Former Tour de l'Avenir winner Tobias Foss (Norway) thundered to a surprise world title in the individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships.
The 25-year-old, a two-time national champion, barrelled around the 34.2km course, holding an average speed of 51.24km/h to stop the clock at just over 40 minutes.
Stefan Küng (Switzerland), who looked in supreme form, missed out on the rainbow jersey by a margin of two seconds, while Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) charged home for third place.
On a rolling course with over 50 bends, Filippo Ganna (Italy) lacked the power to retain his title. The Italian, who many predicted would win the event, finished in seventh, over 55 seconds down on Foss.
How it happened
On a sunny afternoon in Wollongong, two laps of a 17.1km circuit awaited the riders, offering them a heavy helping of twists and turns as they punched around the city.
To the delight of the home crowds, Luke Plapp followed the example set by his fellow Australian Grace Brown in the women's race by laying down a strong early benchmark. Unlike Brown, though, the 21-year-old was soon dethroned. Bruno Armirail (France) took the race lead momentarily, then Yves Lampaert (Belgium), before Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) became the first rider to average a speed of over 50km/h.
It would take until the final wave of riders for the medal places to come back under threat. Foss powered intently down the start ramp, hot in pursuit of Magnus Sheffield (USA), who recorded a new best time at the intermediate check taken after 7.2km.
The times then got faster and faster. On his 24th birthday, Ethan Hayter (GB) appeared to be in fine form on the course, so too did Küng, who chased down the best time set by his compatriot.
At the first time check, Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) and Evenepoel failed to better Küng, before all eyes turned to Ganna. The reigning champion rose over the brow of a sharp rise in the road, and to the surprise of many, clocked in two seconds down on the Swiss heavyweight.
Disaster then struck for two of Ganna’s Ineos Grenadiers teammates. At the halfway mark, Hayter dropped his chain and struggled to pedal it back into place. A roadside bike change followed, but not before precious seconds were lost.
Up ahead, Sheffield crashed into the barriers as he hurtled through his second lap. The 20-year-old American had been one of the fastest riders on the day, but ended up coming in almost a minute down on race leader Bissegger. Foss then took a mammoth 47 seconds out of Bissegger’s time, charging over the line to end the Swiss rider’s stint in the hot seat.
Still out on the road, Küng was putting in one of the performances of his career. So strong was the former European champion that neither Pogačar, Evenepoel or Ganna could match his pace. With just 10km remaining, the Italian trailed by almost 40 seconds.
When Küng came towards the line, it seemed certain that the world title would be his. The clock, however, continued to tick, turning from green to red as the 28-year-old pushed desperately through the final few turns of the cranks. As had happened in last month's European Championships, Küng gave everything for the win, but would be forced to settle for a silver medal.
Rapidly, it became clear that Foss's time would not be beaten. Evenepoel crossed the line in third place, unable to replicate the heroics of his recent Vuelta a España victory.
As for Ganna, seventh was the best he could manage on the day, finishing outside of a podium place for the first time in his career in the elite time trial at the World Championships.
With his victory, Foss joins Ellen van Dijk in boasting the title of world time trial champion.
World Championships 2022 - Men's Elite Individual Time Trial (34.2km)
1. Tobias Foss (Nor), in 40-02
2. Stefan Küng (Sui), at 2s
3. Remco Evenepoel (Bel), at 9s
4. Ethan Hayter (GBr), at 40s
5. Stefan Bissegger (Sui), at 47s
6. Tadej Pogačar (Slo), at 48s
7. Filippo Ganna (Ita), at 56s
8. Nelson Oliviera (Por), at 59s
9. Yves Lampaert (Bel), at 1-09
10. Bruno Armirail (Fra), at 1-10
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