Not since Alan Jackson's third in Melbourne had British road racing been in the Olympic medals and Sciandri was the man who put the match to the short fuse of a highly charged race which for the first time included the mainstream professionals from Europe.
The gold fell to Switzerland's Pascal Richard who left his sprint until the last 50 metres to edge out Rolf Sorensen of Denmark, with Sciandri third two seconds behind.
As the 222-kilometre race around the uptown suburb of Buckhead reached its climax Sciandri, not for the first time, responded to an attack by American Lance Armstrong.
The Texan's desperate last bid to win a cycling gold for the United States failed as Sciandri, Sorensen and Richard raced clear.
The three had been team-mates in the past but as Richard said after receiving his medal: "This is the Olympics and it is every man for himself. They may have been my team-mates and we knew each other's strengths but today it was down to the individual."
The race around 17 laps of the well-heeled suburb past neat lawns and flowerbeds of mansions owned by millionaires was always lively.
It was not, however, until the last eight laps that the tempo rose to produce a group of 12 leaders from whom the decisive move came.
Sciandri who has suffered all season from injuries and illness said: "It was a very confused race and I did not know what was happening. I was lucky to be in that move."
"Maybe I went a little too early, but if I had not done that, I wouldn't have had a chance of winning the gold.
He was, however, the driving force that finally broke up a very influential group and he rode the race of his life to vindicate any criticism of his selection.Reuse content