to riding / racing .

    When did the techies find out there would be problems i wonder?

    Fantastic results I cannot think of a more worthy winner in recent history and its nice that he shows some humility taking time to consider the less fortunate in his moment of glory, If Sagan was not a global superstar before he is now!


    • To be fair the quality of the images got dramatically better as the races went on. The U23 race, large sections of the course were basically not televised.

  26. So pleased Sagan took the win (two fingers to Oleg Tinkoff) a very popular win. I’m pleased @inrng you have highlighted the terrible TV production (someone should) with Eurosport apologizing all the time for the US production. Very pleased with Lizzie’s win for the ladies on Saturday.

  27. The Coverage problem is not “unintelligent shots”. Its people putting money in their own bags

    Take a race like Gent-Wevelgem. Not even WT. 4 Motocams and perfect signal in terrible weather conditions

    How will you get a race overview with 1 Motocam and a total lack of proper signal amplifers? That wont work anywhere. Even not on a 16km course (where its much easier)

    If they really want they deliver a Tourmalet Stage in very Heavy Fog in Top Quality. That was 5
    years ago

    Give the worlds to the Aso. They know how to to deal with these matters

    From what I heard the race next in Qatar will be totally flat. Absolutely ok for the UCI as long as the bucks come in

  28. With reference to a comment by Nick in the other thread (more or less: “TV coverage has been bad for various sports in the Olympics, especially when compared to usual production, because IOC is taking over”), I must say that, indeed, I share his views.
    Olympics, or the very recent Athletics Worlds look more and more like a sort of visual composition with barely any relation with the sport as a discipline, or even – which is even worse – with the intrinsic narrative of the competition. Sometimes they even look like a collection of ‘moving photos’ rather than ‘a movie’. Something produced by someone who doesn’t understand the sport for someone else who doesn’t understand it, either, without any attempt to close the ‘understanding gap’.

    Nevertheless, IMHO until recent years that wasn’t the case for the Worlds in Cycling, at least – not even by far – to such extent.
    Things were really horrible in Florence and didn’t get better. I suspected some Infront deal was related to that, since I recall the subject being debated by journalists during the Italian Worlds.

    This morning I gave a look around and I found this:
    “The UCI is delighted to have this new and dynamic partner which has significant worldwide sales power” said UCI President Mr Pat McQuaid. “[…] Our aim is to work together to continue to reinforce the development of cycling across the globe and the draw of our sport as a high appeal television product.”
    *High appeal television product*?!? Good ol’ Pat. Throwing the quality in the bin for a roll of bills. What a fresh boost.

  29. Travelled to Richmond to watch the racing and loved the course. With a bike and a lock it was possible to float around the route and see multiple points of action – hills, tight corners, descents. Well done to the city for such a well organised event, I ate and drank like a king and would love to return.

  30. Sagan’s little issue with the pedal happened right in front of us. When we heard he’d jumped on the 23rd street hill we thought he’d gone too soon but his demon descent made the difference. We walked the tough end of the course both Saturday and Sunday and the crowds seemed pretty good. Richmond rented every hotel room they had so we ended up out in the ‘burbs, so they must be happy. I’m happy we went, even before I’ve looked at my photos!

  31. Indeed a super-duper race and worthy champion, winning in style. I was less bothered by the TV issues, but there again I was variously feeding a recalcitrant infant, doing general housework and preparing lunches for the upcoming week, so it wasn’t getting my full attention! I watched/listened on the BBC, and their coverage I thought was excellent. Simon Brotherton, Chris Boardman and Rochelle Gilmore. Simon Brotherton and Rob Hatch are the current gold-standard commentators for me.

    A side point – the podium this year was unusually young, no? I wonder when we last had such a youthful top 3.

    • i think it is the culmination of a general youth movement that has been building momemtum over the past couple years…

      it bodes well for the future… 🙂

  32. Sagan has always been a Marmite character for me. Until this year I’ve found him grating and his riding too formulaic (for him), relying on brute strength and following obvious wheels.

    Yet watching him at the Tour this year, I started to see what many pundits far more knowledgable than me have been saying for years. He’s a potential legend.

    He seemed to learn humility in France; In the Vuelta he looked exciting (until the crash) and finally, at the Worlds, he showed something previously lacking: guile.

