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UCI Road World Championships 2010: Elite Men road race

Welcome back to Geelong, Australia for the final day of racing at the 2010 UCI Road World Championships. As it did for yesterday’s Elite women’s road race, the area has thrown another pearler of a day with the Elite men’s peloton to roll out under clear skies and little to no wind.

Today will see the crowning of the last road world champion for 2010 and everyone’s still undecided as to whether a group or solo rider will stay away or if it will come down to a bunch sprint as the U23 and Elite women’s races did. So buckle up, enjoy the ride and remember you can contact the commentator at cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com throughout the coverage.

So here we are again folks, this time for the main event: the Elite men's road race. We're about 15 minutes away from the start of today's race, which occurs in Geelong's neighbouring city and capital of Victoria Melbourne. The peloton will leave Melbourne and head 83 kilometres down the highway toward Geelong, where it will enter the 15.9 kilometre finishing circuit for the first time.

Once on the finishing circuit the Elite men will contest 11 laps of the circuit, after which a new world champion will be crowned.

The outgoing world champion - Cadel Evans - and his Australian squad have just signed on at Melbourne's Federation square.

We have some 178 riders on the start line for today's race and we're now inside 10 minutes from the start.

There's a healthy crowd on the start line today and it looks like we've got Pat McQuaid and Phil Anderson getting the race started today.

The flag has been dropped and the Australian team is leading the race out of Federation Square.

Unfotunately our first official timing point isn't until the peloton reaches the finishing circuit in 83 kilometres time, but hopefully big Jim on the back of the timing motorbike will be able to feed us some information as we head over the Westgate Bridge and down the highway.

The peloton has had a few issues negotiating a median strip, with some going around and others going over, but it looks like they’re all around it okay.

The peloton is now off the city roads and up on the highway as Stuart O'Grady and Phillipe Gilbert have a chat at the front of the group.

We’re still in the neutral zone at the moment, which is why there’s a motorbike pretty much in the middle of the peloton. Shouldn’t be long before we cross the official race start.

Meanwhile there’s hundreds of people – nearly all wearing Mapei kit – riding the finishing circuit in Geelong at the moment. Fans have been given a chance to ride the course this morning as the roads have been closed all day – one rider out there is Australian professional Rochelle Gilmore who didn’t contest yesterday’s women’s road race but will instead represent the country at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India in a few weeks time.

Speaking of Stuart O'Grady, he clearly likes the Australian team's hopes here today: “I think we’ve got together probably the strongest team we’ve had for a long time, the guys are motivated, I think we’ve pretty much got all bases covered.

“We know it’s tough and we know it’s going to suit a powerful tough rider so hopefully that’ll be one of us.”

The peloton has been let loose at the base of the Westgate Bridge and we're away and racing.

Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) is one ot the first to attack the peloton on the climb up the bridge.

He's chasing an attack by Matthew Brammeier (Ireland).

Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) has attacked the peloton too with another rider. The peloton has slowed a little - it looks like it's happy to let these four riders go.

Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine) is our fourth rider out front. The group is working well together, swapping off turns and trying to put some time between themselves and the peloton.

So we have a lead group containing Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela), which was setup by the Irishman, now that we're off the Westgate Bridge.

Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) has lobbed an attack at the peloton. He's trying to get across to the leading quartet.

Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco) snuck over to the lead group on the way down the other side of the Westgate Bridge - we missed him at first.

So our five riders in the lead are Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela). The peloton will monitor their lead but we should see these guys given a margin at least until we're a little closer to Geelong and the first time up the finishing circuit's climb.

Don't forget you can contact the commentator with race predictions, comments or berocca at cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com throughout today's coverage. You guys are part of what we do here too!

Back in the peloton we've got the Italians looking after things at the front of the peloton while further back outgoing world champion Cadel Evans is enjoying a chat with Tyler Farrar.

A couple of riders back in the peloton are taking a moment to do their business on the freshly trimmed grass alongside the highway. Melbourne and Geelong’s councils had an army of people out preparing the highway earlier this week for today’s race – it’s probably never looked this good before.

Our five leaders have about four minutes lead at the moment, while our one man in the middle is about 1:26 down on the leaders.

The leader's lead just keeps on truckin'. It's out to 5:51 minutes, while they're also gaining time on the solo man Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) who is now at 1:54 minutes.

Someone has corrected me - Cadel Evans is the outgoing champion but he could of course he is in today's field and could repeat, meaning he would be both the outgoing and incoming champion. Nice save.

And it's Evans' teammates doing the work at the front of the peloton at the moment. There's four riders - including Michael Rogers and Allan Davis - setting the pace, which isn't very high.

The Aussie team needs to make sure it doesn't take too much responsibility in today's race as the women's team seemed to yesterday. That didn't work for the women and hopefully the men have learnt from that mistake.

Daniel Oss is hoping to play an important role in the Italian team at his first world championships today.

"Yes for me it's my first world championships, so it's important to get experience for the uture, I hope to race a good race."

