Marianne Vos won gold and Australia's Rachel Neylan claimed silver in the elite women's road race at the UCI World Road Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands.
It’s been an amazing year. Really incredible. It started great with the world championship cyclocross but then I broke my collarbone. The plan was to get in shape at the Giro d’Italia. Well, that worked: I won. Then the gold at the Olympics, the World Cup overall and now this.
Vos (NED), The London 2012 Olympic Games champion, went into the race a heavy favourite and played her cards perfectly to take the victory in style.
She told reporters after the race that with her team-mates keeping the break in check at the front till the penultimate lap, she was always confident in her ability to bridge and get the win.
"We had such a strong team here," said Vos. "I asked the girls to keep the gap at 35 seconds, you can bridge that on the Cauberg. Anna (Van der Breggen) was in front so that was excellent.
"I geared up before the steepest part of the Cauberg and went flat-out. It was pretty hard, especially the last 1.5 kilometres with head-wind. But is sure helps if you’ve been here a hundred thousand times."
Finishing second in an impressive debut performance was Australia's Neylan while Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy soloed into third place at the end of the 128.8km circuit.
Neylan, who was in the break that very nearly stayed away was given the all-clear to ride for herself with two laps of the tough Valkenburg course to ride. She said she wasn't surprised to see Vos win in the end, but was stoked with the result after an up and down year.
"It’s been a rough season," said the Australian. "I was quite surprised and honored to even be selected. So this medal is a shock. It’s my first worlds ever you know."
The race started slowly despite some early jitters in the peloton, magnified by a minor crash involving Robyn de Groot of South Africa.
Confusion reigned a short while later when a massive crash opened up the peloton, taking down a number of key riders and stranding others.
Netherlands suffered early losses in the incident with Ellen van Dijk stranded as the front of the peloton disappeared from sight but that did little to halt Vos.
Up front key players like Vos, Longo Borghini, Neylan, Evelyn Stevens (USA), Emma Pooley (GBR) and Judith Arndt (GER) managed to keep their chances alive.
After a number of attempts to organise the right combination, a break was formed which included Neylan, Amber Neben (USA), Rossella Ratto (ITA), Charlotte Becker (GER) and Anna Van Der Breggen (NED).
The quintet managed to craft a 40 second lead before the race opened up in a big way with Vos the protagonist.
With two laps to go, the eventual race winner attacked the peloton on the Cauberg and bridged to the break which was now only 10 seconds ahead. Following quickly was Longo Borghini.
Behind Vos and Borghini the peloton was stung by the attacks, as Pooley bravely led the chase.
Vos's impact on the break was immediate, along with team mate Van Der Breggen, she helped extend the lead of the seven rider group to almost three minutes with a lap to go.
The final climb up the Cauberg was again decisive with Australia's Neylan making the first attack, but it was Vos who launched a big move with two kilometres left to race.
Vos had a kilometre to savour a long awaited world championship and soloed to victory in front of a home crowd.
Women's elite road race: 128.8km, Valkenburg
1 Marianne Vos (NED) 3hr 14min 29sec
2 Rachel Neylan (AUS) 0:00:10
3 Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) 0:00:18
4 Amber Neben (USA) 0:00:33
5 Anna Van Der Breggen (NED) 0:00:55
6 Rossella Ratto (ITA) 0:03:40
7 Linda Villumsen (NZL) 0:04:37
8 Judith Arndt (GER)
9 Emma Johansson (SWE)
10 Paulina Brzezna-Bentkowska (POL)