• The atmosphere for both women and men's events was electric in Bergen. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The outcome for the elite men and women at the road world championships could not have been more different, yet Anthony Tan is assured of one thing: they're both as good to watch, and deserve equal billing.
Cycling Central
25 Sep 2017 - 3:01 PM  UPDATED 25 Sep 2017 - 3:02 PM

'Who needs team-mates when you're Peter Sagan?'

Commentator Matthew Keenan pretty much summed up the six-and-a-half hour elite men's road race in under five seconds.

The winner, Peter Sagan of Slovakia, spent all of 50 metres of the 267.5 kilometre epic in the wind.

That's 0.0018691589 per cent of the race.

Okay, the final lap was on like Donkey Kong, but if you only saw one race at this year's road world championships in Norway and it was the elite men Sunday, unless you were among the boisterous beer-imbibed throng in Bergen, you probably walked away from your television set disappointed.

Professional women's road racing has become no less compelling to watch than the men. The issue now relates to quantity, not the quality, of viewing.

If the same thing happened in the elite women's event, a ton of pundits would've said something along the lines of, 'Typically negative women's racing - all the big hitters getting their teams to control the race, saving their energy till the end before the inevitable sprint.'

Of course, that's not how things played out Saturday. It was, by all accounts, a cracking race, albeit exasperated as I was at the tactics of those non-Dutchwomen in the first chase group behind lone escapee Chantal Blaak (Netherlands), the eventual winner.

Tan Lines: Prepared to lose?
Did she lose first place or win silver? After what he felt was a rainbow opportunity gone begging in Bergen, that's a question Anthony Tan's still asking himself.
Aussie Garfoot nabs silver in worlds road race
Australia's Katrin Garfoot added a silver medal to her individual time-trial bronze at the UCI Road World Championships, beaten home in the road race by Chantal Blaak (Netherlands), who survived a mid-race crash to pull on the coveted rainbow jersey.

For me, the elite men's race played out like a typical edition of Milan-San Remo. There was the obligatory, but ultimately doomed, early escape; there was enough teams wishing to keep things together till the final, which put paid to a second, more serious breakaway that formed three-and-a-half laps from the finish; on the penultimate lap, there was balking by the favourites, with no-one bar time trial champ Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) willing to give it a red hot go; and then there was the final ascent of Salmon Hill, reminiscent of the Poggio di Sanremo, with Julian Alaphilippe (France) and Gianni 'sticky bottle' Moscon (Italy) doing their best to thwart a bunch sprint finish.

Had the line been 5.4 kilometres from the top of Salmon Hill, as it was in this year's M-SR, and not 10.6 kilometres as it was Sunday, Alaphilippe and Moscon would have fought out the rainbow jersey. But for the former it was just over a kilometre too far, caught before the flamme rouge.

A worlds three-peat for Sagan with Matthews third
Peter Sagan stayed quiet all day before timing his effort to perfection in the final sprint to become the first rider to claim three road race world championship titles in a row on Sunday.

I think it shows a number of things.

One, particularly in the last four to five years, the women's peloton has become richer with talent. On any given course, on their day, any one of a good handful of riders can win. Second, and a consequence of the first, is that professional women's road racing has become no less compelling to watch than the men. The issue now relates to quantity, not the quality, of viewing - which newly elected UCI president, David Lappartient of France, says he intends to facilitate. Third, no matter the gender, the depth of field, or the course, sometimes a race just isn't as exciting as you expect it to be, or the excitement happens after a six-hour siesta, as was the case with the elite men's road race.

Therein lies the beauty of bike racing: sometimes it's predictable, other times not. In the end, it is the actors that determine the way the script unfolds, and when the crescendo and denouement occurs. It's the way it always has been, and the way it always will be.