Chantal Blaak of the Netherlands is the new women’s road world champion after a late attack in Bergen saw her solo her way to victory at the end of the 152.8-kilometre race.
While a Dutch winner wasn’t a surprise given the strength in depth of its team, expectations had been that it would be Anna van der Breggen, the Olympic road race champion, or Annamiek van Vleuten, who won the time trial earlier this week, who would be challenging for victory in Norway.
Blaak, aged 27, was one of three riders who got away on the penultimate lap, the others being France’s Audrey Cordon and Great Britain’s Hannah Barnes.
On the final climb of Salmon Hill, the trio were joined by van der Breggen, van Vleuten, Australia’s Katrin Garfoor and Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma.
Coming over the top of the climb, van Vleuten attacked but was swiftly brought back, then Blaak made what proved to be the race-winning move.
With a compatriot up front, van Vleuten and van der Breggen didn’t need to chase, and while Barnes and Niewiadoma tried to bring her back, with 2 kilometres to go it was clear she had a race-winning advantage which she stretched out on the way to the line.
Her six pursuers were swept up by the main bunch ahead of the finish, and while Garfoot took silver, 28 seconds behind the Dutchwoman, it was last year’s champion, Amalie Dideriksen, who won bronze.
Barnes finished 14th, with Great Britain team mate Dani King, who had animated the race with an earlier attack, 20th. Lizzie Deignan, road world champion in 2015 and who underwent an operation to remove her appendix last month, was 41st.
After her victory, Blaak, who had crashed earlier in the race, said: "I can’t believe it. Everything happened in the race and actually it took pretty long to get back up, I was in a lot of pain on that moment I thought my race was over.
"I thought I’d try to come back and see what I could do but it was not really the plan that I should win the race. I just wanted to make it as good as possible for the team.
“Then I came in the good break, that was a good thing because I could get over the climb in front. After that, I just followed my heart and I stayed away," she added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.