Peter Sagan was prepared to risk serious injury in the sprint for the line as he retained his Road World Championships title in Doha.
The Slovakian demonstrated his awesome speed in a bunch finish as he edged Mark Cavendish into second, but he conceded to being braced for a very different outcome.
Having executed a brilliant tactical plan throughout the 257.5-kilometre race, Sagan was in no mood to let his title slip and would have crashed had Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo tried to cut across his line.
"I don't believe it. I'm still in shock," he said.
"I'm very happy because there was crosswind and I was the last one to make the first group. In the end it was a sprint.
"There was a bit of a headwind so I felt I needed to come from the back. I felt I was lucky because Nizzolo didn't close me out. If he closed me out for sure we would have crashed because I wasn't going to brake.
"We should have crashed, but I'm happy. It's unbelievable."
Cavendish, who looked frustrated as he crossed the line, was downbeat.
"I am just disappointed. I messed up tactically," the Briton, who won the event in 2011, told BBC Sport.
"I came with so much speed and power. I wanted to be on Peter's wheel. I knew the Norwegians would hit out early into the headwind and I knew Sagan would just get the right wheel and I could float off him.
"I told Adam [Blythe] to come with a few hundred metres to go and when he came alongside, it spread everyone and everyone jumped and I had nowhere to go.
"The hard thing was losing Luke Rowe to a puncture which would have given us three in the front and he would have been valuable at the end.
"I am just going to have to settle for another second this year."