    An awesome ride and a worthy winner.

    Chapeau Peter!

  33. Fantastic race to experience as an spectator. I was at the bottom of Governor St for the last two laps, and had no idea what the race situation was in the last lap until I saw Sagan come out of that bottom corner, then GVA and EBH after what seemed like an eternity (I initially thought it was Gilbert and Kristoff – my confusion obviously stemming from seeing it in person). Then the peloton shortly after, charging hard. I screamed at the top of my lungs when I saw my fellow Colombian Urán starting to surge at the bottom of the climb and, for a brief moment, I dreamed about what that could be.

    Overall, it was a worthy winner. I spent most of the weekend watching the races on the second half of the course which, to the organizers’ credit, was super-spectator friendly. As soon as I started seeing all the fast descents and sharp 90-degree turns at the bottom of each one, I kept thinking that this was tailor-made for Sagan, so it was not really surprising to see him emerge alone at the bottom of Governor, despite the seeming lack of support. Chapeau to him.

    • PS: I can’t comment much on the TV broadcast (I’ll watch the race later this week) but the cloudy, mostly overcast day probably didn’t help, as did the technical nature of the latter part of the course. The sound of the squealing tires of just about every motorized vehicle on all the sharp turns pretty much reveal the struggle to keep up with the race

  34. I took the train ride down to Richmond just for the day and the city and race really delivered. It was easy to walk around the course and see the action from different vantage points. We parked it on Libby Hill for the last 4 laps – what a great atmosphere it was. The big screen kept us in touch with the finish and with Peter getting away the place was going wild. I have to say, when you are outside ringing your cowbell with thousands of other fans on a picture-perfect hill watching the world’s best bike riders pour every last watt they have into the finish, you don’t notice the dodgy camera work and lack of time gaps being reported!

  35. finally got a chance to watch the race…

    PURE CLASS!!! i am so happy… seeing peter in the rainbow jersery all year is going to be fun… 🙂

    fun race to watch… lots of action… paid off by a great finish…

    i’m generally not nationalistic, but video feed technology issues aside, i think “we” put on a pretty good show all week and produced worthy winners…

  36. Was at both races on Saturday and all day yesterday. The production on-site was terrible too. On Saturday at the top of Governor’s Hill the big monitor was showing a Virginia tourism commercial and the music I heard while there was…Bee Gees, Thorogood, and some Billy Joel. Yikes, pretty bad.

    Also, I completely disagree with what you wrote about Sagan’s speech at the end. For a 25 year old who has just had the biggest success of his career, I thought it was extremely commendable to point out all the issues in the world and not just talk in cliches or brag about his performance. I presume he was talking about the refugee crisis spilling into Europe. To do that in a non-native language, to use his platform to remind us that sport can do some good, but that it’s just a sport, not life and death, well, I thought that was awesome.

    Also has me wondering if his family maybe was displaced at some point in their history, considering all the population shifts in that part of Europe. Could he have more empathy for the Syrians and Middle Eastern refugees because of this?

    • the interview only made me like him more… to attempt that in a non-native language is rather brave, and very few would even bring it up in their native language…

      he’s a rather big favorite on this side of the pond (not because of that interview)… he’s had great results here, he understands the “entertainment value” of the sport, he has made every attempt to learn to speak english, and he’s great with the fans…

      • certainly if I was in the business of marketing pro cycling I would be totally focused on this talented, handsome, genuine, charismatic guy than some of the pale skinny barely-alive looking types in the GTs…

        • me too…

          he could sell ice cubes to eskimos over here… like jens, us americans (if i may speak for all of us) really really like the guy…

          “genuine” is the key word… peter has no facade… what you see is what he really is*…

          * unless he is one HECKUVA good actor…

    • Similar; While at the USA Pro Challenge (Tour of Colorado), I watched the Time Trial on the last corner. They had a jumbotron screen and I thought there would be race coverage but instead they had Breckenridge town tourism stuff REPEATING OVER AND OVER AND OVER. A HUGE nuisance.

      I get tired of the cliche speeches. Especially when a rider transfers teams; it’s like a copied script; they’re almost all the same.

