New world champion Thor Hushovd has started his very first race wearing the rainbow jersey at the Gran Piemonte race in northern Italy today. Hushovd also rode a special Cervelo rainbow-decorated bike.
The Norwegian sprinter had planned to end his season at the world championships in Australia but winning the world title changed all that.
“I was meant to have my holiday with my family, but when I won the world championship I was really proud, and I wanted to honour the jersey and so also race in 2010,” Hushovd told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Racing in Italy is special because of the history of cycling here and the pride Italy has for the rainbow jersey. So I’m doing this race and then the Lombardy, and then my season is over.”
Hushovd was the centre of attention at the start but insists the rainbow jersey will not change him.
"I am still the same person, I’ve just won a very important race. It is the attention that is surrounding me that has changed. People are now trying to drag me all over the place.”
Hushovd was given number 77 for Gran Piemonte, the same number he had for the road race world championships.
The Gran Piemonte started fast with 51,60km covered in the first hour of racing. Hushovd remained in the main peloton but former world champion Cadel Evans climbed off at the first feed station after 100km.
There will be a full report and a gallery of photographs immediately after the race here on Cyclingnews.