Great Britain Cycling Team’s Mark Cavendish won silver after finishing behind Peter Sagan in a sprint finish as he was edged out of a second UCI Road World Championships title in Qatar.
The Manxman, winner in 2011 in Copenhagen, was narrowly beaten by Sagan as he got caught behind Australian Michael Matthews in a reduced bunch sprint.
Cavendish, 31, was on Sagan’s wheel in the closing kilometres of the Pearl Qatar circuit and when the Slovakian went left in the final 100m, Cavendish moved right and was forced to ride around Matthews as he pushed for the line.
“I’m disappointed, I feel like I lost gold rather than I won silver but that’s how it is,” Cavendish said.
“I wanted to be on Sagan’s wheel and I was then all of a sudden the road was blocked. I tried to find a way through and with less than a 100m to go I kind of had to stop pedalling and go round, I think, Michael Matthews and then it was too late. I got back on Boonen but it was too late to get back on Sagan.”
Cavendish and Adam Blythe were the only British riders of the nine-man squad in the front group after crosswinds in the Qatar desert broke the 257.5km race into pieces after just 70km.
Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas both punctured at the vital point as within minutes multiple echelons had formed on the way to the Pearl Qatar island circuit.
Steve Cummings, Dan McLay and Ian Stannard also missed the front group, whilst Ben Swift and Scott Thwaites were left in the first chasing group.
But they would not see the front again as the lead bunch of 26 riders stayed away for the remaining 180km, with Belgium having the strength in numbers.
No attacks came from the select group until the final lap of seven on the Pearl Qatar circuit, Dutch rider Tom Leezer making a last gasp solo bid within the final 1500m.
As he was caught inside the final 500m, Cavendish latched on to Sagan’s wheel for the sprint but there was not to be a second rainbow jersey on the road for the Briton.