- cycling - Italy - Switzerland
AFP - Italy's Tatiana Guderzo made up for near misses at world and Olympic level by winning the women's road race crown here at the world cycling championships on Saturday.
Dutchwoman Marianna 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.
And that gave Vos and a few other contenders whose teammates had been dropped a tactical mountain to climb.
"In the last lap there were four of us near the front and two Italians," said Vos, who has now finished runner-up in the three years since winning the title as a 19-year-old in 2006. "I knew it would be difficult, and that they would attack one after the other."
At the bell signalling 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.
But early on the final ascent of the Acquafresca, the Italians struck.
Guderzo pulled ahead early on the climb, forcing Vos and American 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.
She never looked back, and with Cantele sitting back keeping an eye on Vos and Armstrong for counter-attacks the pair were in a no-win situation.
With barely three kilometres remaining after the summit of Novazzano, Guderzo held a 21sec lead on the chase group. She came over the finish to give Italy their first gold in the event since Marta Bastianelli won in 2007.
"It's a dream come true," said Guderzo, who picks up her first victory since winning the national title in June 2008.
"Our plan was to get to the final lap together and whoever was the weakest would work for the stronger rider.
"But the entire team were great. They helped control the race from the first laps."
Vos easily beat Cantele in the race for second, with time trial champion Armstrong finishing fourth in what was her final race as a professional.
Defending champion Nicole Cooke of Britain pulled out just after the halfway stage.
The men race the same circuit Sunday, 19 times, for a total distance of 262.2km.
"It's a hard circuit," admitted Cantele.
"There's few opportunities between the two climbs to get your breath back or feed yourself."