By Gregor Brown in Varese with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski
Svein Tuft was the day's surprise at the World Championships in Varese, Italy. The 31 year-old Canadian is relatively unknown in Europe, but his silver medal in the 43.7-kilometre time trial and fresh contract with Jonathan Vaughters Team Garmin Chipotle - H30 will change his status.
While the results show Tuft finished second behind Germany's Bert Grabsch by 42 seconds and nine seconds better than his new teammate, American David Zabriskie, but they do not reveal that he did so in spite of a flat tyre that forced him to a stop.
Tuft hit a hole and flatted his front tyre about six kilometres out from the finish. The following car did not have a time trial machine, but only a standard road bike. Tuft received a quick change and remained calm.
"It gave me enough of a scare to finish the finale as hard as I could," he said, but wasn't sure the incident cost him the gold medal. "You never know. We had a quick change. It was close, but I am happy with where I am at all the same."
A seventh place in the Olympic Games heralded his ascension in the world ranks after his 2007 UCI Americas Tour victory, but it was a third overall at Tour of Missouri which predicted a strong ride in Italy. "The Beijing Olympics was a big confidence builder. I then did Tour of Missouri, and I had a good ride there. It was a good motivator and I came here confident," Tuft said.