Norwegian cycling star Thor Hushovd could hardly believe it himself, when he pedaled past all his competitors to win the cycling world championship in Australia on Sunday. He’s been winning stages of the Tour de France for years, but his gold medal over the weekend was a dream come true.
The first thing Hushovd said after crossing the finish line first was that “I can’t believe this is possible. It’s hard to understand that I’ve won the Worlds. It’s a dream. I’m speechless.”
The 32-year-old Hushovd, who hails from Grimstad on Norway’s southern coast, won a youth world championship in 1998 and often has worn the green and yellow jerseys at the Tour de France, “but this is the World Championships,” he said. “This is the best.”
Commentators claimed Hushovd, who recently signed with the Garmin team, cycled a “perfect tactical” race to win the coveted road race crown, beating Matti Breschel of Denmark and Allan Davis of Australia after pedaling nearly 263 kilometers around Melbourne. Hushovd’s arch rival Mark Cavendish of the UK had been a favorite once again, but neither he nor Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland performed well on Sunday.
Hushovd is the first Norwegian to win the cycling world championship. The website cyclingnews.com quickly dubbed him “King Thor,” and claimed that the Australian course was made for “the tough sprinter, for a man made of iron who could get over the climbs and launch a brutal uphill sprint.”
Since Hushovd’s first name stems from the norse god of thunder, the organizers of the UCI Road World Championships, Melbourne 2010 Cycling, brightly reported that “The God of Thunder strikes Down Under.” Known as “the ox” in Norway, for his strength, Hushovd rode the course 257.2-kilometer course in six hours, 21 minutes and 49 seconds, with Breschel coming in second and Davis third.
Hushovd celebrated his victory at a French restaurant in the Melbourne suburb of Geelong, with champagne, saying he planned to enjoy “every second” of the evening’s party.
The reality of his win had set in. “I’m going to be proud of this for the rest of my life,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).