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"Why should I put pressure on myself? I've done a lot this year. I can only win or lose. I just needed to concentrate today but not before! And to be honest, I'm glad that it’s the end of the season as it was so long."

Photo: A.S.O.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
16.10.2016 @ 20:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Peter Sagan (Slovakia) became the sixth rider to retain his World Championships crown when he came out on top in a hard, selective race in Qatar. Having made it into a 26-rider group when the peloton split in the crosswinds, he timed his sprint perfectly to hold off Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) and Tom Boonen (Belgium) and defend the rainbow jersey that he will proudly wear in 2017 too.

 

We have gathered a few reactions,

 

Relaxed approach pays off for successful Sagan in Qatar

He did it – Peter Sagan successfully defended his reign as the world road race champion in Doha today with another stunning sprint finish after a race defined by desert winds. The select group formed with more than 170km to race in a tough crosswind section, a group that contained no less than five Tinkoff riders, including Sagan.

 

Once formed, the front group caught the day’s early break with a long way to go and held off the chase behind after the peloton had splintered into several groups on the road. Sagan initially had brother Juraj, as well as Michael Kolar for company before Juraj got dropped in the winds. Also making the split was Great Britain’s Adam Blythe, and Italy’s Daniele Bennati in a group dominated by the Belgians.

 

After the finish, an ecstatic Sagan said:

 

“I can’t believe it – I’m still in shock. At the decisive point in the race in the crosswinds I was the last one to get in the first group. Then it was about doing the sprint – I felt it was a little bit of a headwind so I had to come from the back. I was also lucky that Nizzolo didn’t close me, if he closed me for sure we crashed as I wasn’t going to brake.

 

“It’s unbelievable. I had the biggest fan group here from Slovakia and I felt it – thank you everybody for that, it gave me a lot of energy today. Thanks to my family who also travelled here, my father and my wife, and to my brother who was also in the front group but he wasn’t able to get back on after going back for bottles in the crosswinds. And thanks to Michael Kolar who did unbelievable work for me, he was always with me and supported me. I’m so happy.

 

"No, I cannot believe it. I never thought I could become world champion again so I'm in shock. When the echelons were formed, I was at the back. Luckily I could count on my brother Juraj who went to get water bottles for me. He risked his life for me. 

 

"This is incredible. I want to thank all my friends, fans and wife. We may also have a little party tonight. Hopefully, it will be a longer one than last year in Richmond, where there all the bars already closed at midnight.

 

”It was the first victory of the day to be in the first echelon. The Belgians and Italians pushed hard to make a selection. Then I had only to sprinkle me with fresh water and then I was still fresh. I did not work so I was relaxed.

 

"The sprint was a lottery. There were a lot of sprinters to keep an eye on: Cavendish, Kristoff, Matthews, Boonen, Nizzolo, me ... I did not know what wheel to choose . I went right, but I was lucky because I could have been blocked or crashed. This may be a twist of fate because it does not happen every day to win a sprint like that. I cannot believe it. It's really strange.

 

"You never know what's going to happen in a sprint, especially one like this with a lot of sprinters in the group. What wheel are you going to choose? It's always a lottery, something can happen, so you just go to do your best. I had nothing to lose.

 

"I still had one teammate, Kolar, Mark Cavendish had Adam Blythe, Norway had three, Italy had four… They were all interested in a sprint. I thought to myself it would be stupid to attack and I decided to go for the sprint. If I was first, second or tenth it didn't matter, I had nothing to lose. It just happens. It's very strange but I'm very happy.

 

"Sure, it's hot here, but that's hard, and where do you go to train? So I said I would prepare at home in Monaco, where the weather was still good. If you train here for five or six hours, you'd just finish yourself I think. I slept all day the first day I arrived here, then I did three hours and I thought it was too much. I did just an hour yesterday because today was the big day.

