Bergen hosts Cycling Championships

Alexander Kristoff wins silver as Peter Sagan wins third consecutive World Road Race

Norwegian cyclists ride past Bryggen.

Photo: Bjørn Erik Nesse
Norwegians Kristoffer Skjerping and August Jensen cruise past Bryggen on the final day of the 2017 Cycling World Championship.

Jo Christian Weldingh
Oslo, Norway

Entering the last day of the World Championship in Bergen on September 24, the Norwegian Cycling Team had not performed up to their usual standards. The women’s races had been dominated by the Dutch, while the Norwegian juniors, who were predicted to fight for the victory in both the road race and the time trial, weren’t even close to placing on the podium. Norway’s last chance for a medal rested on the shoulders of Norwegian cycling stars Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff.

After more than 100 miles of cycling, the last event of the 2017 Cycling World Championship, the road race, ended in a mass sprint with Alexander Kristoff and Slovakian superman Peter Sagan battling it out for the win. To the dismay of the thousands of Norwegian spectators in Bergen who had turned up hoping for a Norwegian victory, Sagan ended up beating Kristoff by a couple of inches. Australian Michael Matthews came in third.

“I felt confident—maybe a bit too confident when I entered the last stretch. I felt I had the victory in my hands and was frustrated to see it slip away when Sagan passed me,” Kristoff told the press after the race. “It’s just the way it is. Sagan is one of the fastest cyclists out there and there’s no shame in losing to him.”

Kristoff was obviously disappointed in the press zone, but he praised Peter Sagan as a worthy world champion. “He told me he felt sorry for me, since we’re in Norway and all,” Kristoff said, smiling, “but that he couldn’t just let me win.”

Cyclists at the finish line.

Photo: Einar Kvalheim
Alexander Kristoff and Slovakian Peter Sagan were neck-in-neck at the finish line, with Sagan ahead by mere inches.

Sagan made history by being the first cyclist to win the World Championship three times in a row—an amazing feat. Kristoff, on the other hand, became the first rider ever to win a medal in the Olympics, the European Championship, and the World Championship. He is also the only rider to place in the top ten in four consecutive World Championships. “I think it’s pretty cool,” Kristoff commented. “Sagan still hasn’t won a medal in the Olympics, but I’m sure he will in the future.”

“I will remember the cheering crowds, the Norwegian flags, and maybe the fact that we lost the gold medal,” Kristoff said when asked about what he will remember best from the championship.

The other Norwegian favorite, Edvald Boasson Hagen, fell off the peloton 30 miles before the finish.

Kristoff’s silver medal, the only Norwegian medal, was a great finish to a great championship. Even though most Norwegians might have expected more medals, the World Championship in Bergen was a success and a great showcase for the city of Bergen and Norway in general.

The championship became the celebration everyone had hoped for. The main event had more than 100,000 spectators just in the city center. That’s in addition to the thousands of people who stood by the road cheering. No matter your age, gender, political views, or social status, if you were in Bergen during the championship, you had one thing on your mind: cycling.

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, but is currently living in Oslo. He has a BA in Archaeology from The University of Oslo and a BA in Business Administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 6, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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