An estimated 100,000 fans on the streets of Bergen cheered loudly, but Norway’s Alexander Kristoff was irritated that he didn’t win the cycling world championship race on home pavement on Sunday. Kristoff placed second to Peter Sagan of Slovakia after what’s been called one of the closest races of all time.
“I’m both glad and disappointed,” Kristoff told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Sunday afternoon. “It’s the gold that’s remembered, even though silver is a good result for Norway. Winning the gold would have been somthing else.”
Michael Matthews of Australia won the bronze after a race that also will be remembered for the cheering, singing, shouting, flag-waving fans on the sidelines who once again dressed for the occasion in a variety of national colours and costumes. Sagan himself told reporters he’d already heard about the wild crowds in Bergen while still recovering from illness at home in Monaco. He’d expected it would be “crazy,” and it was.
Norway’s other medal hope, Edvald Boasson Hagen, ended up 31st but was glad Norway won the silver. Organizers were also glad and declared the cycling world championships a success even though the week-long even failed to attract crowds of visitors expected.
Bergen’s tourism industry had hoped for a 10 percent increase in the number of visitors in September last year, but NRK reported the rise was just 1.6 percent. Hotels had empty rooms and there were also many available parking places for camping vans.
“Compared to the same week last year, we’re still a bit above that and prices were higher,” tourism director Ole Warberg to NRK. “We’re satisfied with that.”