Italy's Tatiana Guderzo made up for several near misses at world and Olympic level by winning the women's road race crown at the world cycling championships on Saturday.
Dutchwoman Marianne Vos finished second to take the silver while another Italian, Noemi Cantele, took the bronze after they came over the finish line of the 124.2km race 19secs in arrears.
Guderzo, 25, finished second behind Judith Arndt at the worlds back in 2004 and also won bronze in the road race at the Beijing Olympics last year. As well as making amends for those results, her first world road race title at elite level will give the Italian men a huge boost ahead of their road race, the blue riband event which closes the championships on Sunday.
Guderzo and Cantele had the advantage of both being at the forefront on the crucial final laps of the 13.8km circuit which, being raced nine times, featured two climbs, the Acquafresca after 4km and the Novazzano 2.6km from the finish.
At the bell signaling the ninth and final lap Denmark's Linda Villumsen, a bronze medal winner in the time trial earlier in the week, led a group of around 13 riders over the line with a four-second advantage.
Early on the final ascent of the Acquafresca, the Italians then tactically outfoxed their rivals. Guderzo pulled ahead early on the climb, forcing Vos and Kristin Armstrong to pursue but with Cantele keeping close on their wheels.
Once Vos and Armstrong had used precious energy on the climb and caught Guderzo, the Italian put in a more powerful acceleration that allowed her to pull away and leave her rivals in her wake. Only five seconds behind her Vos, Armstrong and Cantele were chasing although Cantele, logically, was sitting at the back doing nothing to help close the gap.
It was effectively a two-man chase to bring Guderzo back, but the Italian kept hammering solo towards the finish line.
With barely three kilometres remaining after the summit of Novazzano, Guderzo held a 21sec lead on the chase group. As she came over the line in triumph, Vos easily beat Cantele in the race for second to claim her third successive runner-up place in the championships having won her maiden title as a 19-year-old in 2006.
Armstrong came in fourth just behind Cantele, with a 11-strong group finishing over a minute behind.
Defending champion Nicole Cooke of Britain pulled out just after the halfway stage.
© AFP 2009
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