Slovakian claims rainbow jersey after break on final climb

Peter Sagan launched a brilliant solo attack 2.5km from home to claim the rainbow jersey with victory in the UCI men’s world championship road race in Richmond, Virginia.

The Slovakian sprang off the front of the pack on the short final climb and quickly built a healthy gap. He was able to ease up and enjoy the moment as he crossed the line comfortably clear of Australia’s Michael Matthews in second and Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania in third.

Sagan has had an often difficult season since signing a big-money deal with the Tinkoff-Saxo team; he was criticised for his early performances by the team owner, Oleg Tinkov, endured a string of second-placed finishes in the Tour de France and was knocked out of the Vuelta a España by a motorbike.

But the man synonymous with the Tour’s green (points) jersey he has won four years in a row will now don the rainbow stripes after a thrilling display.

“I think this is my biggest victory and I am very happy because I made a lot of sacrifices these last three weeks after the Vuelta,” he said in a post-race interview broadcast on Eurosport. “I am very happy for this moment.”

The defending champion Michal Kwiatkowski, confirmed this weekend as a Team Sky signing for 2016, came home in eighth place while his new team-mate Ben Swift was the highest British finisher in 22nd.

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