It was a course for the tough sprinter, for a man made of iron who could get over the climbs and launch a brutal uphill sprint: enter Thor Hushovd (Norway). The final sprint in Geelong, Australia was perfectly suited to the Norwegian rider and with a clear run down the left-hand barrier, Hushovd secured a year in the rainbow jersey of UCI Road World Champion.
Matti Breschel (Denmark) took a comfortable second place while Allan Davis (Australia) won a tight battle against Italy’s Filippo Pozzato to claim the bronze medal.
“It’s hard to understand that I’ve won the Worlds. It’s a dream. I’m speechless,” said Hushovd. “There’s still one goal and that’s Paris-Roubaix. But for now I will enjoy everything and try to enjoy every day of this winter. I had this chance and maybe it will never happen again.”
Hushovd admitted that he didn’t think the race would come back together when the peloton fractured and a group of 31 riders moved ahead. Hushovd missed the move but had no motivation to chase it himself given that teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen had made the cut.
“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.”
The solo specialists tried to stamp their mark on the race over the final two laps. Italy threw its riders off the front in moves that were brought back by riders such as defending champion Cadel Evans (Australia).
Finally pre-race favourite Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) showed his hand on the final lap, surging through the lead group of 51 riders on the first climb to pull out an immediate advantage of 14 seconds. Gilbert extended the lead on the descent, reaching a maximum of 22 second, before the chasers started to reduce it on the second climb.
Gilbert looked doomed as he started to take on food in the final five kilometres, signalling that he was low on energy. The excitement on the roadside grew as the home fans watched Evans pull a group of five towards Gilbert, but that soon turned into horror as the dropped peloton suddenly appeared without warning to consume all.
Bids for glory were launched by Pavel Brutt (Russia) and Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia), but they were caught on the final corner of the race. As the 40-odd riders made their way up the 700-metre long finishing straight, Davis looked strong but Hushovd came down the barrier without traffic to take the title.
"I'm over the moon...I got on Matti's wheel and in last 500m I saw Thor come and decided to stay on Matti," said Davis.
The early break
The race came close having a completely different ending, after a break of five gained over 23 minutes on the 82 kilometre opening segment from Melbourne to the finishing circuit in Geelong. The break came within 50 seconds of completing a lap before the peloton entered the circuit, which could have caused serious complications for the commissaires.
"The [slow start] changed nothing – slower or faster," commented Hushovd. "But I was really scared on [what would happen] if the [breakaway] lapped us. I didn't know what the rules were if a breakaway lapped the field."
The five riders - Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia), Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela), Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco), Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine) and Matthew Brammeier (Ireland) - attacked before the race had cleared Melbourne, and their lead began to mount rapidly.
As the race went by the You Yangs mountains, with 30 kilometres still to go to Geelong, the gap was approaching 23 minutes – it would reach a maximum of 23:30 - and the U.S. team finally went to the front to limit any further damage.
Onto the finishing circuit
Once the race entered the 15.9 kilometre circuit for 11 laps, that gap began to fall, with Belgium moving to the front for their man Philippe Gilbert. The Moroccan Elammoury dropped off the lead group after one lap, but the other four continued to work together steadily.
Initially, the gap came down slowly, with none of the teams willing to commit too many resources to the chase. With four laps completed, the gap was still 16 minutes, and it was starting to look like this break had a chance. However, a lap later the Spanish and Italian teams decided to get serious, and they quickly knocked four minutes off the lead.
The higher pace was having an impact on the peloton, with riders falling off the back on the climbs. With 100 kilometres of racing left the gap was down to ten minutes, and 31 riders had split off the front of the peloton, including defending champion Cadel Evans, Stuart O'Grady, Simon Gerrans (all Australia), Gilbert, Pozzato, Vincenzo Nibali, Matteo Tosatto and Giovanni Visconti (all Italy). Many members of the peloton came back after the climbs, but the pattern was set: each lap more riders were shed, and less managed to get back on each time.
"I think that big attack with five laps to go surprised us all," Hushovd explained after the race. "I was hesitating on whether to go or not but I saw [Oscar] Freire and a few guys sitting back so I didn't go. I had Edvald Boasson Hagen in front for Norway so that was good enough, and then Spain and Russia controlled it."
By lap seven, Kvachuk had dropped the rest of the break and was continuing to push on alone, but the writing was on the wall, and his gap was down to five minutes by the end of the lap. Two laps later, he was less than two minutes in front, and the Italians were really starting to apply pressure, with the Ukrainian finally caught late in the lap after 220 kilometres out in front.
Nibali launched a serious attack halfway through lap nine, which decisively decimated the field. He started lap ten with a 22 second gap on a chase group containing Evans, Gilbert and Pozzato, and the main bunch at 49 seconds, being driven by Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland). But it was too early, and the bunch came back together to start the last lap.
