For what looked set to be a week of humdrum racing, this year’s road world championships were a welcome surprise to Anthony Tan. For all bar one event, that is.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

I don't want to bang on and on about whether the inclusion of Mark Renshaw may or may not have been the difference between and silver and gold.

But I think what would be safe to assume is that, given the size of the finishing group – 82 riders strong – Renshaw, a man with eight years' experience under his belt and holding a leadership position only second to Mark Cavendish at HTC-High Road, would have been in that front group.

And irrespective of the result, I still feel selectors Kevin Tabotta and Matt White's rationale for keeping Renshaw at bay – in essence, that he couldn't handle the distance – does not hold water.

If the Tour de France is the ultimate test of endurance, possessing the strength to lead out Cavendish to victory – twice – on the final stage, and after some 3,500 kilometres, no less, does that not qualify as a mark of one's ability to go the distance?

Yes, Renshaw has done comparatively fewer one-day races compared to say, Baden Cooke or Simon Gerrans or Stuart O'Grady or Mathew Hayman.

Though he probably has done around the same number as the man who became world champion Sunday and the rest of the Australians in the team chosen to go to Copenhagen.

* * *

Still, let's not take anything away from Cavendish, who, 46 years after Tom Simpson, the last British rider to bear the rainbow bands across his chest, added yet another accolade to his mile-long palmarès.

The Brits rode to an audacious race plan, unflinching in their approach to provide what appeared to be a 266-kilometre-long lead-out. It worked a treat – until the final kilometre.

However Cavendish, in his characteristically tenacious way, established a path that, 150 metres from the line, created an opening down the right-hand side of the barriers. The quarter-second's hesitation by Goss was enough for the Milan-San Remo champ to immediately lose two bike-lengths, as he watched Cav' dive through and… well, the rest is history.

Goss, someone I didn't think stood a chance of even making the podium, deserves almost equal praise. At 24 years old – one year, five months Cav's junior – his time will come, and being slightly more versatile than the Manxman, he should have quite a few chances to make amends.

As Gossy himself said, "I have another 10 or 12 world championships in me. This course suited me quite well, but I can also get around a slightly harder course and sprint from a smaller group, so I am going to have more chances."

* * *

Did you also take note that the elite men's podium was made up of two HTC-High Road riders (Cavendish, Goss) and one High Road alumnus (André Greipel)?

Normally, I don't get that phased when one team leaves and another comes. It's simply part of the game of sport and sponsorship. But High Road is a little different.

That such a successful outfit – in fact, if you're talking about wins accumulated, the most successful the past four seasons – cannot find a replacement title sponsor, I still grapple with.

Their riders are clean, charismatic and colourful, both in nationality and personality; their owner, Bob Stapleton, is an entrepreneur de luxe, if not a little inaccessible at times when you want to speak to him; and, I'll say it again, they kept on winning and winning and winning.

Lamented Rolf Aldag, HTC-High Road sport director, to VeloNews earlier this month: "When you ask the question, who has found a sponsor lately? GreenEDGE, there's no sponsor. BMC is no sponsor, Leopard was no sponsor. There is really nobody who is bringing in [new] sponsorship [at the World Tour level]."

Thankfully, for the 25 HTC-High Road men, all bar two – the exceptions being young Americans Craig Lewis and Caleb Fairly – have found employment elsewhere, on similarly-ranked teams.

For the dozen women on their books, it hasn't been so straightforward. On 4 August, when Stapleton told reporters the game to find a title sponsor was up, he said he was still trying to find a way to keep his women's team going.

That, I can tell you, is no longer the case.

* * *

Word on the street is that out of the remnants of the HTC-High Road women's team, a new squad will form. Bike and apparel sponsors have apparently been sorted. And it is expected to include the precocious Chloe Hosking – the best-placed Australian in the elite women's race at the Worlds, who finished sixth last Saturday to Georgia Bronzini – and Ina Teutenberg, who came third behind perennial bridesmaid, Marianne Vos.

Hosking told me last week: "I know I've been linked to GreenEDGE a few times but I won't be riding for the new Australian trade team. For me personally, for where I want my career to go, and for what I want to achieve, I'm in the best possible position to do that with the team that I will be racing for next year."

GreenEDGE general manager, Shayne Bannan, informed me he expects to make an announcement regarding their women's formation in a few weeks' time; expect to get that drip-fed, in the same way they've done with the men's team.

* * *

Last weekend, after watching – and almost falling asleep – through the women's race in Copenhagen, I can't help but think the way they race also has something to do with the lack of publicity.

If it wasn't for Canadian Clara Hughes, who awoke many of us from our slumbers with three laps to go and attacked an otherwise dormant field, they may as well have raced one lap; apart from Hughes and Britain's Emma Pooley, the rest chose to do nothing.

Yes, the course lent itself to sprinters, and a number of the stronger nations who had sprinters wanted to keep things together for a bunch gallop. But that doesn't mean you give in! As the Under-23 and junior men's races demonstrated, an aggressive approach can lead to an unlikely winner, and in the case of the latter, a successful breakaway.

Granted, it was an exciting finale – but when was the last time you saw a boring bunch sprint?

I still hold fond memories of what the women's scene was like a decade or so ago, when I began my journalism career. Anna Wilson and Oenone Wood were dominating the European and US professional scene; their trademark dynamism and sass earning them numerous World Cup victories and a legion of fans who revered them so.

After her daring escape that won her the Athens Olympic Games road race, Sara Carrigan looked set to continue that trend, but following the retirement of Wilson and Wood, she didn't quite match the lofty heights the Australian public yearned for. Aside from Rochelle Gilmore, we haven't really had a reason to cheer since.

Abroad, we have riders like Nicole Cooke, who, at her best, is thrilling to watch, having won the Beijing Olympic road race and road world championship in the same year. She too has been missing from the limelight.

So my clarion call to the women is to be sassy, be brave, be impertinent, be pugnacious – because if you don't, in three to five years' time, you might find yourselves in the same position you're in now.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan