World Road Cycling Championships

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Alejandro Valverde is second oldest male road cycling world champion

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INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) — Alejandro Valverde sprinted to gold in the men’s road race at the world championships on Sunday.

The Spanish rider was the fastest of a leading group of four, with Romain Bardet of France taking the silver and Michael Woods of Canada the bronze, while Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands placed fourth.

It was the 38-year-old Valverde’s first world title, after finishing runner-up in 2003 and 2005 and coming third four times.

The only older man to win a world title in the road race or time trial was Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk in 1985, according to Procyclingstats.com.

Defending champion Peter Sagan had his three-year winning streak snapped when he quit the race with 90 kilometers left. The Slovakian sprint specialist struggled on the 258-kilometer course, which included 4,681 meters of climbing and was regarded as one of the toughest world championship courses in decades.

Full results are here.

The 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium both fell back on a late climb.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Rohan Dennis joins Australian greats with time trial world title

Anna van der Breggen wins road race world title by largest gap in 29 years

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Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen won the world championships road race by the largest margin in 29 years, completing a Dutch sweep of the elite world titles for a second straight year.

Van der Breggen, 28, notched her first world title following four silver medals between the road race and time trial. She distanced the rest of a leading group of six on the penultimate climb with about 25 miles left and cruised to win by 3 minutes, 42 seconds over Australian Amanda Spratt.

Only legendary Jeannie Longo of France had a greater winning margin, according to Procyclingstats.com. Longo won the fourth of her five world road race titles in 1989 by 4:05.

“I didn’t know the time, I didn’t know anything, so I kept going until the finish line,” van der Breggen said. “I think, until the finish line, I only believed it was possible.”

Italian Tatiana Guderzo took bronze, a further 1:44 behind. The top American was Ruth Winder in 10th.

Van der Breggen covered the 96 miles in 4:11:04. Full results are here.

Van der Breggen joined legends in pairing an Olympic road race title with a world championship in the discipline — Dutchwomen Leontein van Moorsel and Marianne Vos (whom van der Breggen formerly rode for as a support rider), Longo and Brit Nicole Cooke. Van Moorsel is the only one to win all four golds — Olympic and worlds road race and time trial.

Saturday’s rout was vastly different from the Rio Games, when van der Breggen and two others surged past American Mara Abbott with 500 meters left. The Dutchwoman crossed the finish line in the same time as the silver and bronze medalists.

On Tuesday, van der Breggen took her third silver medal in four years in the time trial, 28 seconds slower than countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten in a Dutch podium sweep with Ellen van Dijk.

It’s been quite a few years for van der Breggen, who took a break from cycling during her junior career when she was selected for a nursing internship in Ghana.

Worlds conclude with the men’s road race Sunday on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold. A full broadcast schedule is here.

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MORE: Rohan Dennis joins Australian greats with first world title

Rohan Dennis wins world champs time trial by huge margin

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Rohan Dennis consolidated his place among the greatest Australian road cyclists with the biggest win of his career, routing the world championships time trial field by 81 seconds in Austria on Wednesday.

Dennis, a 28-year-old from Adelaide, conquered the 32-mile course with one significant climb in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 2.57 seconds. He unseated 2017 World champion Tom Dumoulin, the runner-up at this year’s Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Dennis, who was fifth in Rio, missing a medal by eight seconds, after having to change bikes due to a broken handlebar. “I’ve been chasing this since I was a junior. I’ve never won it in any age group.”

The Dutchman Dumoulin finished second Wednesday. Belgian Victor Campenaerts took third. Full results are here.

Dennis won by a margin that conjures the dominance of Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who won the first of his four rainbow jerseys by 90 seconds over American David Zabriskie in 2006.

Dennis became the third Australian man to win an elite individual world title. Michael Rogers took three straight time trials from 2003-05. Cadel Evans, the only Aussie to win a Grand Tour at the 2011 Tour de France, took road race gold in 2009.

Dennis has won individual time trials at all three Grand Tours and held the hour record for two months in 2015.

All this after a decorated track cycling career, including a 2012 Olympic team pursuit silver medal and a pair of world titles in that discipline. Dennis’ best Grand Tour finish was 16th in the Giro d’Italia in May.

Worlds conclude with the elite road races this weekend on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold. A full broadcast schedule is here.

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MORE: Simon Yates reflects on first Grand Tour title at Vuelta