It was supposed to be about Mark Cavendish, the road race world champion, the Team GB spearhead gunning for Britain's first gold medal.
But when the Brits failed to get their top rider within striking distance, Alexandr Vinokourov was the man punching the air at the conclusion of today's road race.
Vinokourov, who served a two-year ban for doping offences at the 2007 Tour de France, held off Colombia's Rigoberto Uran in a two-man charge for the line, while Norway's Alexander Kristoff was at the point of a bunch of riders trailing just eight seconds behind to claim bronze.
Vinokourov, who has maintained his innocence in the wake of the drug ban and has twice aborted planned retirement, had prevailed at the end of a gruelling five hours 45mins and 57secs raced over 250km.
Six-time Olympian Stuart O'Grady, who won madison gold in 2004, was Australia's highest placed rider having kept himself in reach of a medal until the final push for the line to finish sixth, on the same time as Kristoff.
O'Grady was the instigator of an early attack, which split the field, leaving Cavendish and his Brit-mates pulling along the peloton but they could not close the gap.
Britain had fallen in love with road cycling following Bradley Wiggins' recent Tour de France victory, and the affair had been expected to continue on the streets of London.
But Vinokourov, who broke a leg in last year's Tour de France, spoiled the party with a victory he described as a dream come true.
"After so many crashes, returning to cycling was difficult but I was still hoping for a good result," he said. "I still have a metal plate in my femur so it wasn't easy. I haven't won any stages in the recent tour but today the dream came true."
Australian Simon Gerrans acknowledged the difficulty of racing with just five team members and without radio communication.
"It just makes it difficult, firstly to race with small teams and then to have no communication and not a lot of information about what's going on in the race, you're really racing blindfolded," he said.
Gerrans said he was disappointed for O'Grady, who went within a whisker of the podium.
"When we saw the gap (between the peloton and the leading group, which included O'Grady) around a minute and it wasn't coming down from the circuit we knew from that point on it was going to be pretty difficult to come back together for a bunch sprint," he said.
"We had Stuey out there but we had no idea what was going on, we were just hoping for the best for him."