 

"We finished a lot of bottles today, I was always putting water on me, but you were able to stay cooler on the wheels. It was easier if you didn't have to work. But in the end I don't think anybody had too much energy left. Everybody suffered in the heat."

"Why should I put pressure on myself? I've done a lot this year. I can only win or lose. I just needed to concentrate today but not before! And to be honest, I'm glad that it’s the end of the season as it was so long. I need to rest for the next year.
 

"What is certain is that the rainbow sky is still mine and my jersey will remain white. Now I go to the gala of the UCI in Abu Dhabi and then I will have my first meeting with the team. I can get to know my teammates, but basically it does not change much. I stay in the same discipline. I'll have to keep pedaling to move my bike!”

The win crowns a superb season for Sagan, finishing the year as World Champion, European Champion and the top ranked rider in the UCI WorldTour. With just one race remaining, the victory caps a strong finish to the team’s final season.

 

Cavendish: I can only blame myself

Great Britain Cycling Team’s Mark Cavendish won silver after finishing behind Peter Sagan in a sprint finish as he was edged out of a second UCI Road World Championships title in Qatar.

 

The Manxman, winner in 2011 in Copenhagen, was narrowly beaten by Sagan as he got caught behind Australian Michael Matthews in a reduced bunch sprint.

 

Cavendish, 31, was on Sagan’s wheel in the closing kilometres of the Pearl Qatar circuit and when the Slovakian went left in the final 100m, Cavendish moved right and was forced to ride around Matthews as he pushed for the line.

 

“I’m disappointed, I feel like I lost gold rather than I won silver but that’s how it is,” Cavendish said.

 

“I wanted to be on Sagan’s wheel and I was then all of a sudden the road was blocked. I tried to find a way through and with less than a 100m to go I kind of had to stop pedalling and go round, I think, Michael Matthews and then it was too late. I got back on Boonen but it was too late to get back on Sagan.”

 

Cavendish and Adam Blythe were the only British riders of the nine-man squad in the front group after crosswinds in the Qatar desert broke the 257.5km race into pieces after just 70km.

 

Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas both punctured at the vital point as within minutes multiple echelons had formed on the way to the Pearl Qatar island circuit.

 

Steve Cummings, Dan McLay and Ian Stannard also missed the front group, whilst Ben Swift and Scott Thwaites were left in the first chasing group.

 

“I wanted to be on Sagan’s wheel, and ultimately I was and then all of a sudden the road was blocked,” Cavendish  added. “We talked about lythe going at that point, but with the wind it didn’t quite go. It just created a bit more of a barrier in front. He did what he was asked. I made the call, and at the end of the day, it was the wrong call to make.”

 

“I was second into that corner where it split behind Luke Rowe. He made it in but then, unfortunately, he punctured while we were in the front echelon so it was just myself and Adam.

 

“Of all nine of us, we knew that Adam would be the one that was going to be up front. He’s an incredible rider in the wind, and he finds his own little way into things. He was superb, and he looked after me really well today so I didn’t have to get into any dangerous situations.

 

It's really frustrating because I had the legs, the power to win. When you're beaten by such a small margin, that's one thing. But here, I made a mistake. 

”He chose the right side of the road, I took the left. He was able to squeeze between guys, I had to find my way. I got back to Matthews and Boonen but with 200m to go it was too late. Sagan was strong, it was not easy to do well in this sprint. 

”It was not complicated to be in the first ground. I was in second position on the wheel of Luke Rowe, before we hit the sidewind. Then the team did a great job with Dan McLay, Ian Stannard and Adam Blythe. It's a shame to have lost Luke due to a puncture but ... 

 

“It wasn’t easy, but it was doable. I was straight back training again doing my job [after the Olympics9. I have a job to do. With Team Dimension Data I’ve been riding on the road anyway so that’s what I’ve got to do. The hardest part was being sick a few weeks ago. I really lost a lot of form there. I was surprised with how good I felt during the race. In my head, I had these goals and when I have goals, it’s easy to focus.”