"I think the Belgians, [and] the Spanish, are very dangerous."

We're still rolling down the highway and unfortunately at this point we don't have any indication of just how many kilometres the break has covered.

The situation now is Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) are in the lead by 3:28 minutes over Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) while the peloton has dropped back to 10:30 minutes.

235km remaining from 262km

The peloton - which is now under Spanish watch - is letting these guys slide away. They've given away another two minutes now, putting the lead out to 12:30 minutes.

The leaders have jumped off the highway now and it's all backroads from here. That puts the race at about the Hoppers Crossing which is 27.3 kilometres in.

Leaders are out to 13:20 minutes now as Nicolas Roche sits at the front of a slow-moving peloton.

Matthew Goss will be an Aussie option if the race comes down to a smaller group and he's looking forward to such a situation occuring:

“I’ve come out of the Vuelta pretty well, I’ve recovered well, we’ve done some good training, everything’s been as best it can be, so for me we just have got to wait till tomorrow and see and if there’s twenty to thirty guys, and hopefully I can be there and if I am hopefully I can cause a real stir.”

Our five leaders Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) are on more regional roads now. As they pass a freight train the five are still working together but not putting in the effort they originally wore - there's no need to as the peloton has given them plenty to work with.

As I said: plenty to work with. The GPS is telling us the gap is out to nearly 16 minutes now.

Seems the peloton - a bit like myself - is missing that hour's sleep we were robbed of this morning thanks to daylight savings.

Time for some trivia: Does anyone know what the largest margin a break has been given and has been successfully pulled back?

Drop me an e-mail at cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

It's almost a shame that mother nature has blessed us with a gorgeous day today. There was plenty of talk ahead of today's race that gusty conditions down the stretch from Melbourne to Geelong could turn things on its head, but it's dead still out there.

Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) is looking like a lost little puppy dog at the moment. He's rolling along, enjoying the sunshine, having a chat to the local cameramen on a motorbike, but his attempt to bridge after the bridge has failed and he's five minutes behind the leading five.

Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) has decided to lift his pace and he's out of the saddle putting the power down along these long, straight, flat roads that will take us to the finish circuit in Geelong. Not sure his efforts are worthwhile at this point - he's six minutes down and there's nothing to be gained by catching the break at this point, unless he believes the move will stay away...in which case he's almost certainly incorrect.

215km remaining from 262km

It looks like the lead group has just cornered from Edgars Rd on to You Yangs Rd which puts them at around kilometre 46.8 - or a little more than half way to the Geelong finish circuit. They still hold a six minute lead over the lone chaser and more than 15 on the peloton.

The peloton's pace has lifted a little at this point. It won't let the margin get any bigger by the looks.

They've also strung out a lot more but that's by virtue of narrower roads more than an increase in pace.

The gap is edging out to dangeours territory - sitting at about 20 minutes now. The Under 23 men completed their first lap in just under 24 minutes on Friday.

The UCI can pull groups that are a lap down if it contains less than 20 riders.

Obviously the UCI won't pull the entire peloton and make it a six man race (or would they?) but it sure would make things interesting if the peloton reaches this afternoon's 15.9 kilometre circuit a lap down.

Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) have picked up the pace once more and are swapping off turns a little more like we saw when they first got away.

Seems they like the idea of starting their 10th lap on the finishing circuit while the peloton reaches it with 11 to do.

If you applied the current positioning of peloton and leaders to the finishing circuit, the peloton would be a lap down. That's right, our five men out front have driven that gap to about 23:30 minutes.

There's no race radios being used at the world championships this year either, and that could prove to be useful for the men out front.

Of course, it could make everything an absolute mess once we reach the finish circuit too!

The Americans have about four riders at the front of the peloton at the moment, yet they're still not pushing up that pace.

This could be a perfect course for someone like Tyler Farrar. Remember how strong he was in the Gent Wevelgem, almost holding the lead group that included the likes of Philippe Gilbert. It was a sound performance for the Garmin rider. This course could be perfect for him if, if it comes down to a sprint of around 20, 30 riders. With nine riders the US also have one of the strongest teams.

We've had a fall back in the peloton with Karsten Kroon (Netherlands) going down with at least one fellow Dutch rider and Anthony Geslin (France). They all look okay - just a low-speed crash as the peloton squeezed around a 90 degree corner.

Frederik Willems (Belgium) has moved ahead of the USA riders at the front of the peloton and he seems to be pushing the pace a little higher, trying to bring this gap back in.

Andreas has asked: What happens if the break completes a lap before the peloton enters the circuit?

In theory nothing - so long as the peloton is still together. Of course, those in the peloton interested in winning still need to take that lap back. The problem could come as the peloton breaks up into smaller groups behind as the chase to get back on the lead lap begins. In theory any group smaller than 20 riders can be pulled while still a lap down. Hopefully the UCI officials would be sensible and not pull the lead chase group of less than 20 riders - because that would spoil an interesting fight.

