Amy Pieters gave the home country its fifth European Championships gold medal, parlaying a long three-up breakaway into victory on a windswept race in Alkmaar on Saturday.
The 28-year-old topped Italy's Elena Cecchini and Lisa Klein (Germany) in a tense finale, repaying the faith of her Dutch squad who looked set to reel in the attack with two laps to go, but then eased off the gas in the last 10km and let the gap blow out.
"This is really special, because it's close to my home. It's a good win," Pieters said.
Pre-race favourite Lorena Wiebes (Netherlands) led home the chasing peloton ahead of Great Britain's Alice Barnes.
The Dutch team came out hitting hard, flying off the line and attacking repeatedly in the opening laps. "It was a really hard race, early in the race with the whole national team we started in the first lap, and we kept going," Pieters said. "We had a hard head wind and also with the houses a lot of side wind, it was a really hard race."
How it unfolded
It was a sunny but very blustery day for the elite women's European Championships road race, with ten laps for a total of 115km on a pan-flat but technical 11.5km circuit. The Dutch team led the peloton off the line as if starting a cyclo-cross race, going flat out into the first lap and then peppering the field with attacks until a breakaway of three went clear.
Amy Pieters represented the home country, while Elena Cecchini (Italy) flew the flag of the defending champions along with Lisa Klein of Germany in the move.
The trio built up a lead of over two minutes, working smoothly together in the intense winds as the peloton splintered behind.
Still with nearly two minutes heading into two laps to go, the Dutch team finally came to the fore in the peloton to bring down the gap, seeminly in a repeat of last year's tactics.
The pace-setting of the Dutch and Belgian teams brought the gap down to a more manageable 44 seconds with one lap to go as Italy closed ranks behind, with five riders surrounding defending champion Marta Bastianelli.
The pace eased with 9km to go as the Germans came forward with the Dutch and sat up, letting the gap swell to 1:12 - by the time the attacks came from Great Britain with 6.5km to go, it was too late to reel the trio in. The home team put their faith in Pieters, who with 4km to go tightened her shoes to prepare for the finale.
With the medals all up the road, the demoralized peloton bunched up as no other team was willing to put their noses into the howling wind. Up ahead, the trio began to play cat and mouse with 1.5km to go, with Cecchini refusing to take a single pull. Pieters several times opened a gap to Klein's wheel to force the Italian forward, but she held firm.
Klein led into the final 500m, sitting on the front over the canal and into the final straightaway, looking back waiting for the sprint to come. Pieters opened the sprint finally with 200m to go and Cecchini could not get on terms.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Amy Pieters (Netherlands)||2:56:03|
|2||Elena Cecchini (Italy)||0:00:01|
|3||Lisa Klein (Germany)|
|4||Lorena Wiebes (Netherlands)||0:00:26|
|5||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)|
|6||Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)|
|7||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:00:27|
|8||Susanne Andersen (Norway)|
|9||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)|
|10||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)|
|11||Lotte Kopecky (Belgium)|
|12||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)|
|13||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)|
|14||Roxane Fournier (France)||0:00:28|
|15||Charlotte Becker (Germany)|
|16||Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Italy)||0:00:30|
|17||Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)|
|18||Aude Biannic (France)|
|19||Marta Bastianelli (Italy)|
|20||Nicola Juniper (Great Britain)||0:00:31|
|21||Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)||0:00:32|
|22||Soraya Paladin (Italy)||0:00:33|
|23||Anna Henderson (Great Britain)||0:00:35|
|24||Romy Kasper (Germany)||0:00:38|
|25||Marta Cavalli (Italy)|
|26||Kelly Druyts (Belgium)||0:00:39|
|27||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)||0:00:40|
|28||Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)|
|29||Sofie De Vuyst (Belgium)||0:01:16|
|30||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)||0:01:17|
|31||Mieke Kröger (Germany)||0:01:21|
|32||Trixi Worrack (Germany)||0:01:52|
|33||Demi Vollering (Netherlands)||0:05:43|
|34||Kaat Hannes (Belgium)|
|35||Kathrin Schweinberger (Austria)||0:06:17|
|36||Dorota Przezak (Poland)||0:06:18|
|37||Alice Sharpe (Ireland)|
|38||Mia Radotić (Croatia)|
|39||Andrea Waldis (Switzerland)|
|40||Maryna Ivaniuk (Ukraine)|
|41||Jarmila Machačová (Czech Republic)|
|42||Kelly Van den Steen (Belgium)|
|43||Liisa Ehrberg (Estonia)|
|44||Magdalena Sadlecka (Poland)||0:06:19|
|45||Monika Brzezna (Poland)|
|46||Arianna Fidanza (Italy)|
|47||Anastasiia Chursina (Russian Federation)||0:06:20|
|48||Severine Eraud (France)|
|49||Weronika Humelt (Poland)|
|50||Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)|
|51||Eugénie Duval (France)|
|52||Louise Hansen (Denmark)|
|53||Valerie Demey (Belgium)||0:06:21|
|54||Olena Sharha (Ukraine)|
|55||Tatsiana Sharakova (Belarus)|
|56||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)|
|57||Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain)|
|58||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)|
|59||Gloria Rodriguez Sanchez (Spain)|
|60||Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain)|
|61||Lucy Garner (Great Britain)|
|62||Kathrin Hammes (Germany)||0:06:22|
|63||Alba Teruel Ribes (Spain)|
|64||Sarah Rijkes (Austria)||0:06:23|
|65||Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)||0:06:25|
|66||Pascale Jeuland (France)|
|67||Chantal Hoffmann (Luxembourg)|
|68||Christina Schweinberger (Austria)||0:06:41|
|69||Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland)||0:06:51|
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