 

Boonen: When you sprint for the title, only victory counts

Belgium made the race on Sunday afternoon as soon as the peloton hit a crosswinds section of the Qatari desert, splitting the bunch and dropping a considerable number of sprinters together with their teammates. With 150 kilometers to go, the front group contained only 26 riders, Belgium and Italy having numerical advantage, which they put to work to increase the gap to two minutes before hitting the 15.2km-long Pearl circuit, that was set to be covered seven times.

 

It all stayed together there until the final lap, when both Niki Terpstra and Tom Leezer put in solo attacks, the latter launching his attack inside the last two kilometers, before getting caught with just 700 meters to go. In the slightly uphill finale, it was every man for himself and Tom Boonen notched the bronze medal after putting in a solid sprint and concluding the race just behind reigning champion Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish.

 

"I would have preferred to win the race, but things are as they are, so congrats to Peter. I think we tried everything that was possible, took control of the race after 75 kilometers, had an important role again at the Worlds, just like in the previous years, and I'm really proud of my teammates", said Tom Boonen, only the second rider in history to take medals at the World Championships in a time span of 11 years.

 

The 36-year-old Belgian, winner of the rainbow jersey in Madrid and now the oldest rider to podium at the Worlds in the past decade, continued: "We had two tactics today: to get Greg cover the big attacks and to play my card in the sprint. When Leezer went, it was only me and Jurgen left at the front and he had to go full gas to catch him. At that point, I already knew it was going to be difficult, and then, when an Italian guy passed me, I felt I had a chance and tried to surprise my opponents, starting my sprint with 200 meters to go, but with guys like Sagan and Cavendish in your wheel is difficult to make it. I came close of taking the win and can say that I'm happy with the performance of the team."

 

"Disappointment prevails. In the last two kilometers, only Jürgen Roelandts and I controlled the race. Our team has done a lot of work and took the race in hands like we wanted. We enjoyed it. The last laps were long and this locked up the race. Everyone was shattered by the echelons.

 

”In the sprint, I went at the right time, maybe too early in retrospect. But this third place was the maximum.

 

"If I had had one more teammate in the finale, I would have sprinted for first place. We misjudged Leezer.  We tried to control the race in the last two kilometres but you pay for these efforts so we had to make sure that we did not go too far into the red.

 

“Now my chain even jumped 30 to 40 meters from the finish. That I still finished third? That does not count. If you can win a Worlds race in a sprint, you just want to win.

 

“It was extremely hot. I am therefore particularly pleased that the race is over. Bronze does not count, though I'm glad I'm third and not fourth. But I just wanted to win the sprint.

 

”Sagan won some races but not all. No one is invincible. I could have won. Third is a good result but I could have done better. In such a sprint, you can both win and lose. I am especially happy not to finish fourth. 

”I missed a man in the final. At the red kite, I found myself in second and it got complicated. Jurgen Roelandts chased behind Leezer because he was stronger than expected, but I found myself alone for the sprint. The Italian train overtook me, I started but I had the misfortune of having Sagan and Cavendish in the wheel. But hey, it's like that, we cannot change the result.

“We assumed our responsibilities.  Between kilometer 75-135, we made the race. Everyone knew the course and direction of the wind. We just turned a little to the west. We tried in Lusail after 30km but the wind was from the front and in the absence of support we sat up. Already there, it was very long to the finish. The last hour of the race was not necessary.

“Everyone was afraid but it was a foregone conclusion. It was decided by the physical shape. It's complicated to make it into the first echelon, only the bigger engines are in front. By analyzing the starters, many have built their group for the sprinters. This is possible in the Tour of Qatar where the WorldTour teams are more balanced but with the nations it is complicated.”

 

Van Avermaet: What could we have done differently?