Our leaders are being held at around 23:30 minutes - it seems the efforts of the Belgian and USA teams is making sure that gap doesn't grow any bigger. They'll need to increase the pace further soon though if they want to stay on the lead lap.

Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) must have forgot his wallet this morning - he tried pretty hard to take a wrong turn at an intersection while the other four leaders headed off in a different, but correct, direction.

David Zabriskie (United States of America) has taken over from the Belgian now and is setting the chase pace.

Derek has asked: If the breakaway makes it to the finishing circuit over a lap ahead, would they be allowed to drop back into the peloton and erase their aerodynamic disadvantage?

No. they have to keep them apart, it's not like a track race or US criterium.

Got a question, comment or bribe? Keep me company at cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com

182km remaining from 262km

The breakaway riders Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) are on the outskirts of Geelong. Lets call it about 80 kilometres into the race and just a few short kilometres away from starting their first lap.

179km remaining from 262km

Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) are on the circuit now and have started their first lap. That's 83 kilometres down in about 1:47 hours.

So at the first timing point - the start of the first of 11 laps - the leaders still have 23 minutes on the peloton.

This is how it looks:

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)
2 Esad Hasanovic (Serbia)
3 Peloton 23 minutes

The squadra azzuri will race for Franco Ballerini today. He totally turned around the squad's fortunes in 2002. He took over in 2001 and was let down by a number of riders, saying "I put my faith in certain riders and they let me down."

The next year he added discipline and steel to a fragmented bunch of stars who wouldn't work for each other. The result? Cipo won and ended a 12 year drought.

Bettini, a winner on similar circuits in 2006 and 2007 has followed in Ballerini's footsteps. He's picked a well-drilled team, with every rider having a particular role. You can bet they'll stick to it.

Our leaders are about to hit the first climb for the first time and yet out solo man and the peloton still haven't reached the finishing circuit.

Andrew Pinfold - a professional out of the US - thinks a man in this break could get the job done today: Jackson Rodriguez could be the next world champ. Raced him last year at the Tour of Mexico and he was unstopable. One day winning bunch sprints (much to my disapointment) the next taking the mountains by storm. The group should not have given him 20+ minutes.

The leaders have pulled the margin down to 22:24 minutes. It's not much of a dint, but it could be enough to keep the peloton on the lead lap.

Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) has crossed the start/finish line to start his first lap 10:45 minutes behind the leaders.

174km remaining from 262km

The leaders have crested the first climb for the first time and are now on the fast descent. They're 88 kilometres into the race with 168 remaining.

Dave has asked: We must know. Is DZ rockin' the stash for the race?

No, he's not Dave. DZ was hunting for speed in the time trial on Thursday. He didn't find enough of it, but would have found less had he been sporting the 'stash.

Perhaps the most drilled team will be the Belgians. Most of their clan come from the Lotto team but the entire squad will work for Gilbert today. Aerts is on the front now. It's a bit of a surprise to see a rider of his quality doing so much work so early on in the race. Meanwhile the leaders are doing 68kph on the descent.

The leaders are climbing on the second climb and you've got to lend some weight to Pinfold's comments. Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) is climbing without effort on this course, while some of his fellow break riders are clearly not as strong.

The peloton is within two kilometres of the finish line now - so they will start the finishing course on the lead lap but probably not by much.

The peloton has crossed the start/finish line on the lead lap but still 21:31 minutes down on the leaders.

This is the situation with everyone now on the first of 11 laps of the 15.9km circuit:

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) 82 kilometres in 1:47:07
2 Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) @ 10:45 minutes
3 Peloton 21:31 minutes

My keen eye is saying the leaders are only about two kilometres behind the peloton at this point.

The bunch are starting to react now. Typical really with the peloton hitting the finish circuit. The Spanish move their Armada to the front in order to protect their two leaders.

Meanwhile the leaders are starting to flag, missing turns.

Our chase rider Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) held his exact margin at the top of the climb, he was 10:45 minutes behind the leaders there, as he was when he crossed the finish line to start his first lap.

It seems now would be a bad time to have something go wrong in the peloton. The team cars have been pulled and put in behind the leaders, as the gap between the groups isn't large enough.

Rodriguez is really showing his class now. He led the five over the finishline after one lap and has gone back down the line to encourage the other riders. He'll want to stay out for as long as possible today and has a good pedigree, having raced Grand Tours. He looks the strongest in the break at the moment.

The peloton is on the climb for the first time and have come over the top 20:40 minutes behind the leaders. There's a considerable amount of people lining the climb to watch today, compared to some of the numbers we've seen this week.

Some nice tricks from the sprinters going on right now as they hit the climb. A few of them are near the front of the bunch. They'll sit there and gently slide back down the field as they climb. One thing they don’t want to do is hit the climb at the back of the field. There's a big difference in quality between some of the riders at the Worlds and they won’t want to be caught at the back of the field if things split.

Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) went over the top in 75th place.

Svein Tuft (Canada) is leading on the descent and clocking about 86km/h as the leaders reach the climb just behind them.

Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco) is having a hard time keeping with the lead group on the climb. He had fallen back, but he's just hanging in there this time. He might not be so lucky next time.

Carlos José Ochoa (Venezuela) has pulled out of the race and is seeking medical help.

Tuft's speed on the down hill shows a big difference between the chase and the leaders, who are doing just 60km/h on the descent.

The leaders climbing now, and what's interesting is that some are waiting for each other. The Ukranian looks strong but he's wasting energy. Jackson R is smart. He's climbing at a good but not crazy tempo and waiting for the other riders so that they can then stay together and work on the flat.

The peloton is rounding on to the start/finish straight to complete its first lap, but Jim on the race motorbike says the gap is still 20:42 minutes.

The leaders have rounded on to the start/finish line and are missing a man. The Morrocan has dropped out of the group is would seem.

148km remaining from 262km

The leaders have completed two full laps now, putting them 114km into the race. This is how the race looks:

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)
2 Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) @ 10:45 minutes
3 Peloton 20:41 minutes

Todd has asked: Do national teams ride bikes from the same manufacturer or do they ride their team bikes?

Particularly in the elite men's race - where many have commitments to certain manufacturers - they ride their team bikes.

Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) has seen Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco) out on the climb as the Morocco rider bows out of the lead group and it may even be race over, depending on how he can recover over the coming lap.

Frederik Willems (Belgium) has had a teammate or two join him in setting the pace in the peloton. The speed has picked up ever so slightly once more.

In fact the Belgian's pressure is being felt by the field. There's a clear split in the field on the climb. They should be able to stay with them this time around but it's an indication of things to come.

Simon Gerrans (Australia) is riding on the wheels of the Belgian and Spanish riders near the front.

A group of about 25 riders has gone clear after the climb, but they're not powering down the descent. Instead it looks like they're waiting for at least the smaller group behind to join back on.

The peloton seems to have come back together at the base of the second climb, but it's obviously not going to stay that way for long.

As the chase goes over the top of the first climb, many have asked about how riders get time gaps without race radio. As is the case in most races, there are whiteboard motorbikes out there constantly measuring the gap and feeding that information to riders.

142km remaining from 262km

The peloton is about 18:44 minutes behind after the second climb, which has again taken a toll on the peloton. Physical distance is about 3.8 kilometres between the front group and the back of the chasers, but that's obviously changing as this chase gains momentum.

There's a clear split in the peloton now and Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) isn't in it. Chasing down these last 18 minutes to the leaders will ensure this isn't a pure sprinter's race.

It's surprising that so much damage has taken place so quickly but the Belgians, Spaniards and Italians have decided enough is enough. No race radios and it's having an effect on the bunch and the racing tactics. Oscar, Pozatto both in this group. It could still come back together though.

Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) will almost certainly make a bid for victory - the only question is when. He needs to balance the help of riding with three others against the closing peloton and distance left. He is strong and will certainly have a solo crack sometime this afternoon.

Nicolas Roche is still in the lead group as is Andre Griepel, Simon Gerrans and Baden Cooke. Oss is driving the peloton up the start/finish straight.

Cadel Evans is too in the lead group but the Spanish and USA squads are driving the second group. It looks like their men have missed the move.

Big Thor Hushovd is an other rider to have missed the split in the peloton. The Swiss and USA will drive hard to bring them back to the front of the peloton but it will take a toll on the teams' riders.

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) has suffered an ill-timed mechanical and is back in the convoy behind the second part of the peloton.

Mario Aerts (Belgium) leads the first part of the peloton, which had brought the margin down to 18 minutes after the second lap.

There's only about 200 metres between the two pelotons now as the Swiss hit it hard on the flat. The first climb is fast approaching, however, and they need to catch them before it.

The leaders are now on the front straight - to give you some idea of the physical difference there, the gap between it and the back of the peloton has gone from about 3.5 kilometres to 5-5.5kilometres in the last lap.

Craig Lewis (United States of America) is out of the race. He looks fine - isn't even breathing heavily - so not sure what happened there.

The pelotons are back together as the riders hit the climb for a third time. The margin has come down more - it's about 16:36 minutes now.

The leaders are on their fourth lap while the peloton is about to hit the second climb on its third lap, and this is how we stand:

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)
2 Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco) @ 4:04 minutes
3 Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) @ 13:04 minutes
4 Peloton 16:36 minutes

Since half of New Zealand has e-mailed me today, I'll cover it. The Kiwis are in the peloton, as is everyone that hasn't pulled out or the six out front.

I've had you bros covered all week - I won't let you down today! If something happens, you'll know.

The flat section straight after the climb doesnt look that important but it is. Along with getting a feed the sprinters and weaker riders can use the flat section to move back up to the front of the bunch before the climbing starts again.

Matthew Brammeier (Ireland) is feeling the effort but he's tough and sticking in there. He was zig-zagging from side to side on the climb.

Grant has asked where Spain is. Mate, it's part of mainland Europe - right there near the French.

Oh, you mean in the race? They're still in the peloton, helping set the pace.

