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Cycling: Blaak takes women's gold as Netherlands ride a perfect race

Cycling: Blaak takes women's gold as Netherlands ride a perfect race
September 23, 2017

BERGEN, Norway (Reuters) - Chantal Blaak recovered from a crash and claimed a solo win in the women’s road race as the Netherlands put on a perfect performance on a sunny Saturday at the cycling world championships.

The Dutch champion broke away from a group of seven leading riders in the last of eight 19.1-km laps in Bergen to beat Australian Katrin Garfoot and defending champion Amalie Dideriksen of Denmark by 28 seconds.

Blaak had crashed earlier in the race but was able to stay in the leading pack.

 “When I was down on the floor I thought my race was over. I hoped to come back and work for the team but never expected this,” she said.

“I felt this would be my only chance to become world champion. I looked behind me and couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.”

The Netherlands fielded the strongest team at the start with four riders -- Annemiek van Vleuten, Anna van der Breggen, Marianne Vos and Ellen van Dijk -- in the top four of the world rankings.

Van der Breggen, Van Vleuten and Blaak were in the group of seven that took shape on the final lap and, with the numbers on their side, the Dutch were almost unbeatable.

Blaak attacked eight kilometres from the finish and her two compatriots did not move, leaving the effort of the chase to the others.

Blaak was assured of victory in the final kilometre and held her head in apparent disbelief as she crossed the line.

The peloton came back together behind her and Garfoot still had enough energy to outsprint Dideriksen for second place.

The men’s road race will be held on Sunday.