"I wanted to attack with Terpstra, but that was not easy. It might have been easier if the race had split earlier but at that time it was really not easy. We have taken the race into our hands to make sure that it didn’t come back together,” Greg Van Avermaet told Sporza.

 

"Then it was up to Tom to finish it off as well as possible. He did a good sprint, I think, but his chain apparently jumped. That’s racing. I wanted to help in the lead-out for the the sprint, but I looked a bit too long for Terpstra and Leezer. They surprised me a bit. Then I was in tenth position and it was too fast. I could not move up and could not set up the sprint for Tom. Disappointment prevails. But we have nothing to regret.

 

"We have taken course in hands and have done everything to be world champion. We have nothing to reproach ourselves. We were where we had to be, since we were 6 riders. Stuyven, Keukeleire and Naesen did a super race.

 

"If we had won here, everyone would have been happy. But if you do not win, you're disappointed. But we could hardly do it differently. You can’t drop like Sagan and Cavendish on such a course. What should we have done differently?”

 

Belgians proud of strong team performance

Jürgen Roelandts told Sporza:

 

"I was waiting for the other countries, but the problem is of course that we had already taken control of the whole race and everyone was looking at us.

 

"Actually it was a sprint to come from the back, but we had no choice. It is very unfortunate, because if I had saved myself until the 500 meters from the finish, I could have hit the front with Tom on my wheel.

 

"Sagan came from the back which is how the sprint was supposed to be done. Perhaps Tom should have let my wheel go a bit earlier and come from the back.

 

"You always ride for victory and if that fails, then the disappointment dominates. It all went well and we felt good, but Sagan is naturally beyond the ordinary.”

 

Oliver Naesen told Sporza:

 

"We had to ride the final kilometer and heard in our earpiece ‘Fantastic ride, chapeau.’ Then you know that we did not win.

 

"It was really a sprint to the turning point in the desert. We were 6 riders within the first 10 and then we started to ride. Then you know that sooner or later it will split.

 

"There were six of us which was good. That Sagan, Cavendish and Kristoff were there? They are top riders for echelons.

 

“I feel relief. Tom was really fantastic in the echelons. Sometimes I had the bad luck that he had to take over from me. Then you know that he can win the race.

 

"It is not a shame to be beaten by Sagan and Cavendish. Maybe this was the highest achievable today, Sagan is the best rider in the world."

 

Jasper Stuyven told Sporza:

 

"We knew it would be chaos after the turning point. I did not really notice that we were in such a small group

 

"With all the Belgians there, I knew we had to ride. You know that it is far from the finish so you need to distribute the forces. Fortunately we were able to rotate with three riders but it was enormously difficult.

 

"We would only keep riding if the group was small enough and it was soon clear that this was the case. It was important to keep the chasing group behind. I often talked to Oliver about how the legs felt. In the finale, I again took a long turn and tried to increase the pace but then it was over.

 

"You come to win, especially after such a race. Now it's not really a disappointment because bronze is still a nice consolation prize. It has not been for nothing."

 

Australia: Matthews did everything right

Michael Matthews sprinted to fourth place on the final day of the 2016 UCI Road World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Following nearly six hours of racing, the 26-year-old narrowly missed out on his second straight medal. 

“Michael gave himself every opportunity to win that bike race,” said National Elite Men’s Road Director Brad McGee. “There’s always a risk that someone is going to play it safe and sprint for a minor place. He didn’t do that.”

“Michael put himself in the right position at the right time to win,” McGee added. “I’ve got nothing but huge accolades for his ride, and I think Australia can be proud of his performance.” 

A silver medallist in Richmond last year, Matthews lined up as team leader of an ambitious nine-rider Australian team in Doha. While every other world championships race this week took place largely on the 15-kilometre circuit in The Pearl, the elite men’s race involved a 150-kilometre run-in through the wind-swept desert before reaching Doha.