Well we've lost one sprinter in Manuel Antonio Leal Cardoso (Portugal). Cardoso won his first ProTour stage this year while at Tour Down Under - doesn't look like he'll get the chance for another Aussie win here today.

The peloton has started its third of 11 laps now and has taken more time out of the leaders. It's down to about 15:30 now, here's the situation.

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)
2 Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco) @ 4:04 minutes
3 Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) @ 13:04 minutes
4 Peloton 15:35 minutes
 

That big turn by the Swiss riders to pull back the peloton has hurt its lineup a lot. We've had a group drop out the back of the peloton including some Swiss and USA riders. That group is 1:30 minutes down on the peloton and includes: Danilo Wyss, Jason McCartney, Jaroslaw Marycz, Daren Lill, Martin Kohler, Mattis Medici and Abdelatil Saadoune.

We've already seen Mark Cavendish under pressure and dropped once or twice but he's back in the fold. What's more he still has Jeremey Hunt and David Millar with him. Tyler Farrar on the other hand has already lost three teammates.

I can't help but wonder if the local council went out and cleaned up this morning after yesterday's Australian Football League final. There were some colourful types about last night after the game, and a few probably woke up in the same spot we saw them this morning.

What type of sport has to have a second grand finale, anyway? There'll be no ties here today for us...I hope. There was one for third place in the U23 race - officials looked right down to the pixel and couldn't split it for the bronze medal.

Anders Lund (Denmark) has to stop for a not-so-quick rear wheel change.

127km remaining from 262km

The peloton has taken about a minute out of the leaders on the first six kilometres of this lap. That's good, they needed to pick up the pace as there wouldn't have been enough laps to catch them.

André Greipel (Germany) is lead the peloton on the descent as Kalle Kriit (Estonia) chases to get back.

Another 15 seconds from the lead fone. Australia has moved about four of its riders to fourth wheel but a Spanish rider is still driving the effort.

Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) is having a really tough time out there. Time might not be standing still, but on the climb he certainly looks like he is.

The home team are riding the perfect race, letting the Italians and Spaniads do the majority of the work. They Australians are moving closer to the front though so they could start to pile on the pressure in the next few laps. They've saved their bullets well, unlike the women's team did yesterday.

The peloton and leaders are now practically on opposing sides of the course as the gap comes down to 13:19 minutes. The peloton is on track to take back more than two minutes on this lap - it's a strong effort that could start to take a toll on riders.

Hunt moving Cavendish to the front of the bunch now on this flat section. The sprinter obviously feels good today.

110km remaining from 262km

Our little Morrocon man is still rockin', but his days are numbered. The peloton is about 500 metres behind as he crosses the start/finish line, with Oss still driving hard back in the bunch. Dang, he wasn't joking about playing a role in his first Worlds.

The peloton has crossed the start/finish line 13:40 minutes down on the leaders Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela).

Our rockin' Morrocan Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco) has been caught. It's likely he's going to go straight out the peloton's rear - he's looking as dusty as some of those AFL fans were this morning.

We've just ticked over the 100km remaining mark, folks. Everyone is on what the timers are calling lap four but if you add the first time around when they came onto the course this is in fact lap five of 11. So we're about halfway through the finishing circuit laps.

The last two laps have been slower than the previous ones. The bunch have slowed a bit now. Calm before the storm perhaps.

The bunch that contained the dropped Swiss and USA riders has been pulled from the race now.

Oss has done his work for the day and swings off the front. Two more Italians move to the front in his place. Bettini's plan is working well so far.

110km remaining from 262km

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) did manage to chase back on earlier and is riding near the front of the peloton now. He's up there with Simon Gerrans (Australia) and Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spain).

Another small split has occured in the peloton and the Italians have put the hammer down to try and at least put the hurt on for the other riders to chase back on.

It's clear that Simon Gerrans (Australia) is working for others today. He's been very close to the front and is there to probably mark moves more than launch a winning attack.

The gap is down to 12:16 minutes as the riders go over a sign that says 'Marry me Liggett?' and is signed 'Paul. S'.

We're really moving along now. Italy has pulled out its weapons by putting four riders on the front and the bunch as strung out as the pace rises.

Oh no bro! Julian Dean (New Zealand) has been dropped from the peloton. Stuart O'Grady (Australia) has been shed too.

The Italians are doing the damage now but are they working too early? The problem here is that the gap was too big so they've been forced to change their game plan slightly. Pippo might be isolated at the end.

Leaders Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) are on the climb for the sixth time. Their lead has dropped down to 10:40 minutes at this point.

There's been a car accident on course.

Slovenia and France's team cars have hit nose-to-tail and there's some fluid on the course, we're being told.

There's radiator fluid on the ground but that should dry up by the time the riders come around for another lap.

This isn’t a motorsport event, but one of the team cars has been black flagged. The Slovenian Skoda is looking a little worse-off after the crash and has been pulled off the course.

Thomas Peterson (United States of America), Valentin Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan) and Sergey Renev (Kazakhstan) have all pulled out of the race.
 

Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco) is still out there! He's come a long way, been dropped by the peloton, but he's still out there riding around about five minutes behind the peloton, and 15 behind the race leaders he entered this circuit with.

Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spain) and Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spain) are setting the pace in the peloton.

Wout Poels (Netherlands) launched a small attack on the peloton towards the top of the climb. He led the group through the 168.3 kilometre mark, 9:26 minutes behind the leaders.

The race is coming to life now but is the mix right with the riders at the front? will the Italians be happy with the men they've got up there? Nibali is there. Gilbert isnt.

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) is setting the peloton's pace. He's looking over his shoulder to see what damage he's able to do behind.

No radios mean mistakes could be made. Nibali can look over his shoulder all he wants but he wont be able to tell who is in the group straight away.

Lars Boom (Netherlands) is being marked by Stuart O'Grady (Australia) at the front of the peloton.

There's plenty of attacks in the peloton which is forcing up the pace. The group has split and rejoined on multiple occasions down this one road alone, showing the on-again, off-again nature of the surges.

A group of about 40 riders has surged ahead and the Italians do look happy with the mix of this group. That could be crucial but they need to work together wirth other teams.

Evans, Pozzato, Nibali are all in the group but Fabian Cancellara (Swizterland) and Oscar Freire Gomez (Spain) are missing.

Evans has O'Grady and Gerrans still with him in the group.

Australia and Italy are leading the charge in the chase group, while the Dutch have a good number of riders there too, but they're hanging back.

The first peloton has brought the margin down to 7:20 minutes, but the second part of the peloton is over one kilometre behind.

Matti Breschel (Denmark), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), André Greipel (Germany) and Tony Martin (Germany) are all in the 32 rider chase group. Spain seems to have missed it altogether though and is leading the chase behind in the peloton.

85km remaining from 262km

The peloton is 1:24 minutes behind the chase group of 32 riders.

Situation

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine), Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)
2 Chase of 32 @ 7:20 minutes
3 Peloton @ 8:44 minutes

That's a big dliema for spain. Their two big guns have missed the move but they've got a few guys in the lead group. They need to drop back now and help the chase.

Greipel wont get an armchair ride to the finish, that's for certain. He's been climbing well but there are so many strong riders here that we can expect another selection in the next few laps.

Matthew Brammeier (Ireland) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) have been dropped by the leaders on the second climb. The pressure is starting to hit the riders out front as the peloton brings it down to 6:26 minutes.

It's not over for the Americans either with season revelation Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America) one of the 32 up front.

We're currently on the seventh lap of 11, so there's still some way to go on the 15.9 kilometre circuit.

The group of Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) has about one minute on the peloton as it tries to bridge across.

69km remaining from 262km

Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine) is the sole leader on the road now as he starts his eighth lap.

Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) is alone in second place, 2:02 minutes behind the Ukrainian rider.

Five Italians and four belgians, they're in the driving seat but riders like Roche, Breschel can't be given too much rope. Hagen too.

Matthew Brammeier (Ireland) and Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) are still together four minutes behind the leader. The 32 rider chase is about one kilometre behind that pair.

The second people is chasing hard. It's just 30 seconds behind the main chase of 32 riders.

Here's how they stand:

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine),
2 Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) @ 2:02 minutes
3 Matthew Brammeier (Ireland), Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) @ 4 minutes
4 Chase of 32 @ 5:54 minutes
5 Chase of 50 @ 6:30

The chase of 32 riders includes Leif Hoste (Belgium), Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Tony Martin (Germany), Cadel Evans (Australia) , Stuart O'Grady (Australia), Simon Gerrans (Australia), Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spain), Wout Poels (Netherlands), Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Francesco Gavazzi (Italy), Filippo Pozzato (Italy), Ruben Plaza Molina (Spain), Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Yury Trofimov (Russian Federation), Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Yoann Offredo (France), Lars Boom (Netherlands), Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America), Steve Morabito (Switzerland), Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spain), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) and Pavel Brutt (Russian Federation).

You can blame the Dutch for the reduction in gap. They've got riders in the lead group but they're not doing enough. Germany need to put Martin to work too but they're saving him in case Andre needs him.

Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine) is really struggling on the climb. He's clearly hurting, which means we could see this race all back together shortly.

In just two kilometres the chase group has take 14 seconds out of the lead of Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine).

The gap between the group of 32 and Cancellara's group has grown back out to one minute on the flat section, as they both charge towards the climb.

Gerrans is riding a great race in support of Evans. It's clear that he's there to do the work, while Stu is sitting back a bit. Perhaps he's tired, or perhaps they're saving him for a sprint if it stays together.

The 30 riders are trying to distance the German sprinter on the descent and it's working. There's been no German winner of the Worlds since the 60s.

62km remaining from 262km

We're just 57 kilometres from the finish now and this is how the race looks as the race leader gets ready to start his ninth of 11 laps.