The final showdown
Gilbert finally made his much-anticipated move on the Montpellier climb, with Evans reacting instantly. The Belgian had 14 second at the top of the first climb, and was 22 seconds clear by the top of the second climb.
With six and a half kilometres to go, the chase was being led by Evans, Paul Martens (Germany), Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia), Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) and Frank Schleck (Luxembourg). But the pursuit was not well organized, with most of the group looking to Evans to do the work on home roads.
With 3.4 kilometres to go a group of 20 caught the Evans group and then pulled Gilbert back with less than two kilometres remaining. Vladimir Gusev (Russia) and Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) immediately counterattacked, and were joined by Niki Terpstra (Netherlands), but the field was having none of it, and as they swept around the final corner for the 500 metre uphill run to the finish there were 25 riders still in contention.
Hushovd moved into the lead on the left hand side of the road with 150 metres to go, and easily held on to take the title.
"I think I did a good race, I didn't panic and of course I paid with this in the end. Of course, the last lap was really hard when Belgium attacked with Philippe Gilbert, but I think the wind was too strong out there, so it was too hard to stay in front alone. In the sprint I just focused on myself and to not make any mistakes. 'Just don't mess it up' I said to myself so many times in the last kilometre and, yeah, I think I did the perfect race out there today."
The championships ended on a high note for Australia, with Davis taking the third medal for the host nation, giving them a bronze to go with gold (Matthews in the U23 road race) and silver (Durbridge in the U23 time trial).
"After 260 kilometres, sprinting after that distance is a lot different,” Davis said. “The majority of the races throughout the year it is pretty normal to cramp, especially in an uphill finish like that. I was in a high cadence, and I should have stayed there but I went down a cog and cramped straight away. But there is no taking away from Thor today. Not only in the sprint, but Thor closed the gap in the last lap by himself, and to do what he did in the sprint, there is no taking that away from the world champion."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Thor Hushovd (Norway)||6:21:49|
|2||Matti Breschel (Denmark)|
|3||Allan Davis (Australia)|
|4||Filippo Pozzato (Italy)|
|5||Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)|
|6||Oscar Freire Gomez (Spain)|
|7||Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation)|
|8||Assan Bazayev (Kazakhstan)|
|9||Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)|
|10||Romain Feillu (France)|
|11||Grega Bole (Slovenia)|
|12||Dmitriy Fofonov (Kazakhstan)|
|13||Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands)|
|14||Fabian Wegmann (Germany)|
|15||Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Portugal)|
|16||Frank Schleck (Luxembourg)|
|17||Cadel Evans (Australia)|
|18||Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)|
|19||Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)||0:00:07|
|20||Björn Leukemans (Belgium)|
|21||Vladimir Gusev (Russian Federation)||0:00:13|
|22||Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia)|
|23||Chris Sörensen (Denmark)|
|24||Anders Lund (Denmark)||0:00:15|
|25||Paul Martens (Germany)|
|26||Yoann Offredo (France)||0:02:07|
|27||Jonas Ljungblad (Sweden)||0:02:09|
|28||Matija Kvasina (Croatia)||0:02:11|
|29||Christian Knees (Germany)|
|30||Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan)|
|31||Simon Spilak (Slovenia)||0:02:13|
|32||Cyril Gautier (France)|
|33||Kanstantin Siutsou (Belarus)|
|34||Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Colombia)|
|35||Juan José Haedo (Argentina)|
|36||Giovanni Visconti (Italy)|
|37||Marzio Bruseghin (Italy)||0:05:11|
|38||Luca Paolini (Italy)|
|39||Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spain)|
|40||Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)||0:07:10|
|41||Lars Boom (Netherlands)||0:07:22|
|42||Wout Poels (Netherlands)|
|43||André Greipel (Germany)|
|44||Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia)|
|45||Stuart O`Grady (Australia)|
|46||Radoslav Rogina (Croatia)|
|47||Karsten Kroon (Netherlands)|
|48||Jure Kocjan (Slovenia)|
|49||Pavel Brutt (Russian Federation)|
|50||Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)|
|51||Yauheni Hutarovich (Belarus)||0:13:53|
|52||Denys Kostyuk (Ukraine)|
|53||Martin Velits (Slovakia)|
|54||Petr Bencik (Czech Republic)|
|55||Martin Elmiger (Switzerland)|
|56||Hernani Broco (Portugal)|
|57||Egor Silin (Russian Federation)|
|58||Marcel Sieberg (Germany)|
|59||Steve Morabito (Switzerland)|
|60||Bartosz Huzarski (Poland)|
|61||Eduard Vorganov (Russian Federation)|
|62||Koen De Kort (Netherlands)|
|63||Sylvain Chavanel (France)|