“The boys were spot-on from the start,” said McGee. “There was a heavy focus on servicing in the opening kilometres. We did everything we could to stay cool – lots of bottle feeds and changing Camelbaks. By the time we were 50 kilometres into the race, it felt like it had been 150 kilometres for everyone. Despite that, the boys were keeping cool, sticking to the plan, looking after our priority riders, staying attentive and making good decisions.” 

A seven rider breakaway pocketed more than a 11-minute advantage over a relatively relaxed peloton. The wind began to pick up in the third hour of the race and a sense of nerves set in as early signs of echelons began to materialise. 
 

An untimely flat took Mark Renshaw (NSW) out of contention before a selection was made.

“He punctured just before the second right, before we turned to head back to Doha, which was just unbelievable,” said McGee. “There are moments in a race that are the worst moments to puncture, and this was it today.” 

The Belgians pushed the pace hard on the front when the wind direction changed, and the response was immediate. Within ten kilometres the peloton had split into five distinct groups.

“We knew all along that this would happen,” said McGee. “We expected a split of 20-25 riders, and we thought if we got two or three in there, it would be a win. We also thought the second group would probably come back. Everyone was on target for that.” 

Matthews made the selection alongside Luke Durbridge (WA) and Mat Hayman (ACT). Mitch Docker (VIC) and Zak Dempster (VIC) were in the next chase group. 

The race was unfolding perfectly to plan for Australia until Durbridge was hit from behind, causing him to crash. 

“That was disappointing,” noted McGee. “After clearing the technical section in the front group with Hayman and Bling, that was really tough to handle. You put all that work in and get the maximum riders you think can get in the front group and then you lose from one little crash.” 

While the absence of Durbridge was certainly an unneeded blow, Hayman and Matthews kept their cool. 

“Matty is the perfect guy to have next to Michael if you can choose only one,” said McGee. “They gelled together in the build-up to the finish.” 
 
By the time the group hit The Pearl for seven laps around the circuit, the breakaway had joined the first group from the peloton. Approximately 30 riders had a one-minute advantage over the first chase group. 

“We were toast by the time we came to town,” said Hayman. “I had cramps with 130 kilometres to go. It was pretty taxing on the body. We were all hot and bothered, but we were all in the same boat. There’s only so much you can ask your body to do. Everyone knew they couldn’t use too many bullets.” 

A lack of collaboration in the chase group spelt is demise. As the gap grew, it became clear that the 2016 UCI road world champion would come from the leading group. Hayman delivered Matthews in the perfect position to open his sprint. 

“Mat did his job,” said McGee. “He did everything he could to put Michael in the right place.” 

Sprinting from the left side of the road, Matthews was outkicked by Mark Cavendish (Great Britain), who was able to come around him just before the line. Cavendish was bested by Peter Sagan (Slovakia), who opened his sprint late on the right side of the road. Tom Boonen (Belgium) slipped through the middle to snag the final spot on the podium. 

“I know Michael is very disappointed,” said McGee. “He’s a winner. He comes here to win, and he knows he has the ability to win. Even today, which was one of the worst courses we’ve seen for his style of racing, he backed himself.

“I think come tomorrow, he’ll be able to look back on the positives and give himself a pat on the back. We’ll all certainly do that tonight. I’ve got nothing but huge respect for the effort he gave today, all the boys gave today, and the way they put themselves in a position to win.”
 

Nizzolo: We did not make any mistakes

Giacomo Nizzolo was the best Italian in fifth.

 

"We did a good race. We were in front of the right time and Jacopo Guarnieri led me out perfectly for the sprint. The field was strong and the finishing order gives value to the result. So I want to thank my team mates because we did not make any mistakes,” he told RAI.

 

"We are were good,” coach Davide Cassani told RAI. “The guys tried to do what they were told. After 65 km there was an echelon and we were unlucky, losing Sabatini due to a problem with the saddle. Bennati was superb, but also the others. Guarnieri, as we had planned, led Giacomo out in the final 500 meters. In the end the strongest won. Sagan is a phenomenon, and that's it, but we were there until the end.”

