Britain's Nicole Cooke added the world road race title to her Olympic gold at the world cycling championships on Saturday, becoming one of the great women cyclists of modern times.
Olympic champion Nicole Cooke of Britain added the women's world road race title to her collection after a thrilling battle on Saturday.
Cooke completed the 138.8-km course in 3 hours 42.11 minutes, just ahead of Marianne Vos of the Netherlands. Germany's Judith Arndt took bronze.
The race around eight laps of Varese, a town just north of Milan, was filled with cat-and-mouse games between riders which finished inside a converted horse-racing track.
The three medallists were part of a five-strong breakaway group with both Cooke and Vos trying to pull away in the closing stages before being reined back in.
Vos, second in the worlds last year and winner in 2006, made a sudden dash metres from the finish but seemed to ease up too early and Cooke passed her before the line.
The 25-year-old Briton had already shown her battling qualities in the road race by confidently riding to victory at the Beijing Olympics last month.
"When I started the race I was very relaxed because I'd already achieved my goal for the year which was to win the Olympics," Cooke told a news conference.
"At the finale I tried my best, it was instinct. I'm happy to win a world title with such a great finale."
A glum-looking Vos tried to look on the bright side.
"I felt good in the last lap. I couldn't do any better, I couldn't go faster," she said.
Mariya Slokotovich of Kazakhstan suffered a nasty fall early on while American time trial Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong was up with the leaders midway through before slipping back.
Last year's winner Marta Bastianelli was barred from competing after the Italian tested positive for the banned substance flenfluramine in July, which ruled her out of Beijing.
She said she had accidentally consumed it in a diet product.
The championships end with Sunday's men's race when local hope Paolo Bettini bids for his third world title in a row.
Luxembourg's Frank Schleck is due to start the race despite Italian police raiding his hotel after media reports said he was implicated in a doping probe.
The rider has said he is innocent and the International Cycling Union (UCI) has said it has no evidence against him.
Date created : 2008-09-27