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Gruelling road races throw up worthy winners

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The best Road Cycling images of Baku 2015

Road Cycling | Best of Baku 2015
Alena Amialiusik of Belarus competes in the Women's Road cycling Individual Time Trial. Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 18: Stef Clement of Netherlands on his way to silver in the Men's Individual Time Trial during day six of the Baku 2015 European Games at Bilgah Beach on June 18, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Riders race past the Flame Towers during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/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 21: Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Spain (L) crosses the line to won gold ahead of Andriy Grivko of Ukraine (R) during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Riders race the Old Town during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Riders race past the Flame Towers during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: A general view of the city and Flame Towers as riders compete during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Harry Engels/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 21: Riders race past the Flame Towers during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Riders race the Old Town on the first lap during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Riders race through the city during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Riders race the Old Town during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: The peloton pass through Old Town during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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Road Cycling
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: The peloton passes through the Old Town during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images for BEGOC)
© Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Riders race past the Flame Towers during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 18: (L-R) Silver medalist Stef Clement of Netherlands, gold medalist Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus and bronze medalist Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Spain pose with the medals won in the Men's Road cycling Individual Time trial during day six of the Baku 2015 European Games at Bilgah Beach on June 18, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/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)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: (L-R) Silver medalist Andriy Grivko of Ukraine, gold medalist Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Spain and bronze medalist Petr Vakoc of the Czech Republic stand on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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A review of the Cycling road race at the Baku 2015 European Games

The much-fancied Dutch and Italian riders came away from the second European Games weekend with little to show for their exhausting efforts in the Baku heat. Instead, glory in the men's race fell to Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez Gil and in the women's race it was Belarusian Alena Amialiusik who took the tape, both in thrilling finishes. 

The Netherlands had the biggest team and the more decorated riders for the women's race on Saturday, but after a slow start, 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 newly crowned 26-year-old European Games champion 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 couldn't place a rider higher than third, with Anna Van Der Breggen taking bronze behind Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland.

On the Sunday, a final lap breakaway denied the sprinters the mass finish they craved in the men's race. In the end it was Sanchez Gil who crossed the line first in a time of five hours, 27 minutes and 25 seconds, just ahead of his Astana team-mate Andriy Grivko of Ukraine and the Czech Republic's Petr Vakoc in silver and bronze respectively.

Jesus Herrada Lopez was the unlucky loser from the group of four which had made a bold move at the bottom of the final climb. In the end he held off the chasing peleton by only four seconds.

"I'm really happy to win gold in the European Games" said a jubilant champion, who also won bronze in the time trial on 18 June. "I told Jesus this medal was for our team-mates, but especially for him. He helped me until the finish."

The men's road race comprised six short laps of 12.8km, including a steep climb of 125 metres to the city's iconic Flame Towers, followed by ten laps of 13.9km, which took in the same climb as well as a technical section over cobblestones through Baku's old city.


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    Gruelling road races throw up worthy winners

    A review of the Cycling road race at the Baku 2015 European Games
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    Spain's Sanchez Gil edges frenetic road race

    Final lap breakaway secures gold for Spain, silver for Ukraine and bronze for Czech Republic
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    After Saturday's thrills, Sunday's race could be a classic

    A strong field and unpredictable course fuels anticipation of men's race
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    Amialiusik grabs gold in dramatic road race finale

    After well over three hours of racing, less than a second separated the medallists
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    Vasil Kiryienka powers to gold in men's Cycling time trial

    Dutchman Clement takes silver and Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez Gil claims bronze
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    Van Dijk takes women's Road Cycling gold

    Dutch take gold and bronze in blustery Bilgah Beach
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    Van Dijk and Kiryjenka among time trial favourites

    Dutchwoman to be challenged by Solovey and Duyck
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