Germany's Tony Martin on Wednesday successfully defended his world time-trial title, beating US rider Taylor Phinney by five seconds over 45.7km in Valkenburg, the Netherlands.
The race between Martin and Phinney was the highlight of the competition and saw the German clock an average speed of 46.8 kmph. After his narrow victory, he lay flat out on the ground to recover.
The 27-year-old caught Alberto Contador around the 30km mark after starting two minutes behind the Spaniard, who recently won the Tour of Spain. He eventually finished in ninth spot.
Martin admitted that he had never experienced such a tight race.
"I never expected this result of Taylor (Phinney)," said Martin, whose Tour de France this year ended prematurely when he broke his hand in a fall.
"It is the toughest final that I have experienced in my career. I was dead when I crossed the line. I knew that it was very close, but I never panicked, I just tried to keep my rhythm.
"I love time-trialling but who knows one day I may set my sights on winning the Tour itself. It will depend on the lay of the course."
Phinney, 22, had mixed feelings over taking second spot.
"I had a very good season up until the Olympics," said Phinney, who suffered double frustration in London finishing fourth in both the time-trial and the road race.
"After that I prepared for the world championships. If someone had said beforehand I would win the silver medal I would have been happy.
"But losing by five seconds is very little. It is for that reason that I was disappointed after I crossed the finish line.
"However, I can take heart from having improved a lot this season as before I was only known as a prologue specialist.
"Great riders like Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome were absent today but I was really close to a superb champion in Martin. That opens up all sorts of perspectives for the future."
Third place went to Belarus' Vasil Kiryienka, 1min 44sec back, while Tejay Van Garderen, of the United States, was fourth.
Kiryienka was ecstatic at picking up his world medal, rounding off a terrific season which has seen him sign a three-year contract with leading team Sky.
"It was a dream I had in my head," said the 31-year-old.
"For the past three weeks I have dedicated myself to the time-trial here.
"I worked solely for that. This bronze medal is a surprise for me but I am very happy."
Italy's Marco Pinotti had been on course for a medal but fell on a bend over a slippery part of the course and abandoned.