|64||Michal Golas (Poland)|
|65||Bernhard Eisel (Austria)|
|66||Peter Wrolich (Austria)|
|67||Oleksandr Sheydyk (Ukraine)|
|68||David Mc Cann (Ireland)|
|69||Alexander Kristoff (Norway)|
|70||Sébastien Hinault (France)|
|71||Bert Grabsch (Germany)|
|72||Yukihiro Doi (Japan)|
|73||Edward King (United States Of America)|
|74||Peter Velits (Slovakia)|
|75||Gustav Larsson (Sweden)|
|76||Lars Ytting Bak (Denmark)|
|77||Julian Dean (New Zealand)|
|78||Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland)|
|79||Christian Vandevelde (United States Of America)|
|80||Danny Pate (United States Of America)|
|81||Tyler Farrar (United States Of America)|
|82||Danilo Hondo (Germany)|
|83||Anthony Geslin (France)|
|84||Tanel Kangert (Estonia)|
|85||Svein Tuft (Canada)|
|86||William Bonnet (France)|
|87||Leopold Konig (Czech Republic)|
|88||Alexsandr Dyachenko (Kazakhstan)|
|89||Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania)|
|90||José Mendes Pimenta Costa (Portugal)|
|91||Steven Kruijswijk (Netherlands)|
|92||Sebastian Langeveld (Netherlands)|
|93||Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukraine)|
|94||Mathew Hayman (Australia)|
|95||Wesley Sulzberger (Australia)|
|96||Michael Rogers (Australia)|
|97||Nicolas Roche (Ireland)|
|98||Laurent Didier (Luxembourg)||0:21:51|
|99||Zolt Der (Serbia)||0:22:50|
|DNF||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)|
|DNF||Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spain)|
|DNF||Yury Trofimov (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Michael Albasini (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Tejay Van Garderen (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium)|
|DNF||Francesco Gavazzi (Italy)|
|DNF||Tony Martin (Germany)|
|DNF||Mario Aerts (Belgium)|
|DNF||Matteo Tosatto (Italy)|
|DNF||Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spain)|
|DNF||Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spain)|
|DNF||Ruben Plaza Molina (Spain)|
|DNF||Leif Hoste (Belgium)|
|DNF||Jan Bakelants (Belgium)|
|DNF||Simon Gerrans (Australia)|
|DNF||Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Argentina)|
|DNF||Maciej Bodnar (Poland)|
|DNF||Vladimir Karpets (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Carlos Oyarzun Guinez (Chile)|
|DNF||Diego Alejandro Tamayo Martinez (Colombia)|
|DNF||David Millar (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Marcin Sapa (Poland)|
|DNF||Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)|
|DNF||Matthew Brammeier (Ireland)|
|DNF||Grégory Rast (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Samuel José Rodrigues Caldeira (Portugal)|
|DNF||Juan Manuel Garate (Spain)|
|DNF||Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Matthew Harley Goss (Australia)|
|DNF||Hayden Roulston (New Zealand)|
|DNF||Kristijan Koren (Slovenia)|
|DNF||Andrea Tonti (Italy)|
|DNF||Christian Meier (Canada)|
|DNF||Daryl Impey (South Africa)|
|DNF||Peter Sagan (Slovakia)|
|DNF||Jos Van Emden (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Dominic Klemme (Germany)|
|DNF||Artem Ovechkin (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Michael Morkov (Denmark)|
|DNF||Murilo Antonio Fischer (Brazil)|
|DNF||Hrvoje Miholjevic (Croatia)|
|DNF||Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spain)|
|DNF||Kevin De Weert (Belgium)|
|DNF||Baden Cooke (Australia)|
|DNF||Mark Cavendish (Great Britain)|
|DNF||David Zabriskie (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Jeremy Hunt (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spain)|
|DNF||Valentin Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Sergey Renev (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Alexander Porsev (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Ben Gastauer (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Thomas Peterson (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Kalle Kriit (Estonia)|
|DNF||Adil Jelloul (Morocco)|
|DNF||Mohammed Said Elammoury (Morocco)|
|DNF||Daniel Oss (Italy)|
|DNF||Frederik Willems (Belgium)|
|DNF||Greg Henderson (New Zealand)|
|DNF||Abdelatil Saadoune (Morocco)|
|DNF||Matias Medici (Argentina)|
|DNF||Esad Hasanovic (Serbia)|
|DNF||Danilo Wyss (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Jason Mccartney (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Martin Kohler (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Jaroslaw Marycz (Poland)|
|DNF||Darren Lill (South Africa)|
|DNF||Yury Metlushenko (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Manuel Antonio Leal Cardoso (Portugal)|
|DNF||Jay Robert Thomson (South Africa)|
|DNF||Borut Bozic (Slovenia)|
|DNF||Dominique Rollin (Canada)|
|DNF||Alex Rasmussen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Craig Lewis (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Adnane Aarbia (Morocco)|
|DNF||Mouhcine Lahsaini (Morocco)|
|DNF||Tarik Chaoufi (Morocco)|
|DNF||Carlos José Ochoa (Venezuela)|
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