      Back to how the race was won. Coverage could have been better but what I saw was appreciated; I could see how the race was won.

      *Sagan raced up a notch on every facet and stepped up a notch on the podium step.

  37. Oh, also sucked to have to hear Vaughters interviewed live on Libby Hill yesterday. Fuck that asshole. Made slightly less shitty when the interviewed Connie Carpenter. She’s great, but even the pleasure of hearing her couldn’t erase the stain of Vaughters. Guy is a part of the old guard, needs to be kicked out like a lot of other dirtbags, if the sport ever is going to change.

      • Say what?

        A doper who continues to dope his riders? And lie…”I’ll shut the team down if anyone tests positive.” Unless his name is Danielson. And wear stupid fucking clothes on top of it, only emphasizing how in love with himself he is to this day.

        Let’s see here…interview a doper tied up with Lance and who continues to dirty the sport OR just a fucking regular dude who is passionate about cycling and drove up to see the Worlds. Yeah, I’d be terrible to interview. Fuck off.

        I ride bikes for fun these days. I was a scholarship Division I athlete in college and guess what? I did it clean and I despise cheaters and dopers. I don’t want to hear a single word out of that fuckface.

        • Wtf Ron. These are the most profane and the most idiotic comments I’ve ever read on here. This is sport. Vaughters didn’t injure you, steal from you, or insult your mother. Show some class . You come off as a stupid blowhard and I’m pretty sure none of us care for your contributions here.

          • Y’all,

            Cool it with the insults, both to cyclists/management and to the other commenters here. We don’t need the INRNG comment section to turn into the old Velonews and Cycling News article comment sections. Those were shut down for a reason.

        • Well, he kinda did steal from Angry Ron, assuming they were both the same generation, even more probable if from the same country. He stole prize money, job opportunities, life of a pro.
          Off course it is very possible that even with completely dopingless environment Angry Ron wouldn’t have made it anyway, but that’s something he will never know – and that is something that would bother me the most if I would be in his shoes.

  38. Seems like everyone who used the Vuelta for Worlds prep this year–and finished the Vuelta–was off the back foot @ the Worlds, whether in the RR or the TT. Though Sagan was forced out of the Vuelta by injury, it seems to have served him well in the RR since he didn’t wear himself out with all of the big Spanish climbs.

    This year’s evidence suggests that, if you want to have a shot at Worlds and unless you’ve got a shot at winning the Vuelta (e.g. the Dumolin surprise), it’s better to abandon the Vuelta partway through than to finish it.

  39. Inrrng,

    “Olympic Broadcast Service” usually provides Olympics event production. With it comes the bribes paid for lucrative equipment and services contracts.

    It seems Hein Verbruggen has departed the organization perhaps making good on his retirement claims.

  40. The expressions on each riders face in the top picture tells a story – pain and maximum effort from Dege, EBH and GvA – and determination from Sagan. It seems clear that on the day Sagan’s limit was a touch higher than the others.

  41. Shame there’s no analysis of the ladies race, one won equally as cleverly, if not more so by Armistead. On current form (I’m not saying claiming she’s better than Vos) she the number 1 female rider out there, and much like Sagan has a very weak team to back her up, meaning she had to sit all back of the bus and let the more powerful teams i.e. the Dutch and French to chase the strong breakaway. More women’s coverage please!

  42. The race was won on Thursday. There was no racing so all the riders could practice the course. We were on the 23rd St hill watching and most riders were taking it easy and riding up in the little ring while chatting. Not Sagan, he blew out of a group of riders and flew up it in his big ring. He new exactly what gear he could turn over and on Sunday it showed. The little things that make a world champ.

  43. Sagan is a great winner. Couldn’t be happier for him.

    Quick comment – ‘teams’? Shouldn’t we be talking about ‘country’ for this one race?

  44. Sagain deserved that. My two cents: Uran tried the same tactic he did in Canada, but didn’t have enough. Why? look at the last climb…he was about 40 people behind but was moving up much more than the others. Sagan? he was 3-4th wheel. Uran should have been second :). Rio is going to be nice! Uran for silver!

