WorldTour Wrap: red carpets, goats, TV glitches… and in the end, Sagan wins

An alternative look at the UCI Road World Championships

A tumultuous elite men’s race brought the Bergen Worlds to a close in emphatic style on Sunday, with Peter Sagan winning his third consecutive rainbow jersey. A win that was made all the more impressive by the fact he seemed to be totally absent from the TV screen for nearly all of the race.

Commentators and fans alike commented all day that they hadn’t seen Sagan, putting it down first to him being under the weather, then just assuming he had been dropped.

Peter Sagan remained almost invisible at the World Championships… until he popped up to out-sprint Alexander Kristoff and take the title (Pic: Simon Wilkinson/

The race was characterised by a seemingly-endless string of chaotic attacks from the puncheur-style riders, all geared towards shaking loose the pure sprinters expected to excel in the race’s flat finale. Sagan was involved in none of these attacks, nor could he or any of his teammates be seen doing the chasing down.

Further mystery was added when the TV director went a bit avant garde and decided to cut away from the racing at 3km to go, switching instead to this shot of some crowds just after the flamme rouge for what felt like FIVE HOURS. In reality, it was long enough for the peloton to cover 2km, hoving back into view with just 900m remaining.

Now, quite what went on in those intervening two kilometres we may never know. As the cameras cut away, Julian Alaphilippe was just ahead of Gianni Moscon, with Vasil Kiryenka attempting to bridge the 20-second gap from the peloton.

Eventually, when a rider did round the bend, it was not Alaphilippe in the lead, but Kiryenka – with a chasing peloton hot on his heels. A peloton that did in fact contain Peter Sagan.

Suspicious? Sure. It seems pretty clear to us that this 2km break in the footage was orchestrated to allow Sagan to jump back into the fray after taking the afternoon off.

Although we might not ever find out the truth, we can at least theorise about what might have happened in the intervening time between the last Sagan sighting at the start of the race and his eventual, inevitable victory. Here are our best working theories as to what he was up to.

  • Visiting one of Bergen’s many fine museums. Sagan is a real culture vulture and the St Jørgen Leprosy Museum is supposed to be especially good.
  • Dentist appointment. Man eats SO much Haribo he must have cavities.
  • Getting some laundry done – you wouldn’t believe how quickly a pair of white, rainbow-hooped socks will get dirty.
  • Flew to Innsbruck to do a recon of the 2018 World Champs course before flying back to win 2017 race.
  • How about something involving ninjas?

Whatever passed in those intervening hours, the World Champ was there when it mattered.

Rolling out the red carpet

For our money, the men’s individual time trial in Bergen served up more drama, intrigue and goats (more on that later) than all of the cumulative TT miles covered in the past two seasons.

A big reason for this was the introduction of a bloody great hill right at the end of the course, prompting some (but not all) of the riders to change bikes. Those who did choose to change their steeds had to do so on a specially designated bit of red carpet, laid out neatly over the cobbles of Bergen.

The resulting panicky switchovers provided us with a fantastic look at a phenomenon we like to call; People Who Are Very Good At One Thing Doing Something At Which They Are A Bit Rubbish. In this case, excellent bike riders waddling ‘on land’ in their cleated shoes and totally fudging their attempts to smoothly get onto a waiting road bike.

Here’s Alexey Lutsenko really living that philosophy as he singularly fails to begin riding the bike he has just changed onto, ostensibly with the intention of going faster.

…Lutsenk-oh no!

With the bike change seen as a pivotal moment, some riders, including Victor Campenaerts, who you may remember as the same scamp who proposed to a girl during the Giro ITT, even went so far as to practice making the bike switch.

And, while the bike change dynamic certainly added to the spectacle of the race, pundits were split over whether or not it should have been allowed.

What everyone did agree on, however, was that the inclusion of a liberal sprinkling of goats along the course, with a special goat shed placed at the finish of the ITT, really added to the enjoyment and spectacle.

We’re still not quite sure why the goats were there, but dammit, we say there should be goats at all future World Champs.

Indestructible Dolan

At the beginning of the week, British junior rider, Lauren Dolan, grabbed the headlines when she finished her ITT effort despite suffering some truly horrible injuries in a crash.

Dolan came home over two minutes down on the winning time, but the way her leg was looking, it’s frankly remarkable she finished at all. Indeed, Dolan had to spend her eighteenth birthday in hospital due to her injuries in Bergen.

Which prompted us to wonder, if a crash like that can’t stop her, what would stop Lauren Dolan? One of those nukes Kim-Jong Un has been cooking up? How about the power of Greyskull wielded by He-Man? Could the Incredible Hulk prevent the Indestructible Dolan from finishing a race? Possibly all the Jedis from Star Wars + one of the Transformers could do it, but they’d definitely know they’d been in a fight.

We say, chapeau, lass.


New Pid on the block

Worlds week also saw another chapter written in the remarkable story of Tom Pidcock. The British junior rider grabbed a set of rainbow bands for his barnstorming performance in the junior individual time trial and adds a second rainbow jersey to the one he already has for winning the junior cyclocross worlds earlier this year.

Tom Pidcock sports his second rainbow jersey of the year (Pic: Alex Whitehead/

This is to say nothing of his national and European ‘cross titles and national criterium title, and let’s not forget his Junior Paris-Roubaix win. At the rate young Tom is going, we’re half expecting to see him come on as a sub to score the winning goal for England U21s in their match next week.

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