Alejandro Valverde wins the 2018 UCI World Championships Men's Elite Road Race

Valverde out-sprinted Romain Bardet (France), Michael Woods (Canada) and Tom Dumoulin, in one of the toughest World Championships courses devised

15 months after a compound leg and ankle fracture in a brutal crash against a barrier on stage one of the 2017 Tour de France, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) wrote the most beautiful page in his legendary career as a pro cyclist 

Alejandro Valverde wins the 2018 UCI World Championships Men's Elite Road Race

With 22 kms to go, it looks as if the winning move by Michael Valgren was established after the remaining two break away leaders were caught.

Behind a very reduced peloton counter attacked and saw many favorites abandon, including the likes of Sagan, Kwaitkowski and Yates.

It was Valverde, Bardet and Woods who distanced everyone and went on to chase Valgren on the penultimate climb. Behind them Dumoulin came from nowhere to overhaul Moscon and try to catch the three leaders while Moscon, Allaphilippe and Pinot faded.

Valgren pressed on, on the flat and soloed to the bottom of the infamous Hell climb with gradients of 28%. He was caught near the top with just 6 kms to go.

Valverde, Bardet and Woods pressed on, with Bardet launching an attack not wanting to contest a final sprint.

Behind, Dumoulin slowly hauled the three leaders back at the foot of the final descent with just 2 kms to go.

Dumoulin tried to attack, but lacked enough power after his epic chase.

Valverde led out the sprint with Bardet, Woods and Dumoulin in his slipstream.

But none of the trio of his rivals could come round Valverde, who finally won gold after medalling 6 times previously at the World Championships.

VIDEO: 2018 UCI World Championships Men's Elite Road Race Highlights

A stunned Alejandro Valverde said: "I can't believe it. I just can't. It's been so many years fighting for it, and we finally made it. It's my biggest pro victory. One that I've fought hard to achieve for all these years. Something I've been chasing for during my entire career. I've been so close, so many times, six medals yet no golds. I even thought I would never become world champion. I didn't get obsessed about it anymore. I always went to the World Championships with an aim to do well, but knowing it was too hard to win, even more so when you're one of the top favourites. I had almost surrendered to that fact, but it all turned out well today. I had a superb day, we reaced really well, the weather conditions helped much - and I could make that dream finally become true. I think about my family, and all those who love what I do and always support me - this goes to them, to everybody who is happy, even many rivals who came to congratulate me after the finish. This goes to all of you."

Something I've been chasing for during my entire career. I've been so close, so many times, six medals yet no golds.

"Above them all, I want to thank my Spanish national team-mates, for their outstanding job. They made me remain so calm, all of them working hard for this success. I think the training camp we held in Sierra Nevada last week helped us much. We were able to build strong bonds, become a real family, and that had an impact on the race's events. Everyone remained really focused at all points of the race. My job was 'just' to be there at the right moment, seeking for the distance where I had to launch my moves, go for the sprint and win. The rest, they did it for me. I knew I couldn't disappoint them, I had to give my all for the team.

"It was a really long sprint, where I had to take on full responsibility. I kept checking my rivals's reactions and the finishing banners until, with 350 meters to go, I thought: 'Now! I attack and don't wait for anyone else.' I was looking at them from below my saddle, seeing they remained closed but not able to overtake me. After that, the emotions, the feelings, were something I won't ever forget.

"I'm so proud of wearing this jersey for the next twelve months. I've been at other World Championships where a team-mate won and I enjoyed it, but taking it yourself is just special. Sagan told me he was really happy about my victory - that if it wasn't him who stayed in the rainbow jersey, he'd like me to take the baton as World Champion. There's some time left for me before retiring, but with such a victory, I can already leave this sport happy (smiles). Everything which comes after this is a plus. Everything after the crash was already a plus. I had through my career was over at Düsseldorf. Coming back, winning 14 races, becoming World Champion - it's a big joy."

2018 UCI World Championships Elite Mens Road Race Top 10

1 Alejandro Valeverde (Spain) 6:46:41 
2 Romain Bardet (France)   
3 Michael Woods (Canada)   
4 Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)   
5 Gianni Moscon (Italy) 0:00:13 
6 Romain Kreuziger (Czech Republic) 0:00:43 
7 Michael Valgren (Denmark)   
8 Julian Alaphilippe (France)   
9 Thibaut Pinot (France)   
10 Rui Costa (Portugal)  

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