Tadej Pogačar (UAE Staff Emirates) has taken a solo victory within the ninth version of the Saitama Criterium in Japan, narrowly warding off Vuelta a España champion Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) in a drawn-out two-up dash.
Peter Sagan (Legends Staff), who retires from street racing this season, claimed the ultimate podium spot within the 59.5-kilometre, 17-lap, metropolis centre exhibition occasion.
The criterium got here all the way down to a three-way battle between Kuss, Pogačar and Sagan after the trio constructed up a lead within the closing kilometres.
Sagan light, thus permitting Kuss to guide Pogačar underneath the flamme rouge, previous to a drawn-out two-up duel because the end line approached.
As the 2 handed by means of a brief tunnel, Pogačar eased into the ahead place, offering an opportunity for Kuss to attempt to launch a shock assault, which the Slovenian promptly crushed.
By this level, Sagan was threatening to regain contact, and Pogačar then made a drawn-out sprint for the road, considerably various his tempo however in the end permitting him to assert the victory a number of bike lengths forward of Kuss.
Sagan retained his third place whilst a crumbling essential pack, spearheaded by Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) closed in on the Slovak star.
The star-studded 51-rider area for the criterium in Saitama, a metropolis some 30 kilometres outdoors Japanese capital Tokyo, additionally included Tour de France winners Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) together with 2023 Tour de France King of the Mountains Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek).
Third within the Singapore Criterium final week, Pogačar succeeds Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) as reigning Saitama Champion, concurrently claiming his umpteenth triumph of the 2023 season within the course of.