 

Kristoff: I had the feeling that Boasson Hagen was sprinting against me

Norway were left disappointed as Edvald Boasson Hagen was sixth and pre-race captain Alexander Kristoff was seventh.

 

"I was on Eddie's wheel and have yelled at him to start the sprint. But he did not respond and waited too long," Kristoff told Norwegian TV2.

 

When Kristoff launched his sprint, Boasson Hagen sprinted too.

 

"This interrupted the rhythm. I had the feeling that he rode for himself. We need to find out what the problem was.”

 

”I feel a little betrayed. I feel that he sprinted against me,” he told procycling.no

 

“I was on the wheel of Edvald, and he waited too long. Finally, he sprinted himself, even though I yelled. The plan was that he should go with 400 meters left, but he did not go until we had 250 meters to the finish so it did not go as plan. I did not get a clear path until it was too late.”

 

Boasson Hagen denies that he was riding for himself.

 

"It's hard to catch the right moment. Sometimes you are too early, sometimes too late. I've tried everything, in the end it was too late for both of us to even get a medal," Boasson Hagen told Norwegian channel TV2.

 

“It was too late, and then it was not right. It was not that I was trying to deny him some space. I do not feel that it was just because of me. We agreed that we would ride together. I waited until we had 300 meters left and went with some of the attacks too.”

 

Bouhanni: I just exploded

It was a bad day for France as they only had William Bonnet in the first group. Nacer Bouhanni was in the second echelon and Arnaud Demare was even further back.

 

Nacer Bouhanni told FFC.fr:

 

“We knew that it would be decided at that moment. We had to take it as it was the final sprint. I was the last rider to miss the first echelon. I made a big sprint to get back. Christophe (Laporte) brought me to ten meters from the back. I was on the wheel of the last rider of the group but I exploded. I could never make it back.

“I knew it was going to be complicated to get back because only the Germans were chasing. We would have needed one or two more nations. But as long as it was a minute, I thought we could make it. When the gap increased to two minutes, I realized that it was complicated. We missed the first echelon. The error was there but it would have been good to have one or two or three in the second group. We had one rider in the first group and one in the second. It is not good enough. It was doomed to fail.
 

“It is a disappointment and a missed opportunity as it was decided in a sprint. If I had made it into the first group, there would have been something to be done. Greipel was with me. You had to be better placed, that's all. I had to do that big sprint to get back to the first group and that cost me too much. We cannot change the race. It is how it is
 

 

Bonnet added:

 

“It's a shame ... I tried to do what I could in the sprint but I had cramps. The result is anecdotal. If Arnaud Démare had been present in the group, I think we would have been in contention for the title. It's a shame. 

“Everyone knew it was going to explode at km 72. We took a turn and had a three-quarter tailwind. We tried to get back into position but unfortunately, Arnaud was not there when we left.

“When I saw the pace they had in front, I told myself that it would not be going on like this throughout the race. I was hoping that a team would chase back. Unfortunately, the difference did not come down, it even grew on the circuit. The Belgians and the Italians wanted to sprint. From that moment, it was certain that we would stay together.

 

"I think we can be disappointed because it would have been possible that either Arnaud or Nacer would have bee nwith me. I think the title was possible because we saw that Italy and Belgium kept the group possible. It's a shame that they were not in the group.”

 

Demare: Maybe we lacked a little solidarity

Arnaud Demare told FFC.fr:

 

”Everyone saw it! There were echelons, and for sure we were not good! We were caught out by the big nations. We knew very well that they would try, and we maybe lacked a little solidarity against other major nations.

 

“We saw the echelons, we were in the wind, and when it was two minutes, it was all over. It is a total disappointment, we knew what to expect and we were trapped. We were many to miss out. Once it was decided in the wind, it was impossible to come back. The physical qualities made a difference for a rider like Sagan who rode thirty to forty meters in the wind to return to the first group. Physically, I had the means to do well, but maybe I was a little too patient to make the jump. We were trapped.

