When was the last time that a Frenchman, Spaniard or Italian did not feature on the podium of the UCI World Race Championships?
Yesterday, in Geelong Australia, was the first time in 21 years that the nations that stage the three Grand Tours failed to feature in the medals as Australia, Denmark and Norway took home the medals.
Thor Hushovd of Norway, amongst the pre-race favourites and winner of the green points jersey in the Tour de France this summer, outsprinted the Dane Matti Breschel to grab the gold medal and the rainbow jersey. Alan Davis, the Australian, took the bronze to ensure that the home nation topped the overall medals table for the Championships (just ahead of GBR).
However, it was the failure of the big three that stands out. Pozzatto of Italy was prominent in the latter stages, but very little was seen or heard of the riders from France or Spain.
In the absence of the three “Grand Tour” cycling nations it was up to Belgium, Netherlands, Russia and Australia to demonstrate their strength. Gilbert looked strong and was well supported. Cadel Evans defended his rainbow jersey with grit and Nikki Terpstra of the Netherlands was powerful in the latter stages as he put the hammer down and strung out the few remaining riders who had survived the 263 km course.
However, on the final home straight it was the big Norwegian who powered away in the final 50 metres. He was able to raise his arms in victory, turn round to watch the Dane punching his handlebars in frustration and then ceremonially kiss his bike.
Hushovd may not be able to claim to be the fastest sprinter in the world anymore but his palmares are becoming more illustrative as each season progresses. He now has his eyes firmly set on Roubaix 2011.