David Millar rolled back the years to put in a blistering time trial as he tried to make it a British double in the men's and women's time trial in Geelong today, but defending world champion Fabian Cancellara proved stronger over the 45.8 kilometre course to take the rainbow jersey for a record fourth time by a stunning margin of 1 minute 2 seconds.
On a day when the cycling world has been rocked by the revelation that three times Tour de France champion Alberto Contador had tested positive for clenbuterol during this year's edition of the race, it was ironic that it was Millar, the 2003 World Time Trial champion who was subsequently stripped of his title after being banned for doping, who set the race alight.
The Garmin-Transitions rider was flying from the very start, clocking a time 20 seconds faster than previous quickest rider, the Australian Michael Rogers, at the first intermediate time check and doubling that advantage by the next split as he sought to emulate Emma Pooley's success yesterday.
However, the critical time was always likely to be that posted by Fabian Cancellara, looking, as Rogers was, to win the rainbow jersey in the event for a record fourth time. The Swiss rider was behind the Scot at the first timing station, but by the time the defending champion crossed the finish line for the first time, he was 11 seconds ahead.
In the final lap, Cancellara extended his advantage, although he came close to disaster, wobbling as his knee brushed the barriers on a corner as he approached the day's final climb. While Millar was safely riding his way into the silver medal position, he had no response to the powerful riding of the Swiss rider who was the last man out on the road, rolling down the ramp eight mintes behind the 33-year-old Scot.
Millar's time of 59:11:94 set the benchmark for the rest of the field, but by the time he crossed the line, it was clear that only a mechanical problem was going to stop Cancellara from making it four wins out of five, missing the event in 2008 after he had taken gold at the Beijing Olympics.
Germany's Tony Martin, seen as one of the biggest potential challengers to Cancellara ahead of today's race, saw his hopes of taking he rainbow jersey shattered as a result of a front wheel puncture early on when he was lying third on the road.
Although the German recovered to finish very strongly, the time he lost putting him 10 seconds down on Millar by the end of the race, but he managed to just hold off the challenge of Australia's Richie Porte to take bronze.
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Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.