The 24-year-old said he started his campaign having already put pen to paper for a 2018 contract with Swiss WorldTour team Katusha-Alpecin.
“The deal was basically done long before world champs,” said the former RoadCover star.
He went on to place 49th in the individual time-trial before grabbing the world’s attention in the 276.5km road race by joining and outlasting the first breakaway of the day.
Success in Ethiopia at the start of this month took its toll and Smit said he was far from his top form when the action kicked off in Bergen.
“I was a bit sick after Tour of Ethiopia so my preparation was two weeks behind. Combined with that, my weight loss hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped,” said the African continental champion.
“So, basically, I thought I’d go to worlds and whatever happens, happens.”
Racing in his first world championships as an elite, Katusha-Alpecin’s newest signing said it was always his plan to get himself in a breakaway.
“I knew I didn’t want to gamble on trying to do something after 240km because I haven’t been racing that distance a lot this year. I knew I’d rather get some publicity by going in the break and hopefully stay out there until the end.”
He was one of 10 riders who broke away from the peloton within the first kilometre and, determined to get maximum coverage, held on until the fifth last passage of Salmon Hill, where he launched a solo attack before being caught.
Lasting until the finish was never an option, acknowledged Smit.
“Going in the break is my strong point and I managed to last about 200km. It really was a great ride.”
Reflecting on his results, Smit was positive about the outcome and said it gave him a good indication of how much he could still improve.
“Coming to an event like this told me where, as a rider, I stand.
“Finishing five minutes behind in the time-trial, I know I need to make up that time going forward and it is quite important for you as a rider to know how much you should be improving.”
Sunday’s road race was won by Peter Sagan, who went down in history as the first rider to win the world title three times in a row.
Smit said he had been fortunate to race alongside the likes of Sagan and Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin, but, in the end, it was the official announcement of his new contract that made him happiest.
This year has undoubtedly been one to remember for Smit as he notched up victories at home, in Africa and Europe.
With no less than 16 victories to his name this season, he said he hoped his success served to inspire aspiring South African riders.
“This is what I’ve been working towards for the last eight years, it’s like a dream come true and I’m very grateful.
“It was an honour to ride in the front of such a big event representing South Africa, putting us on the map and giving younger riders hope.”