  45. Riders have to learn: bravery wins races. We see it so often: riders wait and wait, and end up with a placing (Valverde being the ultimate example, of course).
    A tougher course would be good.
    Covering the storm drains with barriers, so they had to ride up the cobbles, should also have been done.
    Women’s race was just one big stall until the final 200m – like watching people who’d never ridden a bike race before. No tactics and noticeably slow. (Of course, that’s sexism – not being bored by inferior racing.)
    But most of all, the organisers: if you can’t cover the races properly, you shouldn’t be given the races.

    • Funny comment about the women’s race: tactically, it was more or less the same as the men’s. And I doubt that you, I or most people can *really* notice the difference between 38 km/h and 41 km/h on TV.

      • Agreed, the only real difference I saw was that some of the other women were able to hold Armitstead’s wheel during her attack, so they ended up with a sprint, whereas Sagan was able to create a gap. In some respects, that made the women’s race *more* exciting as it had both the big attack and a sprint finish, whereas the men’s old had the former…

        Agree that the difference in speeds is much less noticeable on TV than when you’re trying to keep up.

      • Really? The women’s race I saw looked like a Saturday morning club ride…….even the final break was composed of lower tiered riders. Never gonna stay the distance. Good race, but not even in the same league.

        And, yes, the men were going obviously faster. Speed differences were much higher than 3km/hr.

        • Those were the average speeds, but thing with average is that if you go very much faster than that on some occasion, you need to be “less faster” in something else, that is, the average reflects pretty well what the general difference was.
          Besides, if you’re that good with speeds, please give us ASAP some of the specific speeds of the male pro race, like, how fast did they climb the three climbs, at what speed were they approaching the last Libby and so – I’d be really curious, but I’m not good enough to guess at eyesight, I should bother calculating, imagine that, or looking for some Strava ride.

          • You might need reading if you want to answer. Or understanding what you’re seeing. What was shown on TV were mainly avg. lap speeds.
            Since the general avg. had a difference of 3 km/h or so, if the male were racing some laps faster than +3km/h, they must have been racing some other laps not-that-faster.
            But since you’re apparently so good in catching little/greater speed differences at eyesight, I’m asking you a different thing: “how fast did they climb *the three climb*…” or “at what speed were they *approaching* Libby and so on”. Specific speeds, not shown on graphics, since what I’d like to know is precisely if you really can appreciate that.
            My guess is that you don’t have the slightest idea because, as many *experts* whose taste only is satisfied with *top cycling*, you say you want speed but you can’t even tell more or less what the speed is (as it’s perfectly normal, esp. on TV).

    • I must have watched a different women’s race. The breakaway on the last lap looked like it might stick for quite a while….the stronger countries didn’t want to chase as they all had a rider in there. The Dutch only took up the effort when they got a signal from Amy Pieters that she wasn’t feeling good for a win – she did so at a spot where the course doubled back and the peloton could see the breakaway.

  46. I like Inrng’s verdict: “The course was just selective enough after 260km, the crowds great and the result uncertain until the last moment.” Sagan wins with Sagan-style descent where no one else saw an opportunity. For the homers add the USA jersey at the front of the race in the best style possible, and it’s hard for this yank to imagine the whole thing coming off any better than it did. I too was disappointed by the tv coverage, but very glad motos were not a problem.

  47. Great write up but I have one small beef…

    I spent the day on 23rd and I assure you Sagan was far from invisible. He stayed well placed near the pointy end of the field almost the whole time and twice I saw him close big gaps coming up the hill others let gape open as fatigue in the field began to creep in as the distance wore on..

    • The tv coverage was so poor that we only got fleeting glimpses of anything but the very front of the peleton. One commentator did briefly mention that he saw Sagan at around 60th place, so in the front third of the race.
      But apart from that he was never seen or mentioned until the last lap.

  48. I’d say Sagan had it won by laying in wait for most of the day. As I watched him go past up Libby Hill on the final lap, it seemed obvious that he was in much better shape than the other riders up front. You could just see it in his face and posture. GVA was grasping at straws. Sagan’s attack was inevitable, and he was the man on that course to make it count.

  49. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the picture and use of the phrase “the moment the race was run” in the caption of this [] is a little blatant. I wonder if the Cycling News editor knows their guy stoleXXXXXborrowed your work. At least your version of the photo is a lot clearer, and includes a credit.

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