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Amialiusik grabs gold in dramatic road race finale

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Road Cycling

Saturday 20 June
Riders pass the Flame Towers during the women's road race at Baku 2015. Paul Gilham/Getty Images
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Jacqueline Hahn of Austria (44) and Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz of Spain (51) make a climb through the Old Town during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Riders pass a Mosque on the way to The Flame Towers during the Women's Road Race during day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Riders make a climb through the Old Town during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Ellen van Dijk of Netherlands collects her bike from the team truck prior to the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Riders pass through the Old Town during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands (5) leads a climb through the Old Town during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Riders make a climb through the Old Town during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Riders pass through the Old Town during the Men's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: (L-R) Tatsiana Sharakova of Belarus, Polona Batagelj of Slovenia and Chantal Blaak of the Netherlands make a climb through the Old Town during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Anastasiia Iakovenko of Russia makes a climb through the Old Town during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Riders pass The Flame Towers during the Women's Road Race during day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Alena Amialiusik of Belarus crosses the line to win gold ahead of Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland and Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands during the Women's Road Race on day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 20: Alena Amialiusik (C) of Belarus winner of gold alongside silver medallist Katarzyna Niewiadoma (L) of Poland and bronze medallist Anna van der Breggen (R) of Netherlands in the Women's Road Race during day eight of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 20, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
After well over three hours of racing, less than a second separated the medallists

The Netherlands had the biggest team and the more decorated riders, but it was Belarus who won the women's road race as the stronger sprinting of Alena Amialiusik carried her to gold on Saturday.

After a slow start to the race and following a series of attacks through the later stages, it was Amialiusik who had the freshest legs of a final breakaway of three to cross the line in a time of three hours, 20 minutes, 36 seconds.

"I had no secret weapon," said the 26-year-old afterwards. "I felt that I was the best. The main thing was just to keep calm and believe in myself."

The six-strong Dutch team did most of the heavy lifting over a demanding 120.7km race, but could place a rider no higher than third, with Anna van der Breggen taking bronze behind Amialiusik and Poland's Katarzyna Niewiadoma.

"I know that I'm not a sprinter," said Niewiadoma. "I was trying to stay calm and wait for the first attack. Then I followed and I gave it my all."

Van der Breggen blamed the Dutch failure to challenge for gold on a breakdown in understanding with team-mate Ellen van Dijk, who had initially fought her way back to the leading group on the final lap.

"I thought that the pace would drop at the moment Ellen came back and that would be my moment to attack, and then we both jumped," said Van der Breggen. "That simply is a mistake. It's a decision you make in a split-second and there's no time to discuss."

The women's road race comprised four short laps of 12.8km with a steep climb of 125 metres to the city's iconic Flame Towers, followed by five laps of 13.9km, including the same climb and a technical section over cobblestones through Baku's old city. 


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