Peter Sagan of Slovakia wins the 2015 UCI Road World Championship

Peter Sagan, of Slovakia, reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the men's elite road circuit race in the UCI Road World Championships cycling races in Richmond, Va., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Slovakian star Peter Sagan attacked with a mile left in the road world championships on Sunday, then grit his teeth and powered down Broad Street to capture the gold medal in a thrilling finish.

The popular Sagan built such a lead on silver medalist Michael Matthews of Australia and bronze medalist Ramunas Navardauskus of Lithuania that he rode hands-free across the line.

With a flourish, Sagan tossed his bike aside and thrust his arms into the air. He tossed his helmet into the crowd, then high-fived his biggest rivals as they joined him at the finish.

It was the first medal in the men’s road world championships for Slovakia.

The day’s breakaway formed shortly after riders departed from the University of Richmond and made their way toward downtown, where thousands of fans lined the 10-mile circuit.

Among those in the eight-man move was American rider Ben King, who was born in Richmond and still has home near Charlottesville. The Virginia Tech alum responded to the roars of the home crowd by leading the break up the cobbled climb of Libby Hill, ensuring the U.S. would be well-represented in the first world championships on home soil since 1986.

The break stayed away more than 4 hours before getting swept up.

A more dangerous break materialized with about two laps to go, and included favorites such as Belgian one-day specialist Tom Boonen, Italian sprinter Elia Viviani, Dutch strong man Bauke Mollema and Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski, the surprise world champion of a year ago.

Below is the list of the top 40 finishers in Sunday’s race:

That failed as well, and the peloton was back together for the final lap.

Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic was first to attack on Libby Hill, and John Degenkolb of Germany went with him. A long line of riders followed him, and Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium joined Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen in nailing bike the move.

Sagan, who hid safely in the peloton all day, finally made his push to the front. He raced past Van Avermaet, got into a time-trial tuck and sped downhill to open a gap. By the time he made the last left-hand turn onto the finishing straight, he was well clear of the field.

Plenty of time to sit up and take in the adulation of a crowd packed 10-deep along the course.

While the U.S. ultimately missed out on the podium in Sunday’s road race, it was nonetheless a successful home world championships – perhaps its most successful ever.

Megan Guarnier earned the Americans’ first medal in an elite race since 1994 when she captured bronze on Saturday. The U.S. also got two gold medals from Chloe Dygert and two silvers from Emma White in junior events, and another silver and bronze from men’s junior events.

U.S.-based BMC Racing also defended its team time trial gold to open the championships.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policyand Terms of Use.

Below is the list of the top 40 finishers in Sunday’s race:

List of the top 40 finishers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s