A world record was set yesterday. Ten stages of a cycling race in a row have been won by riders from ten different countries. This record was set when Francesco Gavazzi of Italy crossed the line to win Stage 18 of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana.
The previous record of nine stages won by nine different nationalities in a row had in fact been achieved on three different occasions. The 2009 Vuelta, 2007 Tour and perhaps surprisingly, it happened as far back as 1989, again in the Tour de France.
It's even more surprsing that this record has been set in the Vuelta which has traditionally been a major stomping ground for the Spaniards just as the Giro has for the Italians. Whereas allcomers tend to target the Tour de France.
But this year the record was broken. And with major nations like Australia and the Netherlands not yet present in this streak of ten stage wins, the record could be extended further today.
If nothing else, this only goes to highlight the increasing diversification of nationalites in a sport no longer utterly dominated by western mainland Europe.
And if these stats on stage winners wasn't enough to convince you of the increasingly global presence in the peloton, here's a lovely graph showing the nationalities which have been present in the Tour de France since the beginning of time (click to enlarge):