It is one of cycling’s much-loved idiosyncrasies – a race of sometimes more than 200km decided in the final few hundred metres.
But even when the day’s escape is clearly doomed, and the sprint finish has become inevitable, it still becomes an unmissable drama.
The chaos as sprint trains jostle for position at the head of the pack, the flurry of riders in an array of team colours going wheel-to-wheel in search of glory – sport has few more intoxicating sights.
Yet on the inside, what appears to be a chaotic tangle of riders is an intense tactical battle for supremacy, both by teams and individuals.
There was high drama aplenty in the races of this year’s WorldTour, as the fastmen of cycling’s top tier went head-to-head.
We’ve rounded up ten of the best from 2013 over the following pages. Would you have chosen the same?