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine),
2 Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia) @ 3:41 minutes
4 Chase of 32 Leif Hoste (Belgium), Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Tony Martin (Germany), Cadel Evans (Australia) , Stuart O'Grady (Australia), Simon Gerrans (Australia), Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spain), Wout Poels (Netherlands), Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Francesco Gavazzi (Italy), Filippo Pozzato (Italy), Ruben Plaza Molina (Spain), Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Yury Trofimov (Russian Federation), Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Yoann Offredo (France), Lars Boom (Netherlands), Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America), Steve Morabito (Switzerland), Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spain), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands), Pavel Brutt (Russian Federation), Matteo Tosatto (Italy), Fabian Wegmann (Germany), André Greipel (Germany) and Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia). @ 4:24 minutes
5 Chase of 50 @ 5:18

Filippo Pozzato (Italy) has been called to help at the front of the chase now.

Simon Gerrans (Australia) is swapping turns with Filippo Pozzato (Italy). They still have to be careful as the gap to the riders behind is still under one minute. It's a constant threat.

Cruch time for the Italians now. They have Visconti, Pozatto and Nibbles left. They need to decide between them who is the real leader. Who will attack first?

Word on the street is that Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) and Matthew Goss (Australia) have withdrawn from the race. So even if the second peloton can get back to the first group, those pair are out.

53km remaining from 262km

Leif Hoste (Belgium) has taken over the work as the group travels up the start/finish straight. It still might not be enough though as the group behind is closing in.

Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) might slip back to the peloton as he's had to stop for a wheel change after the line.

Situation after lap nine:

1 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine),
2 Chase of 32 Leif Hoste (Belgium), Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Tony Martin (Germany), Cadel Evans (Australia) , Stuart O'Grady (Australia), Simon Gerrans (Australia), Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spain), Wout Poels (Netherlands), Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Francesco Gavazzi (Italy), Filippo Pozzato (Italy), Ruben Plaza Molina (Spain), Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Yury Trofimov (Russian Federation), Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Yoann Offredo (France), Lars Boom (Netherlands), Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America), Steve Morabito (Switzerland), Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spain), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands), Pavel Brutt (Russian Federation), Matteo Tosatto (Italy), Fabian Wegmann (Germany), André Greipel (Germany) and Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia). @ 2:25 minutes
5 Chase of 50 @ 3:30

Australia has started to do much of the work at the front of the chase. Sanchez's group is still 1:05 minutes behind it - not losing, but not catching at this point.

Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine) is just 1:27 minutes ahead of the chase now.

Gerrans is driving up the climb now and setting the pace. The harder the race, the more it suits Evans perfectly.

Gerrans has blown. he's dropped and his day is surely over. He's done a great job for Evans today.

Now Nibali goes! Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine) has been caught and the big guns are in the lead.

Vincenzo Nibali's (Italy) move caught Evans off guard, but the world champion is fighting hard to get back on.

The 32 has been reduced to about 12 riders including Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America).

We're left with just the real hard men now. It's almost like a Classic. They include:

Giovanni Visconti (Italy)
Filippo Pozzato (Italy)
Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)
Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands)
Wout Poels (Netherlands)
Fabian Wegmann (Germany)
Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)
Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America)
 

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) has attacked and taken a good margin!

Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) doesn't want to let him go and has given chase, marked closely by Giovanni Visconti (Italy). Evans needs to act now if he has a hope of defending his title.

Sorensen just couldnt follow, the Italians were never going to chase and now Nibbles has a gap. He's a perfect rabbit for Gilbert to chase, Pozatto holds the cards.

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) leads by 14 seconds over a group of five.

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) has been caught by Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia), Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands).

Cadel Evans (Australia) is chasing in a second group of seven that includes Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) and Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America).

Cadel Evans has attacked the chase group on this second last lap, but Gilbert has shut it down.

37km remaining from 262km

Lead: Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia), Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands).

Chase @ 22 seconds: Filippo Pozzato (Italy), Wout Poels (Netherlands), Fabian Wegmann (Germany), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America), Cadel Evans (Australia), Pavel Brutt (Russia)

Second chase group @ 49 seconds.
 

It's not too late for Gilbert and Evans but they need to work together if they're going to bridge over to the leading five.

The remainder of the original 32 riders has caught the second group, making it Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia), Giovanni Visconti (Italy) and Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) being hunted by 27 riders at 22 seconds.

Unfortunately for my ANZAC brothers I've not seen any Kiwis for over a lap.

The chase group had actually swollen before catching Evans' group. So it's the five leaders - Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia), Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) - 22 seconds ahead of 51 riders.

The chase has hit the climb and it can see our five leaders, they're not far ahead. Allan Davis is in the group that's caught Evans, so he has a helping hand. We're just trying to see if Fabian Cancellara is in there too.

Thor Hushovd (Norway) is in the chase as Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia) falls out of the lead group.

30km remaining from 262km

This looks like it's going to come back together, with the gap down to 12 seconds and the descent to come.

Even if they're caught Italy is in a strong position, as Giovanni Visconti (Italy) is one of the strongest sprinters in the group.

