American Tom Zirbel finished fourth at the World Championship time trial on Thursday in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He set the fastest times checks and topped the provisional leader board for much of the duration of the race until Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) led the top three into the finish.
"I wasn't expecting to get fourth," Zirbel told Cyclingnews. "I would have been all right with a top ten."
The 30-year-old started his run at 12:39 and quickly knocked off early leader Jean-Christophe Peraud (France). He finished with a time of one hour and 42 seconds, which held up as the fastest for the next three hours. He eventually finished 2:47 behind Cancellara, 1:20 behind Gustav Larsson (Sweden) and 17 seconds behind Tony Martin (Germany).
"I could have ended up 10th," said Zirbel. "Once the splits started coming in, I started to believe it was possible to get a medal. It is hard to think about it now - it's so fresh, but I will be happy with it."
Cancellara impressed Zirbel on his way to his third worlds win. He caught Larsson and Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) on his way to his win, and he had enough time to throw his hands up in celebration.
"He is on another planet," said Zirbel of the winner. "Second place would be a win in any other generation. That's how you have got to view it. We were all scrapping for second and third."
The fourth place at worlds ended Zirbel's season, and he is looking forward to resting at home. Next year he will take a step up, from a Continental squad to a ProTour team in Garmin-Slipstream. He will race along side David Millar, Wiggins and Tyler Farrar.
"I will learn as much as a can and help the team has much as I can. I think I will get results even being a donkey."