Peter Sagan

Slovakia’s Sagan first to win three-straight road race world titles

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In a dramatic photo finish, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan became the first man ever to win three consecutive men’s world championship road race titles when he crossed the finish line in Bergen, Norway.

Norway’s Alexander Kristoff rounded the final turn toward home with a slight lead, churning for the finish, but Sagan sprinted up his right side to edge the Norwegian on the final extension at the finish.

An estimated 100,000 spectators watched the riders repeatedly try to establish a lead pack throughout the race which ended with 12 loops through the streets of Bergen, but no one could find a way to make a clean break. Sagan would bide his time in the peloton for much of the race.

Adding even more drama to an already thrilling road race, with 3km left France’s Julian Alaphilippe began pulling away from a bunched peloton, which kicked off the final lap en masse. With Alaphilippe appearing in control, the cameras shooting from the lead pack motorcycle lost power.

Television commentators and everyone watching on TV or online were left in the dark, waiting to catch a glimpse of the lead riders. Tension mounted while viewers were stuck looking at a road void of cyclists near one of the final turns toward the finish.

“Where are the riders at the front of this race!” lamented NBC’s Paul Sherwen.

When the riders finally came into view, Alaphilippe was no longer in the lead, and 25-30 riders were jockeying for position as they rushed to the finish, but it was Sagan who would cross first in the end.

“For the last five kilometers, I said to myself, it’s already done. But it’s unbelievable. This is something special. You saw in the climb, we were in pieces. And at the finish, it all happened in seconds,” Sagan said after the race according to The Guardian.

“I want to dedicate this win to Michele Scarponi, it would have been his birthday tomorrow. And I want to dedicate this victory to my wife. We are expecting a baby.”

Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi was killed after being hit by a van while training near his home in Filottrano back in April. The loss was one that was felt across the entirety of the cycling world.

Michael Matthews of Australia finished the race in third.

Full results can be found here.

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MORE: Officer body checks fan at world road cycling championships (video)

Mark Cavendish: It took ‘courage’ to disqualify Peter Sagan

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VITTEL, France (AP) — Mark Cavendish commended the “courage” of Tour de France jurors for disqualifying world champion Peter Sagan for a horrific crash that took both of them out of the race on Tuesday.

Speaking Wednesday, before the Tour set off without him from the spa town of Vittel on Stage 5, Cavendish said his immediate concern after he hit the deck was a profusely bleeding finger on his right hand.

“There was just a puddle of blood on the floor. I thought, ‘I’m going to bleed to death here.’ But my teammates were around and they helped me to my feet,” he said.

The winner of 30 Tour stages in his stellar career was later diagnosed with a broken right shoulder blade and withdrew from the race. Sagan, who appeared to elbow Cavendish before he fell at high speed, stayed on his bike but was disqualified for endangering Cavendish and other riders in the sprint finish at Vittel.

Cavendish said: “It takes a lot of courage … to eliminate the world champion from the Tour de France.”

Cavendish said he bore no hard feelings toward Sagan and that his actions didn’t appear malicious. He stressed that they are good friends and said Sagan called him Tuesday evening while he was being examined in hospital.

Sagan’s explanation for extending his right elbow into Cavendish’s path — as the Briton was speeding up alongside the Slovak, shaving the barriers — was that he was just trying to stay upright.

“He said it was keeping himself balanced, so it was nice to know. He said he didn’t know it was me coming up,” Cavendish said. “It was the elbow which I said I was confused about. I spoke to Peter about that. Whether or not, it was intentional, it doesn’t look great.”

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Cavendish dismissed suggestions that he was trying to squeeze into a space that was too small.

“I know what kind of gaps I can fit through,” he said.

Cavendish praised Sagan for immediately coming to his team bus after the crash to apologize.

“It was an honorable thing to see Peter there at the bus, already come to apologize,” he said. “It shows our relationship, shows the man he is and I really appreciate that more than anything.”

However, he also commended the jurors for their decision to disqualify Sagan, calling them “among the most experienced jury that I’ve ever witnessed at the Tour de France.”

“It’s just sad that we’ll both be out of the Tour de France,” Cavendish said of Sagan and himself. “We’ve spoken, we’re fine.”

The Tour race director, Thierry Gouvenou, told The Associated Press that he supported the jury’s disqualification of Sagan. He said Sagan “also was at fault” in a first crash that took down more than a dozen riders in the final stretch Tuesday, before the crash that wiped out Cavendish and others in the finishing sprint.

“Ultimately, there are no attenuating circumstances,” Gouvenou said. “I think they made a good choice.”

“We all complain about the crashes in the first week of the Tour. It gets to the point where the riders just have to respect each other.”

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Peter Sagan wins Tour de France Stage 3 despite pedal problem (video)

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Peter Sagan came unclipped as he accelerated toward the uphill Tour de France Stage 3 finish. That only compounded the pressure on the pre-stage favorite.

Did it affect the showman Slovakian?

“What is pressure?” Sagan said afterward with a laugh. “I don’t know.”

Sagan, winner of the sprinters’ green jersey at the last five Tours, notched his first stage victory of this year’s Tour de France on Monday.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider emerged from a bunched uphill sprint after a 132-mile stage that began in Belgium, crossed through Luxembourg and into northeastern France.

Sagan took the lead in the final half-mile and held on despite briefly coming off one of his pedals.

Australian Michael Matthews was second in the same time, followed by Ireland’s Dan Martin.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Sagan, now with eight career Tour stage victories at age 27, could very well win several stages in this year’s Tour. But his focus is likely on matching German Erik Zabel‘s record of six sprinters’ titles.

He moved from 15th to third place in the green jersey standings with a 50-point prize for the stage win. Sagan is 16 points behind German Marcel Kittel, the Stage 2 winner and runner-up to Sagan in the 2016 sprinter standings.

Also Monday, Great Britain’s Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey as the race leader.

Thomas’ Team Sky mate Chris Froome is still the highest-placed rider eyeing the overall title in three weeks in Paris. Froome, trying to win the Tour for the fourth time in five years, moved from sixth place to second overall, remaining 12 seconds behind Thomas.

American Taylor Phinney gave up the polka-dot jersey for King of the Mountains to countryman and Cannondale–Drapac teammate Nate Brown.

Tuesday’s Stage 4 is a flat, 129-mile trek south from Luxembourg into France. An expected bunch sprint finish should include Germans and Andre Greipel and Kittel as well as Brit Mark Cavendish seeking his 31st career Tour stage win.

NBC Sports Gold‘s live coverage starts at 6:10 a.m. ET. NBCSN coverage starts at 7:30.

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Stage 3
1. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 5:07:19
2. Michael Matthews (AUS) — +:00
3. Dan Martin (IRL) — +:00
4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) — :00
5. Alberto Bettiol (ITA) — +:02

General Classification
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR) — 10:00:31
2. Chris Froome (GBR) — +:12
3. Michael Matthews (AUS) — +:12
4. Peter Sagan (SVK) — +13
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) — +16

Peter Sagan