 

“On the way back on the highway I was not good, I had bad legs. I was suffering in the heat a bit. Once arrived on the circuit it was better but we were already three minutes thirty seconds behind. I end this race without being tired, and that's what's disappointing.”

 

Leezer: I thought ‘It cannot be true’

Tom Leezer made a promising final attack but was caught with 500m to go.

 

"I had a really good day. After 70km, you had to sprint like in a junior race to get into the first echelon. I was in difficulty because I did not have something to drink. But then we arrived at the circuit where it was decided. Niki and I had agreed to go on the attack. We would not be sprinting for tenth place and wanted to play all or nothing. Then he attacked first and there was some nervousness,” he told NOS

 

"I felt it was a good time to go. Niki shouted: Attack!. And then I was gone. I turned on the engine and then it was riding, riding, riding. The first time I looked back, I thought, 'Well, that's a nice gap!’. After that left-hand turn, I had a tailwind and I could recover a bit. When I looked back again in the last kilometer, I still had a nice gap.

 

"In the last kilometer you think: ‘It cannot be true?’. But at eight hundred meters to go, I suddenly received a slap in my face from the wind as it became a headwind. I slowly became empty. Then you know that they go to the sprint. And with five hundred meters, the fairy tale ended. But it was a fairy tale anyway. To have such a debut at the Worlds makes me more than satisfied. "

 

Terpstra: There were no suitable places to attack

Niki Terpstra was the best Dutchman in 9th.

 

"I was right behind the first echelon. I had almost missed it. Fortunately, we saved the situation. Dylan (Groenewegen, ed.) was also close, but he was stuck in the wind and could forget about his chances. I was not thinking right away that this was it at it was only seconds at first. When the gap was a minute, I thought: "Yes, it could be this." The others worked to keep Germany and France behind,” he told NOS.

 

"That big loop in the desert brought spectacle. It was a shame that we had to do so many laps. I had to wait. For a moment I thought about doing the sprint, because I can sprint well after a tough race. But I was not thee for a good final result. I then thought that I had to attack, but I could not find a suitable place. There were few good points to make a move. The Dutchmen were the only ones to attack. Pity.

 

"Tom did a good attack. I had tried it twice, but I got no room. My tactic was also predictable. Then I felt it slowed down. I went to Tom and told him: ‘Go!’. In the last 1200 meters, he had a reasonable gap. Then you know that everything is possible. Eventually headwind killed him because the pace was not slow. Tom did well.”

 

Spain: There are no excuses

Spain had no riders in the first group and only Imanol Erviti in the second group.

 

"We cannot find an excuse. When the riders were not there, it is simply because they have failed as the best were all in front. It is something we do not like to admit but it is true. We knew that it would split after the right-hand turn. We could not be in the first group and not in the second, except for Erviti. Perhaps if I the Germans had had Tony Martin, we could have chased and the race would have been different. But it went like it went. We cannot blame the Germans or find an excuse,” coach Javier Minguez said.

 

Carlos Barbero was in the second group "but there was a split. We were a few meters behind and I lost contact. It was clear that it was very difficult for us to be in the front, but we should have been in the second group. Then they were gone and it was impossible.” 

 

Juan Jose Lobato did not seek excuses. 

 

"When we took the turn, I was among the first forty but I dropped from the first group to the last. I did not have the legs." 

 

David De la Cruz was "disappointed, because the whole week I was good and today I did not have my day" while Francisco Ventoso recognized that " the attack came where we expected, and although we were warned, we could not be there.”

 

Greipel: We showed team spirit

The big losers were Germany as they were left with no riders in the first group when John Degenkolb was taken out by a mechanical.

