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Sagan and Dideriksen victorious in Doha 2016

George Wallis-Ryder
17 Oct 2016

Two bunch sprints results in the Slovak and Dane earning rainbow stripes in the Qatari desert.

Both the men’s and women’s elite races came down to a bunch sprint, with Peter Sagan and Amalie Dideriksen emerging as the 2016 World Champions. 

Women’s Elite Race 

Saturday’s women’s event saw a strong Dutch team animate the race with numerous attacks, before moving the team to the front of the peloton into the final kilometres. Amber Neben, the newly crowned Individual Time Trial champion, launched a late solo break that looked like securing double rainbow bands for the American, if only for a moment. It was not to be however, as defending champion Lizzie Deignan, and the Great Britain team, worked with the Australians and the Dutch to pull back the 50-second deficit. 

Coming into the final kilometre, the Dutch team formed one of the most impressive sprint trains in years, with Annemiek van Vleuten, Olympic Champion Anna van der Breggen and three-times world champion Marianne Vos leading out Kristen Wild. Dideriksen held the Dutch wheel and when only Wild remained, came around the left side of the pre-race favourite to snatch victory. GB’s Lizzie Deignan was fourth over the line but first to congratulate the new world champion.

‘I dreamed of this. But today I had such good teammates, who even brought me back too after a crash. I chose Wild's wheel in the sprint. Winning here is a surprise for me too,’ said Amalie Dideriksen after winning the World Championship.

Men’s Elite Race

For all the talk of the desert heat, the men’s elite race was defined early on by crosswinds, allowing a final group of just 26 to contest a sprint finish in which Peter Sagan came out on top.

With 75km raced, strong winds sparked the Belgian team into action, tearing the peloton apart as they headed back towards Doha. Perhaps the biggest victims of the split were Germany and France, with Greipel, Kittel, Bouhanni and Démare all failing to make the break. Belgium held the strongest position, with six riders in the front group, along with three Italians and three Norwegians. Mark Cavendish and Adam Blythe were the only British riders left to contest the finale after Luke Rowe punctured, along with Peter Sagan and Michal Kolar for company.

Within the last five kilometres, the final solo attempts at victory began, as Niki Terpstra made a move only to have it quickly shut down by Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet. It looked like the bunch was content with a sprint finish, however Dutch rider Tom Leezer had other ideas, sprinting out of a corner and quickly opening up a five-second gap as he passed the Flamme Rouge. The group stalled as Belgum, Norway and Italy were seemingly unwilling to sacrifice leadout men to chase down the Dutchman, but once GVA took to the front it became clear that Leezer’s attempt would be in vain.

Tom Boonen, a pre-race favourite, was one of the first to open up his sprint with 300 metres to go, surging past both of the remaining Italians. Mark Cavendish had spent much of the race sat on Peter Sagan’s wheel and stayed glued to it as teammate Adam Blythe began his leadout. The Manxman became unstuck however as he and Sagan took different paths around Italian Jacopo Guarnieri. Cavendish momentarily lost speed as he became stuck behind Michael Matthews, which was enough to hand Sagan the victory.

Sagan finished almost a bike length ahead of second place Cavendish, who was left banging his handlebars in frustration, before congratulating the victor. Sagan becomes the first rider since Paolo Bettini in 2007 to defend the rainbow jersey, and only the sixth man ever to do so. Boonen rounded out the podium, making it the first time a World Championship podium has been made up entirely of ex World Champions. 

Sagan said after the race, ‘I'm very happy because there was a crosswind and I was the last one to make the first group...I don't believe it. I'm still in shock.’

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