The lead group is down to Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Chris Sörensen (Denmark), Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) but they're looking over their shoulders. They know they're not going to survive on this descent, where people have been able to catch back on all day.

They've been caught on the second climb and Björn Leukemans (Belgium) has attacked.
 

Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) and Pozzato have followed the Belgian.

Evans has moved across to the group now.

A Dutch rider and Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Filippo Pozzato (Italy), Cadel Evans (Australia), Björn Leukemans (Belgium) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation) are the leaders now, with about half a kilometre on the rest of the 56 riders.

Niki Terpstra (Netherlands) is the Dutch rider in the mix.

The six are marking one another but they'll need to do something if they're going to stay away.

The Dutchie has edged ahead while the five behind are having a war of words.

They screwed it for themselves and have been caught by the bunch again.

The Italians are leading a group of about 35 riders up the start/finish straight where the riders will get the bell.

21km remaining from 262km

They've been given the bell: there's just 15.9 kilometres left in this world championship.

There's exactly 40 riders in the front group including some big sprint names like Oscar for Spain, Thor for Norway, Visconti for Italy. But one may who has been dropped from the group and race on the finish straight is Fabian Cancellara. The big Swiss rider was in the group but is calling it a day - knowing it's not going to break up enough for him to be a chance.

Frank Schleck (Luxembourg) is in the group too.

The last was the fastest lap of the race 22 minutes and the final one should be quicker again.

Marzio Bruseghin (Italy) is pushing hard at the front of the group. He's wasting himself for his teammates. He'll leave everything he has before the first climb in the hope it can break up the race enough to get Pozzato away solo, or at least remove some competition for the final sprint.

Just 11 kilometres remaining as they hit the bottom of the first climb. The current world champion is sitting back mid-pack - it's a dangerous place to be.

Marzio Bruseghin (Italy) has blown and swung off, leaving the Belgians to hit the 20% gradient section of the climb hard.

Evans has moved to Gilbert's wheel just in time as the Belgian attacks. But can he hold it?

Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) has made his bid now and is riding away. He's got a margin over everyone.

Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation) has given chase, but Evans has found a second wind and is taking a turn.

9km remaining from 262km

Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation) has crossed the line ahead of Evans, Schleck about 14 seconds down on Gilbert.

Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) has extended his lead a little on the descent.

A chase of seven includes Evans, Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation), Schleck, Chris Sörensen (Denmark) and Björn Leukemans (Belgium).

6km remaining from 262km

Gilbert's lost about two seconds on the second climb but he's still about 18 ahead.

5km remaining from 262km

Cadel Evans is trying to bring Gilbert back with Schleck on his wheel. The German and second Belgian is with him.

Paul Martens (Germany) and Cadel Evans (Australia) are doing a two man team time trial. They've reduced Gilbert's margin to 10 seconds.

Three riders have caught Evans, but that's not all. The peloton isn't out of this race yet, it's charging!

Gilbert has blown up as the chase is caught by the peloton.

Pavel Brutt (Russian Federation) has attacked by himself now and is the solo leader by 100 metres.

Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) has joined the Russian but the peloton is close. This has sprint written all over it.

2km remaining from 262km

Niki Terpstra (Netherlands) has attacked inside two kilometres and joined the two leaders.

The trio's lead is no more than 25 metres and the last turn is about 100 away. Sprint!

They're on the home straight and Niki Terpstra (Netherlands) is trying a 600 metre sprint! It won't work.

The real sprint is about to start.

Alby is coming down the outside!

It's Thor Hushovd (Norway) down the inside!

King Thor is champion Thor! Thor Hushovd (Norway) has won from Breschel and Davis!

Pozzato is fourth place.

So our top ten is:

1 Thor Hushovd (Norway)
2 Matti Breschel (Denmark)
3 Allan Davis (Australia)
4 Filippo Pozzato (Italy)
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
6 Oscar Freire (Spain)
7 Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia)
8 Assan Bazayev (Kazakhstan)
9 Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)
10 Romain Feillu (France)

Thor Hushovd on his first world championship victory:
It’s hard to understand that I’ve won the worlds. It’s a dream. I’m speechless.

Absolutely, for a while of course only Spain was riding with one or two guys and I thought it was over at that moment. Then Russia joined in and for us it was perfect.

There’s still one goal and that’s Paris-Roubaix. But for now I will enjoy thing and try to enjoy every day of this winter. I had this chance and maybe it will never happen again.

That's it from Geelong, Australia folks. Thor Hushovd will start 2011 with Garmin-Cervelo and a world champion jersey on his shoulders.

In the meantime thanks for joining me for this week's live coverages. I hope you've had some fun along the way. Happy riding!

Results

1 Thor Hushovd (Norway)
2 Matti Breschel (Denmark)
3 Allan Davis (Australia)
4 Filippo Pozzato (Italy)
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
6 Oscar Freire (Spain)
7 Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia)
8 Assan Bazayev (Kazakhstan)
9 Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)
10 Romain Feillu (France)

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