 

"There is not much to be proud of at this World Champiosnhips. We can do a lot better, but today we showed character and team spirit. With John and Marcel, I had to riders at my side and they tried to close the gap. They brought it down to 1.30 but unfortunately no other nation helped us,” Greipel told radsport-news.com.

 

Unlucky Degenkolb: It was a shit season

John Degenkolb was in the first group but was taken out by a mechanical.

 

"That was a shit season this year. But I am still alive, life goes on. The mechanical decided everything for me. I do not know what would have been possible if that had not happened,” he told rad-net.de.

 

Strong Bennett fades after great start in Doha

On the final day of racing at the UCI 2016 Road World Championships in Doha, Qatar today, Sam Bennett’s hopes of a podium were dashed in the desert heat when a combination of factors pushed him out of the winning break, and out of the race, in the Elite Men’s Road Race. In a race where only 53 of the 199 starters completed the race, all three Irish riders were listed as DNF. The 257.5km race was aggressive from the start with the main group of contenders establishing themselves early on. Having a flat race profile, heat and strong winds, a fast race was predicted by many, with the style of racing suiting sprint specialists like Ireland’s in form Bennett. Ryan Mullen, who had finished 5th earlier in the week in the Elite Men’s Time Trial, was pulled out with one lap remaining, as was Matt Brammeier, who suffered three punctures in the race.


Team Manager Kurt Bogaert had predicted the winning move to come after 75km of racing, and Sam Bennett moved smartly to move with the key riders. 

 

“We knew the move was going to happen at about 75km with the Belgian team, they were talking to the Belgian press during the week. Sam was in the right spot and went with it. Unfortunately a combination of factors meant he couldn’t stay there. He was sick two weeks ago, so in the dessert it was hot and dry, and he got overheated. He dropped to the second group which had the Germans in it, who were pushing up the speed because they needed to chase, but Sam got more and more problems with the heat – shivers and everything – I gave him ice, but it was not worth it to continue. We made the right decision to stop him, something bad could happen, and he had given everything to be in the first group but circumstance showed it was not possible to continue.”


Over the past year the Carrick-on-Suir man has shown that he has comfortably made the leap into the elite ranks, in particular with his win in the Paris-Bourges 1.1 class race earlier this month. Bogaerts believes that he is at the right level, but luck was not with him today, saying: 

 

“Sam is at the level to keep with that top competition, he has won two UCI races in the last month before the worlds, so he can take that with him. He was sick a couple of weeks ago and lost about ten days training, so when he was going into the red zone too early in that heat there’s nothing really you can do.”


Mullen and Brammeier were also in action, and raced well today, with Brammeier getting unlucky with three punctures and Mullen missing out on the winning lead group, a group in which Bogaerts believes that he was capable of being: 

 

“Ryan has the strength to be in that first group, he missed a bit of road racing experience to get there, and was maybe a little scared of the big names like Boonen and Van Avermaet, but he has learnt a lot from today. He knows now that with his kind of legs he can go with the big moves, he needs to go with them because today he ended up in a group that was too easy for him, even though it was a good group. It was pulled on the last lap even though it was only ten minutes behind the leaders, which is not normal, it would have been nice for him to be able to finish here. Ryan trained specifically for the Time Trial, and when you look at his result, finishing 5th against the best riders in the world; he did the right thing preparing for that. More road experience and confidence will come with time. Matt was unfortunate to get three punctures today, so it really wasn’t his lucky day!”


This has been a good week for Irish cycling, with Irish riders getting four top thirty results, and in particular a week which saw outstanding time trials from Mullen and U23 Eddie Dunbar. Bogaerts is pleased with the standard of racing this week. 

 

“We had a good week across the categories, even though sometimes luck was not on our side. There were the crashes in the U23 and Junior Road Races which caught us out, but then we had great results in the Time Trial, which is probably the hardest event in cycling, as it is a true test of strength only the rider against the clock. Eddie and Ryan both were very impressive here.”

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