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)||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Lorena Wiebes (Netherlands)||0:00:26|
|5||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:00:27|
|8||Susanne Andersen (Norway)||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Lotte Kopecky (Belgium)||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Roxane Fournier (France)||0:00:28|
|15||Charlotte Becker (Germany)||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Italy)||0:00:30|
|17||Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Aude Biannic (France)||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Marta Bastianelli (Italy)||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|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)||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Kelly Druyts (Belgium)||0:00:39|
|27||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)||0:00:40|
|28||Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|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)||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Kathrin Schweinberger (Austria)||0:06:17|
|36||Dorota Przezak (Poland)||0:06:18|
|37||Alice Sharpe (Ireland)||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Mia Radotić (Croatia)||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Andrea Waldis (Switzerland)||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Maryna Ivaniuk (Ukraine)||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Jarmila Machačová (Czech Republic)||Row 40 - Cell 2|
|42||Kelly Van den Steen (Belgium)||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Liisa Ehrberg (Estonia)||Row 42 - Cell 2|
|44||Magdalena Sadlecka (Poland)||0:06:19|
|45||Monika Brzezna (Poland)||Row 44 - Cell 2|
|46||Arianna Fidanza (Italy)||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Anastasiia Chursina (Russian Federation)||0:06:20|
|48||Severine Eraud (France)||Row 47 - Cell 2|
|49||Weronika Humelt (Poland)||Row 48 - Cell 2|
|50||Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Eugénie Duval (France)||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|52||Louise Hansen (Denmark)||Row 51 - Cell 2|
|53||Valerie Demey (Belgium)||0:06:21|
|54||Olena Sharha (Ukraine)||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|55||Tatsiana Sharakova (Belarus)||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain)||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|58||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|59||Gloria Rodriguez Sanchez (Spain)||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|60||Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain)||Row 59 - Cell 2|
|61||Lucy Garner (Great Britain)||Row 60 - Cell 2|
|62||Kathrin Hammes (Germany)||0:06:22|
|63||Alba Teruel Ribes (Spain)||Row 62 - Cell 2|
|64||Sarah Rijkes (Austria)||0:06:23|
|65||Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)||0:06:25|
|66||Pascale Jeuland (France)||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|67||Chantal Hoffmann (Luxembourg)||Row 66 - Cell 2|
|68||Christina Schweinberger (Austria)||0:06:41|
|69||Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland)||0:06:51|
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