Mark Cavendish pipped to gold as Peter Sagan wins men’s world road race again

Doha 2016: Slovakian sprints to victory to earn second consecutive year in the rainbow jersey

Mark Cavendish was pipped to World Championship gold by reigning champion Peter Sagan, who guaranteed himself another year in the rainbow jersey by sprinting to victory from an elite front group.

The race split up in the desert winds before reaching the Pearl-Qatar finishing circuit, as many had hoped, with Cavendish getting in the front split with team-mate Adam Blythe for support.

But when it came to the final sprint, Cavendish sprinted on the busier left-hand side of the road while Sagan kicked on the right and, with open road before him, stormed to his second consecutive world title.

Tom Boonen claimed third for Belgium, meaning the podium consisted exclusively of former winners, but only one – Sagan – will be pulling on the rainbow bands in 2017.

It was the Belgians who had made the going tough in the crosswinds, with around 200km still to race, and as they put the hammer down several big names were caught out.

Echelons formed almost as soon as the winds whipped up, and with Boonen’s team-mates in control on the front, German duo Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel, France’s Nacer Bouhanni and Australia’s Caleb Ewan were all spat out of the back.

Cavendish had only Blythe for company, after Luke Rowe – the other Brit to make the split – punctured shortly after the group formed.

Amidst the chaos, Luke Durbridge (Australia) dropped a chain and was struck from behind, the incident also leading to Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) hitting the deck with what appeared to be a broken collarbone.

There was plenty of chasing behind, but the Belgians and Italians in particular worked well in the front group to maintain and even extend the gap as they hit the final circuit.

Only 53 riders remained in the race on the finishing circuit, with the remainder pulled out as they were behind the time cut – including five of the British team.

Belgian riders in the second group, including Jens Debusschere, helped slow the pace of the chase down and countered attacks by the Germans as it became apparent the winner would be found from the 26-strong front group.

All three men on the podium, Cavendish, Sagan and Boonen, have pulled on the rainbow jersey before (pic: Sirotti)

Both Niki Terpstra and Tom Leezer tried long-range attacks for the Dutch team – the latter only being caught with 500m to race – but the sprinters would not be denied their shoot-out for the gold medal.

Cavendish sat on Sagan’s wheel, but the Slovakian manoeuvred his way through a tight gap and into the open road on the right-hand side of the road.

With the Manxman sprinting instead on the busier left-hand side, he could not build the same momentum and, ultimately, had to settle for silver – banging his handlebars in frustration.

Boonen claimed the final podium spot ahead of Australia’s Michael Matthews and Italian Giacomo Nizzolo.

UCI Road World Championships 2016 – elite men’s road race: result

1) Peter Sagan – Slovakia – 5.40.43hrs
2) Mark Cavendish – Great Britain – ST
3) Tom Boonen – Belgium
4) Michael Matthews – Australia
5) Giacomo Nizzolo – Italy
6) Edvald Boasson Hagen – Norway
7) Alexander Kristoff – Norway
8) William Bonnet – France
9) Niki Terpstra – Netherlands
10) Greg van Avermaet – Belgium

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